Gun-free fantasy zones

After the Aurora theater shooting, it was of course inevitable that the jackals at the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy vendor would be trying to make a political meal from the victims’ corpses before they had even had time to cool to room temperature. The usual round of inane honking about “common-sense gun control” ensued just as if this psycho (like most others) hadn’t cheerfully violated several laws well before he pulled the trigger.

But enough about the usual idiots; let’s talk about “Gun-free zones”. We’re told the movie theater had a sign up announcing its “gun-free” policy. Yeah, and how well did that work out for ya?

Try as I might, I am unable to comprehend the thinking of people who put “gun-free zone” signs in theaters, or on homes, or anywhere. How do they not get that criminals and madmen will read this as “Get your tasty defenseless victims, right here?”

At least “gun-free” signs on homes generally only jeopardize people stupid enough to put them up. “Gun-free” signs and policies in public spaces are another matter; whatever gibbering moron at Cinemark mandated this one painted bull’s-eyes on a theater-full of innocents.

Two fantasies caused that massacre. The obvious one was James Holmes’s delusional identification with the Joker. The less obvious one was the pious belief that wishing firearms out of sight will keep bad people from doing bad things. Holmes is an obvious psychotic who’s still trapped in the first fantasy; to prevent needless deaths, the rest of us must get free of the second.

For myself, from now on I plan to willfully violate every “gun-free zone” policy I run across. If enough sane people do likewise, perhaps the next massacre can be prevented.

677 thoughts on “Gun-free fantasy zones

  1. You’re right. Here in the UK every shooting like this is used to point to how much more civilised we are thanks to our strict gun control laws. Of course, it does seem that we don’t get as many of these mass shootings per capita. But I suspect that is just the ready availability of guns combined with gun free zones that is a particularly bad recipe. The UK is stuck in a nearby local minima: we still have plenty of criminals with guns and other violent crimes and defenseless victims.

  2. Hi ESR, what do you suggest now to try to limit the damage that such words can do in the public opinion? A donation to NRA or some other similar association (which one)?

  3. What are you going to carry around, an AR-15? Or maybe a more subtle SGM? Do you consider hollow-point bullets a better option to shoot obvious psychotics at the movie theaters?

  4. If a legal gun carrier was shot in the theater without his gun which he left in the car in deference to the sign were to sue that the theater endangered him, do you think he might have a case?

  5. To be fair, there’s lots of pro-gun folks who jumped right on their dead bodies to make political points too. Like you.

  6. A couple of relevant items I’ve picked up through, ahem, discussing this at the Volokh Conspiracy (plus Denver’s history here is notorious):

    Such signs have no force of law in Colorado.

    Aurora has a municipal ban on concealed carry of “dangerous weapons”. In theory preempted by state law, but Colorado’s judiciary has let Denver get away with a number of violations of that law.

  7. How could I forget this:

    David Hardy reported an email from Don Kates where he said “it turns out that Century 16 Theaters no-gun policy also applies to its own security personnel, including the off-duty policy officer on the premises.

    A fantasy indeed.

  8. It was as predictable as the sunrise that the anti-gun folks would jump all over this as ammunition for their campaign. I just briefly thought of what might have happened had a competent gun owner been packing in the theater: a double tap to the head a few seconds after the psycho opened the door and raised his weapon would have considerably reduced the carnage.

    One novel suggestion I saw elsewhere was that you should be allowed to carry anything you have a permit for – just not *concealed*. Want to pack? Carry it in the appropriate holster in full public view.

    But attitudes toward this sort of thing are highly regional. A woman I know posted about her moral issues on a mailing list we are both on a while back. She was raised good Jewish girl in NYC, and grew up in a culture where guns were Bad Things, and only the police/military should be allowed to have them. She’s in Seattle these days, where gun laws are rather different. Some friends took her target shooting. She discovered that she was good at it and (gasp!) *liked* it. But mom’s voice was in her head telling her she was a bad girl…

    I just pointed out that attitudes toward such things were regional, not universal, and she should talk to folks from say, the rural Midwest, where a boy might get his first shotgun as age 12 as a rite of passage into manhood. If she liked it, and had learned to do it safely and correctly, enjoy.

    Another chap on the list made a similar “only cops/the military” should have guns, and I suggested he was addressing a specific instance of a general case, and needed to broaden his view. He needed to look at something that had caused *far* more deaths every year than guns, and advocate that only trained, licensed government employees should be permitted to own and drive cars. It pretty much squelched the thread.

  9. It used to be that, as much I have always despised “gun-free zones”, my convictions regarding the right of property-owners to set the rules for what goes on on their property would silence my protests. Recently, however, I’ve imagined a doctrine that would put a stop to this nonsense, yet remain entirely within my libertarian sensibilities.

    By all means, let property-owners put up such signs, and let anyone who disregards them be a trespasser in the eyes of the law. However, let any such property-owner thereby assume strict liability toward all victims of any violent crime that occurs on his property. If you take away your patrons’ ability to defend themselves, it becomes fully incumbent upon you to provide for their defense, and you’re on the hook financially for any failing whatsoever in that responsibility.

  10. I think you are overestimating the impact of symbolic “Gun-Free Zone” signs. I, for one, find it impossible to imagine that any criminal knows about the existence of such a zone, takes it seriously enough to think that there are significantly fewer guns there, and selects his target because of it. The sign is a useless bit of signalling, but I really doubt that it’s actually harmful. Do you have any evidence to suggest otherwise?

  11. @DMcCunney >One novel suggestion I saw elsewhere was
    > that you should be allowed to carry anything you have a
    > permit for – just not *concealed*. Want to pack? Carry it in the appropriate holster in
    > full public view.

    I know that here in California, open carry is now a misdemeanor, as people were panicking and calling the police whenever they spotted a gun.

  12. >Do you have any evidence to suggest otherwise?

    Sure. The Aurora shooting is itself evidence.

  13. >To be fair, there’s lots of pro-gun folks who jumped right on their dead bodies to make political points too. Like you.

    No, a significant difference is that I didn’t begin the finger-pointing. I didn’t react to the massacre with immediate thoughts of how I could turn it to advantage and rush to get my slant into the first news cycle.

  14. When something like this happens in your own backyard, the emotional impact is far more direct than when viewing from afar. The whole metro area is still in shock. Turn on the radio, I hear it in the DJ’s voice. Turn on the TV, I see it in the announcer’s eyes. And only two days later, the politicizing has already begun. I feel more respect for those like the local radio stations that have pulled select songs from rotation, than I do for those that are jumping upon this event and holding it up as an example to push their policy adgenda.

    I just briefly thought of what might have happened had a competent gun owner been packing in the theater: a double tap to the head a few seconds after the psycho opened the door and raised his weapon would have considerably reduced the carnage.

    While that’s a nice thought, and I wish that had indeed been the case, that fails to take into account what actually happened. Many people were in costume to celebrate the movie’s premier. A guy in a gas mask and body armor? Oh cool — another costume! In the low light of the movie theate, the average person who’s never seen an AR-15 or Remington 870 up close before likely would have had trouble telling the difference between a real one and a realistic prop that’s part of the costume. Then consider that the gunman threw a smoke cansister which obsucred vision in the theater before opening fire. The low light combined now with smoke is going to make shooting back in a crowded theater even more hazardous. Considering that firing blind could well hit and hurt the many panicked and fleeing bystanders, the responsible thing for a gun owner to do would be to get the hell out of there. If a gun owner had a clear shot, then yes, take it. But I doubt that would have been the case here.

  15. Were there any carry permit holders among the victims who had left their guns outside in deference to the wishes of the establishment? Any carry permit holders, period? How come nobody shot the guy when he opened fire?

  16. I understand the desire to carry in defiance of attempts to ban it, but I had to give that impulse up. What that impulse is really saying is that my desire to defend myself overrules the property owner’s desire to exclude firearms. As someone who respects private property, I have to demure to the owner’s wishes. I either leave the gun at home or choose not to give them my business. You don’t have a “right” to attend a movie. The owner is operating a private business and is free to choose the rules under which they operate. Anything else is a diminution of of the property holder’s rights. That’s the same reason these “bring your gun to work” laws are so terrible. Anything that helps to further erode private property rights will ultimately be used against us to diminish all of our rights.

  17. I just briefly thought of what might have happened had a competent gun owner been packing in the theater: a double tap to the head a few seconds after the psycho opened the door and raised his weapon would have considerably reduced the carnage.

    Really? The gunman has a rifle, you are presumably carrying a small handgun. Let’s say you’re in the middle of the theatre, he’s at the back or the front or side, presumably. Are you going to fire away at his head with 100 unarmed men and women (all of whom are pushing and screaming and running for the exit) in between you and him? How many shots are you going to fire, just two or are you going to keep firing until you hit him twice in the head?

    I doubt you can hit a head-sized object twice in a row from 50 yards even with a competition pistol, a steady arm, good footing and a static target. Even if you could, I doubt you can do it with a moving target who is shooting back and who has set off a smoke bomb. And even if you could, you would not be able to do it with dozens of scared fleeing victims between you and the target.

    This is a perfect, flawless illustration of why I prefer not to be ‘protected’ by self-described ‘sheepdogs’. For all your incessant bleating about trigger discipline and safety procedure, you have no respect for the safety of anyone but yourself. No. I’ll take my chances running to the exit, and I’ll thank you to not plant yourself in the aisle, in my way, trying to ‘tap’ some distant assailant who’s standing behind me and holding a much more accurate, much powerful weapon.

    Keep your guns, I don’t care, but do me a favour and abandon this fantasy about protecting unarmed civilians. I didn’t ask you to protect me, I don’t want you to, and I am pretty sure your ‘protective’ attitude increases the overall odds of my being shot.

    This event cannot be harnessed to support the pro-gun position. Even if every civilian in the entire theater had brought a gun, there would still have been numerous fatalities other than the shooter. Now, to be honest with you, I don’t think this event is a great argument for additional gun control either, since Norway (which has rather more restrictive laws than Colorado) very recently had the attacks by Breivik. I think it’s reasonable and inevitable that events like this cause us to reopen a debate on gun legislation, but it is ridiculous to act like having either more *or* less restrictive laws could have prevented the shootings.

  18. Jeremyraises a point that I saw raised on Slashdot as well. Let’s pretend that everyone in the theatre (or even half or a quarter, but some significant percentage) were carrying. Now what would the death rate have been? I would posit that in that situation it would have been higher. Including among the folks carrying.

    Person A comes into the theatre and starts shooting (and throwing smoke bombs). Person B pulls out his (and it will be a him won’t it) gun, and is then shot by Person C who also has a gun, and thinks that Person B is actually Person A. Person D, who has heard the shots, but can’t see anything, sees Person C shooting, and does the “right thing” and shoots the person who he (again, it it is going to be a man isn’t it) thinks is causing all the problems. Etc.

    As opposed to another scenario where Person A comes into the theatre, and everyone sensibly tries to get the fuck out, ’cause they can’t see anything.

    The problem with everyone, or even large numbers of people, carrying guns everywhere, is that not everyone (or even large numbers of people) will recognise the correct response in different situations. Police often fuck up, and they are meant to be trained! So why can we expect ordinary citizens to do better?

  19. >So why can we expect ordinary citizens to do better?

    Because, as a matter of observed statistical fact, they do better. Self-motivated civilian shooters routinely train to a higher level than cops, because bullets and range time are expensive.

  20. >What that impulse is really saying is that my desire to defend myself overrules the property owner’s desire to exclude firearms.

    See Daniel Franke’s post. I accept the right of property owners to ban my weapons when and only when they take full responsibility for defending my life and exhibit the competence and resources to do it.

  21. Bennett, Michael, etc., it is simply not interesting that you can construct strawmen where the presence of armed citizens would not have made a difference or would have made things worse (the latter in contradiction of what we know about US citizens who’ve actually used their guns in public self-defense situations). That’s simply a form of mental masturbation.

    Instead I recommend examining what people who regularly carry have to say, and see if you can knock holes in that. You can find my initial very early analysis here.

  22. Given how the perp was armored, my little 9mm wouldn’t have done much good unless I was in contact distance in that confusion and able to put it right in his ear. I’ve been tear gassed in the Army and standing at distance to shoot at that screwball wasn’t an option. On the plus side, he was wearing a gas mask and that severely limited his field of vision. Had a motivated protector been able to get near him contact was likely achievable. That would have been tough in that environment if you didn’t start out close to him in the first place.

  23. the latter in contradiction of what we know about US citizens who’ve actually used their guns in public self-defense situations

    If you can point me to one case where civilian gun-owners have made things better in a crowded theater, I will concede the point. Just one. I’m not asking you to prove that on balance, statistically speaking, it is safer with guns in a theater than without. I just want you to provide one example of a case where it turned out well. One single instance.

  24. We DO have good evidence that private persons carrying legal weapons could well have saved lives in this instance:

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_7684728

    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/905527-gun-toting-71-year-old-man-sends-robbers-scrambling-for-the-door

    There are plenty more similar instances. All gun control propaganda BS to the contrary, Robert A. Heinlein remains an acute observer of the human condition when he wrote “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

  25. concede the point, Bennett. It was a crowded church not to strain your challenge too far. It was a stupid point in any case. I am a gun novice and know enough already not to shoot without knowing my target and what lies beyond. You must think all conceal carry people are morons ?

  26. >Even if you could, I doubt you can do it with a moving target who is shooting back and who has set off a smoke bomb.

    Which is nobody with a brain would try treating this tactical problem as though they were at the range.

    The first thing you do in this situation is drop to cover – get low. The second thing you do is ready your weapon. The third thing you do is maneuver to get behind or side-on to the goblin. Then you take your shot slowly. You try never to expose the weapon where the goblin can easily spot it; one way, in a theater, would be to fire between chair backs. He’s wearing a mask? That’s good, it’s going to compromise his peripheral vision. And the smoke bomb makes it just as difficult for him to see you as it does for you to see him. (In a clutch situation I would do this tactical analysis much faster than it took me to write that paragraph.)

    Yes, people may be dying because you didn’t try a hasty shot and get lucky, but your gun can’t do any good if the goblin takes you down because you presented a big fat target. Your job is to reduce net mortality, not get yourself killed looking heroic.

    Bennett, some of us have spent years training for these situations, thinking about them, and practicing responses precisely because we believe it is our duty and our honor to protect others. We won’t stop just because glib idiots like you don’t get it.

  27. We DO have good evidence that private persons carrying legal weapons could well have saved lives in this instance:

    In your first case, the defender was a security guard, not some random civilian, and she was outside the church when the shooting started, and as far as the article tells us, she waited for everyone to leave before taking the shot.

    In your second example the gun-owner prevented a robbery, we have no reason to suspect that the robbers would have killed anyone if they had been unopposed. Also, not a crowded theater.

  28. Which is [why] nobody with a brain would try treating this tactical problem as though they were at the range.

    I was responding to DMcCunney, who seems to think a ‘double-tap to the head’ would have prevented anyone from getting shot. I don’t dispute that someone in the audience with a gun could have eventually shot the Aurora gunman, after dropping to the floor, readying their shot, waiting for the audience to clear out of the way, maybe firing off several fairly hazardous rounds through the smoke. But so what? You’ve saved nobody, in the best-case scenario you’ve only ensured that the gunman died. Big whoop.

  29. >On the plus side, he was wearing a gas mask and that severely limited his field of vision.

    Was he? Hm, well, that certainly vindicates my previous tactical analysis…get low and maneuver. I carry .45ACP which is a heavier round; if I could get to within 20 feet I’d try a head shot and then drop again, because with a gas mask on and a smoke bomb gone off the goblin wouldn’t be able to see shit. And, well, if he’s looking for me it gives the women and children time to get clear.

  30. One of the first thoughts to cross my mind after hearing the reactions to the shooting was the “what if the whole theater had been armed” hypothetical. Tear gas and body armor certainly help the shooter’s chances, particularly against one or two armed audience members, but at some point the odds swing in favor of the defenders. Whether the obscured vision, panicked civilians, or prevalent costuming would have resulted in more deaths had there been an armed response, I don’t know, but a dozen dead and fifty-odd wounded from an unchallenged killer is a pretty high benchmark to live up to. My impression is that any sort of firefight, however one-sided, would distract the killer and buy time for the rest of the theater. I don’t have the knowledge to say that with certainty.

  31. >You’ve saved nobody, in the best-case scenario you’ve only ensured that the gunman died. Big whoop.

    You don’t know that. As long as the goblin is holding a gun, lives would be saved by me putting a bullet in him. The fact that perfection isn’t achievable doesn’t remove our duty to defend. If you were a man rather than a blob of cowardly slime that walks and talks, you’d understand that.

  32. One important correction to esr’s comment

    The first thing you do in this situation is drop to cover….

    Cover is that which can stop your adversary from harming you. Armor, enough dirt, etc. Concealment merely prevents your adversary from directly seeing you, but he can shoot through it.

    In this situation, useful cover would be hard to find. A whole row of chairs with you at one end and the shooter at the other. Doorways would not be useful due to people fleeing and the likely distance from any of them to the shooter by the time you got to one.

    You analysis is otherwise pretty good, except that once you got a look at him you’d assume he was wearing body armor (and of course that’s been unreliably reported but a Denver Post/AP picture of his vest is consistent with real body armor) and you’d take more than one shot. Perhaps shoot and scoot as I outlined in my analysis.

  33. Also,

    Bennett, some of us have spent years training for these situations, thinking about them, and practicing responses

    Don’t you see that this is exactly what worries me? I’m worried that you (and other people with your mindset – this isn’t personal) are involved in trying to live out an empowerment fantasy in which you defeat some evil ‘goblin’ and are hailed as a hero. Can you see why I would think this might cause you to escalate situations that don’t need to be escalated?

    The internet cafe example given by BioBob is a great example. Nobody had to die there, probably nobody would have died if the 71-year-old didn’t decide to be the hero (either with or without a gun, doesn’t matter)

  34. >Concealment merely prevents your adversary from directly seeing you, but he can shoot through it.

    Correction accepted. The theater environment provides concealment but not cover.

  35. >trying to live out an empowerment fantasy in which you defeat some evil ‘goblin’ and are hailed as a hero.

    It’s not about being a hero, it’s about doing your duty as an adult male human being.

  36. erm … the Colorado example was a congregation member and former member of the armed services. She was a chosen guard from the congregation BECAUSE of her skill, not a paid mecenary.

    Bennet, I can see you straining at gnats due to your agenda rather than displaying rationality.

  37. I have met someone I have reason to believe would be capable of shooting a criminal in a situation like this. (He did the equvalent at war.). I don’t believe it’s impossible. And if it is possible, then we ought to be very damn grateful to those who are capable of defending innocents.

  38. >My impression is that any sort of firefight, however one-sided, would distract the killer and buy time for the rest of the theater. I don’t have the knowledge to say that with certainty.

    Your impression is correct, or at least borne out by after-action reports from similar incidents.

  39. >> The internet cafe example given by BioBob is a great example. Nobody had to die there, probably nobody would have died if the 71-year-old didn’t decide to be the hero (either with or without a gun, doesn’t matter)

    Nobody died, only wounded. The robbers are lucky. Now, we have two robbers are scared shit of any 70 years old man and will never pull the stunt again.

  40. Bennett, you are misrepresenting the facts of the New Life Church shooting. Jeanne Assam was a “security guard” only in the sense that the church had asked her to do security. She was a volunteer and not paid. She was in the same tactical situation as any armed civilian would have been there. She showed exactly how it could have been done.

    The problem, Bennett, is your fantasy, not reality. Because that is what your objections are, the product of your fantasy.

  41. Bennett: And probably no one will die because no one has to date, although the perpetrators are probably still feeling more than a little pain.

    Given you level of reading comprehension I don’t think I’ll replying to you in the future.

  42. The history of schizophrenic, attention-seeking shooters (which I believe we’ll find that Holmes was) is that they fold up quickly at the first sign of effective resistance. Indeed, Holmes folded up at the first sign of police with no attempt to shoot it out with them, despite having the element of surprise ( the first patrol car to see him confused him with other responding police for a brief period ).

  43. goblin… slime that walks and talks

    If I’m a slime that walks and talks, does that put me in the same category for you as goblins? Or do you only shoot monsters level 3 and above?

    I’m not talking about live-action Dungeons and Dragons, just so we’re on the same page. I’m talking about actual real life. In actual real life your THAC0 is not that low. It is not your duty to fire your gun in a smoky, panicked movie theater. No matter how male you are.( Super male though, am I right?)

  44. Now, we have two robbers are scared shit of any 70 years old man and will never pull the stunt again.

    A meme the Instapundit has tried hard to promote is that “The secret of social harmony is simple: Old men must be dangerous.

  45. A quick note regarding the law of “gun free” signs. Among the states that allow civilian concealed carry with or without permit, some states enforce such signs on private property with the force of law, some states enforce such signs only if they exactly conform to statutory requirements (Texas is an example I believe) and in some states, such a sign is without legal effect essentially – ie., it is not a criminal offense in and of itself to ignore it.

  46. >If I’m a slime that walks and talks, does that put me in the same category for you as goblins?

    No, you’re merely a moral coward with a deficient grasp of your duty as a man. Possibly though not necessarily a physical coward as well; I mention this not to attempt an unmerited insult but to establish that I am clear on the distinction.

    >It is not your duty to fire your gun in a smoky, panicked movie theater.

    If I judge that I decrease the odds of more deaths by doing so, it is very much my duty to fire. My duty further includes risking and (in imaginable circumstances) sacrificing my life. My duty before the fact includes being prepared to act and developing the skills required to plan an effective response. This is one of the major reasons I carry a weapon.

  47. A moral coward, ESR? I don’t know. But I’ve got a contempt for the idea that civilians can’t be trusted to defend themselves against a mass murderer based on the suspicion, of people like Bennett, of the motives of those defending themselves.

    Because that’s what Bennett himself has explicitly said above troubles him about people willing to defend themselves … their motives.

  48. @Bennett

    Good CCW training includes stress innoculation. It also includes “draw while sitting” “draw without being noticed” “take concelament” “shoot from behind furniture”.

    This is a free society – you can live wherever you want. If you want to avoid the heavily armed hellhole of misplaced machismo and soi-distant masturbatory manhood compensation that is Vermont, where it’s estimated that 4% of adults carry at some point during the day, you can.

    I hear, once you get used to the sounds of constant running gunbattles, they have pretty good maple syrup.

    You might also want to avoid Indiana. Fortunately, you can live in Chicago if you’d prefer. Of course, the night after Aurora, Chicago, with some of the most restrictive handgun rules in the country, and three weeks after a “turn in your guns, get $100 in gift cards, no questions asked.” that pulled in 5,500 guns, has running gunfire in the streets as a multi-sided gang war has erupted (again), that has, in one night, killed 3, and injured 21, and killed more than 15 and injured over 100 since May.

  49. Yeah I just want to clarify something. I’m not again guns, or against people having or owning guns. I’m against gun culture that glorifies guns, and says that owning a gun is always going to be the solution to your problem.

    It maybe that one or two highly motivated individuals carrying a gun in this theatre could have prevented many, most or even all of the deaths. However, can you all say that if even one quarter of the audience were carrying (and they haven’t all trained as well as you have, and they haven’t thought about tactics as much as you have), that there would have been fewer deaths? Can you say that everyone who owns a gun (and carries) is as good as you at shooting? At tactics? At thinking on the spot?

    Think about the worst driver you’ve ever seen. Do you want to encounter them on a slippery, narrow road, in foggy conditions, at night? It’s bad enough with good enough drivers. Now you want to take the gun-owning equivalently no-skills and say, get in there and shoot ‘em up? OK, maybe that’s harsh. But that could well be the result.

    (And I will now bow out of the conversation, because by the time I see it next it will have blown out to 150 or more comments.)

  50. If I judge that I decrease the odds of more deaths by doing so, it is very much my duty to fire.

    Your duties do not flow from your judgments in this way. In the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, the Russian special forces judged that they could decrease the odds of more deaths by pumping toxic gas into the theater. As it turned out, they were wrong. Was it their duty to pump gas into the theater? Should we applaud them as extra-male specimens of men? No – at least not unless it was completely unforeseeable that something might have gone wrong with their plan.

    Since we disagree on the issue of whether or not you decrease the odds of death by opening fire in a theater (and bearing in mind that we’re not even arguing about soccer fields, or internet cafes) and since the evidence is at best completely equivocal on this point, there is no reasonably way you can claim a duty to open fire.

  51. LOL @ SPQR

    I like any of my motives that mean I live and the aggressor dies I work hard to make sure that I am capable of achieving the desired outcome.

    Refusal to be a victim is the starting attitude.

  52. This is a free society – you can live wherever you want. If you want to avoid the heavily armed hellhole of misplaced machismo and soi-distant masturbatory manhood compensation that is Vermont, where it’s estimated that 4% of adults carry at some point during the day, you can.

    You guys are on such a hair-trigger, you automatically assume that any dissenting voice buys into every argument you have ever heard against your views. This is the worst unique quality of American political discourse, for my money. I have never said, on this blog or anywhere else, that I’m against people owning and carrying guns.

    I am not against what happened on the soccer pitch in Pennsylvania, linked above. I am not against self-defence with a gun (though it depends how much it imperils bystanders on a case-by-case basis.) What I am against is people ‘defending’ me against my will, and all I have argued here today is that I am against people ‘defending’ others unasked in a crowded, smoke-filled movie theatre.

  53. Michael wrote: …. says that owning a gun is always going to be the solution to your problem.

    That isn’t gun culture, Michael. That’s the strawman of the anti-gun culture.

  54. >What I am against is people ‘defending’ me against my will, and all I have argued here today is that I am against people ‘defending’ others unasked in a crowded, smoke-filled movie theatre.

    Because you believe defenders firing in the situation will worsen the casualty. Which is to say, if the defenders have a clear shot of the gunman, they will shoot him.

  55. Micheal, let me pose a hypothetical.
    Suppose 20 or 40 or 100 people in the 1st few rows of seats in the theater had conceal carry permits. Would you give James Holmes good odds ? He probably would have been toasted in seconds.

  56. >However, can you all say that if even one quarter of the audience were carrying (and they haven’t all trained as well as you have, and they haven’t thought about tactics as much as you have), that there would have been fewer deaths?

    I can say that after-action reports of incidents where civilians in a crowd returned fire against a rampage killer are actually very encouraging on this score. It’s rare for bystanders to be wounded or killed. One reason you can be sure of this is that if such friendly-fire casualties were not rare, they would be a central theme in VPC and Brady campaign propaganda.

  57. Bennet really is delusional. If I drew a concealed weapon, I would not be defending HIM, I would be defending MY FAMILY and MYSELF. Any others involved are only incidental collateral altruism.

  58. Bennett,

    Your duties do not flow from your judgments in this way. In the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, the Russian special forces judged that they could decrease the odds of more deaths by pumping toxic gas into the theater. As it turned out, they were wrong.

    If duty does not flow from judgment, what the hell DOES it flow from?

    And citing the techniques of Russian special forces is the height of sophistry. They are known to carefully cultivate their reputation for callousness, in the belief that it serves state interests in the long run. I think it likely that they considered a non-trivial number of civilian deaths to be acceptable collateral damage, if not actually a good thing.

    A prudent American with firearms training would not. There is a difference there, and the difference is morally significant. If you can’t recognize that, you’re a few steps away from drawing an analogy to Nazi reprisal massacres.

  59. ESR, I can really only recall one recently, an incident in a convenience store.

  60. Bennett, getting offended at responses to your comments, when you wrote so many offensive statements – comparing us to Spetznaz and claiming that we were only interested in heroic fantasies, is offensively stupid.

  61. >Your duties do not flow from your judgments in this way.

    I consider that they do, and you have no say in the matter.

    >Was it their duty to pump gas into the theater?

    Given that it was their best judgement of how to minimize loss of life in that situation, yes. However, the onus of having been mistaken in that judgment also falls on them. Just as it would on me if I killed a bystander. I accept the risk that I might have to live the rest of my life knowing I had made a terrible, irreversible mistake. Because the only way to completely avoid that risk would be to fail in a duty that is more important yet.

    >the evidence is at best completely equivocal on this point

    Fool, I know the capabilities of my weapons and what I’ve trained for. You do not. You are in no position to prejudge.

  62. If duty does not flow from judgment, what the hell DOES it flow from?

    I didn’t say that duty does not flow from judgment, I said *your* duty does not flow from *your judgment*. It is not sophistry to suggest that your duty does not flow from mistaken or deluded judgments that you make – we can leave the Russian situation aside if you prefer, because examples are endless. Was it Sirhan Sirhan’s duty to shoot RFK? Was it McVeigh’s duty to bomb a building in Oklahoma? They judged it to be their duty.

    Where does your duty come from, if not from your own individual judgement? It depends on which standard you’re using. Many areas of law and philosophy use a ‘reasonable person’ standard – what a ‘reasonable person’ would judge to be their duty. Some areas say that your duty is established by popular consensus. And yet others say that your duty is established by objective facts about the world. In each of these cases, your *actual* effectiveness with the gun is what establishes your duty, not your (possibly delusional) judgments about your effectiveness.

  63. This is the worst unique quality of American political discourse, for my money.

    Actually, the worst quality in political discourse is the liberal view that motivations trump over results/consequences. A view you evidently hold, Bennett, by your own statements.

  64. >>Your duties do not flow from your judgments in this way.
    >I consider that they do, and you have no say in the matter.

    What? You seem confused. You clearly think you have a say in what my duty is, since you told me above “it’s about doing [my] duty as an adult male human being.” So you clearly think we can have a say in what the duties of others are.

    If I’ve misunderstood, and you think that duties are entirely subjective and agent-relative, I refer you to Timothy McVeigh and Sirhan Sirhan, and I suggest you need to reconsider your account of duty.

  65. Bennett: If you don’t trust your neighbors with concealed firearms, the problem isn’t the firearms. The problem is that you’ve chosen to live in a place where you don’t trust your neighbors.

    The “Is everyone else as good as you are” argument can be deconstructed in other ways.

    1) The percentage of people who want to own guns and carry them in regular life is somewhere around 3-4% of the general population in Western societies.
    2) This is very much a self selecting group. Unlike getting a driver’s license, there is no insurance that you can carry exculpating you from liability. In round numbers if you’re a CCW holder and you screw up, expect to be criminally charged. Even if you only minorly screw up, expect to be out $20K.
    3) This is a self selecting group in other ways. There’s no financial incentive to doing this. There’s no material gain from doing it; spending time at the range and putting in the rounds every two weeks to remain a good shooter adds up.

    To answer the questions: I would expect most CCWers who’ve gone through the usual courses to be able to A) take cover, B) try to establish a sight line on the opponent, C) move outside of his sight line and D) shoot without revealing themselves in a movie theater. Preferably while kneeling between seats.

    I would also expect most of them to be better shots than I – I’m legally blind. I would be aiming high if possible just to complicate his tactical picture and to minimize the risk that I’d hit one of the panicking people running for the exit.

  66. >Actually, the worst quality in political discourse is the liberal view that motivations trump over results/consequences. A view you evidently hold, Bennett, by your own statements.

    Don’t keep harping on that. In the first place it is not a liberal view to say that motivations are morally relevant, it is a position that belongs to Catholic ethics, and it is exceedingly popular among liberals and conservatives alike.

    But as it happens, I don’t think that motivations matter at all in a moral sense. They matter to me here in a practical sense, because I think someone who is motivated to live out a fantasy and be a hero is more likely to put me at risk in the name of ‘protecting’ me.

  67. No, Bennett, I think I will keep harping on that. Because I think that that line of yours tells us much more about your motivations than ours.

  68. >Bennett: If you don’t trust your neighbors with concealed firearms, the problem isn’t the firearms.

    Sigh. Again, I’m not against people having concealed firearms.

    - I’m against people opening fire with handguns in a crowded, smoky theater which is in the process of being evacuated.
    - I’m against this moronic suggestion that everything in Aurora would have been ok, just so long as some citizen could have given the gunman a ‘double tap’ in the head.
    - More generally, I’m against the ‘sheepdog’ justification of concealed firearms, where it’s suggested that everyone will be safer (whether they like it or not) if there are concealed guns everywhere. Stick to the self-defense justification, where you’re on much more solid ground.

  69. >So you clearly think we can have a say in what the duties of others are.

    I can tell others what I think their duty is. I cannot enforce it on them, and don’t seek the power to do so. I can state that I think you are cowardly slime, but I have no power to make you behave differently than you do, nor to make others behave as though they believe likewise. If I were offered power over your personal choices I wouldn’t take it; I will interfere with you only to the extent you jeopardize others.

    You get no say in my judgement of duty because you have repeatedly given me reason to think you are cowardly and morally incompetent.

  70. >You get no say in my judgement of duty because you have repeatedly given me reason to think you are cowardly and morally incompetent.

    Yes, yes, but none of that establishes that you get to be the sole arbiter of what your duties are.

    Anyhow, I guess I’ll leave you guys alone in your echo chamber. Eric and SPQR are resorting to repeated ad-hominem attacks, and Ken and Mastiff et al are attributing anti-gun views to me that I do not hold. I think that is as close you can ever get on this blog to winning an argument.

  71. The same losing old arguments. Buck up, the Bennets of this world have lost control or the moral high ground as if they ever had it and it irks them no end.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TFb9GBfkUc

    right to carry is here to stay and gaining more grassroots support after every incident – “An Armed society is a polite society” …smile as you say that !

    You LOSE Bennet, we win.

  72. @esr

    Please don’t ignore the signs. Just don’t enter the business in the first place. The last thing that we need is to give the Brady Campaign and their ilk headlines like “Psycho arrested for trespassing with a a handgun of mass murder”; which is what the headlines will say, because it scares better.

    @Bennet

    >Nobody had to die there, probably nobody would have died if the 71-year-old
    >didn’t decide to be the hero (either with or without a gun, doesn’t matter)

    Sorry, “probably” isn’t good enough for me. When you go to a movie theater, at midnight, you “probably” won’t be killed by a deranged lunatic in body armor and a gas mask either. If you want to be unprotected, that’s fine, go unprotected. If you don’t want me to protect you, that’s fine too, I’ll protect myself and leave you be. You do not, however, get to deny me the right to protect myself simply because you don’t want protection from the dangerous elements of society.

    Every this discussion comes up, someone always trots out the “what if person A shoots the criminal, then person B shoots person A, then C shoots B and D shoots C and so on ad absurdum. The problem is, these scenarios never seem to play out when civilians defend themselves and others. Yes, there have been some cases where a civilian or a plain clothes officer was shot in a case of mistaken identity, but the vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t happen. Turns out, as a species, we’re pretty good at picking out threats. That little voice in your head that tells you something isn’t right is usually right. And in cases like this, the bad guy is easy to identify, he’s the asshole walking around like he owns the place, killing everyone. Turns out, most civilian defenses don’t look like the shootout at the OK Corral. And yes, sometimes (as any good gun owner should know) the safest and best thing to do is not to take the shot. Not every scenario can or will be solved by a gun, but in those scenarios that must be solved by a gun, no other tool will do.

    In general though, I find the politicizing of these events to be distasteful in the extreme. It would be common decency for folks to let the bodies cool and be buried before turning the corpses into their cause célèbre. This included both the anti-gun crowd, who are always suspiciously silent on murders that don’t involve guns, and the pro-self defense crowd, who always seem to pop up with folks talking about “If I were there, a double tap to the head and it would be all over”. It would be, IMO, far more effective and classier for the pro-self defense people to simply point out (if they must respond at all) that plenty of laws were already broken (like that big one about murder) and that whether or not anyone would have at the time, the banishment on civilian carry precluded even the possibility of a civilian being able to defend or protect themselves until the cops showed up, and leaving it at that. No need for macho bragging about your tactical training or how you would have handled it, leave that discussion for another day.

  73. esr,

    I say thank you to your willingness to ignore gun-free zone policies in order to protect yourself and as part of “collateral altruism” perhaps me, my family, friends, neighbors, etc.

    However, I’m finding your concept of “duty as an adult male human being” to be iffy, to say the least. I don’t have a problem when you say that “some of us have spent years training for these situations, thinking about them, and practicing responses precisely because we believe it is our duty and our honor to protect others.” If that’s a duty you personally believe for yourself, go for it. However, I don’t believe that all adult male human beings have a duty to arm themselves and spend significant time training for such situations. While I would’ve taken bullets to save my wife and children if necessary, guns are just not my thing and I strongly disagree that I have a duty to own, train, carry, and use them in such a situation.

  74. @ Bennet

    >More generally, I’m against the ‘sheepdog’ justification of concealed firearms,
    >where it’s suggested that everyone will be safer (whether they like it or not) if there are
    >concealed guns everywhere. Stick to the self-defense justification, where you’re on
    >much more solid ground.

    Everyone in general would be safer if more civilians had and were trained in the proper use of their guns. But it would occur, even if every single person were simply doing it to defend themselves. It’s like herd immunity from a vaccine. If enough people are armed, and enough people are willing to defend themselves, then the criminals have no way of knowing who is who, and the propensity for crimes of all stripes goes down. It’s no accident that as the number of civilians capable and willing to defend themselves goes down, the number of police, and the powers needed to grant them increases. The duty of the police is incumbent in every citizen in every society. This asinine belief that somehow being a cop makes you special in regards to keeping society safe is a fallacy that should be stamped out. The only thing that makes a cop different is that a cop is paid to devote his full time attention to those duties, where as civilians have other jobs.

  75. Bennett:

    Here’s a hypothetical:

    You and a CCW permit holder (that you’re unaware is carrying the gun) are in a situation where the gun could reasonably come out and be tactically useful. You are in close proximity.

    How do you signal your intention not to accept that CCW-permit holder’s protection? Do you ask for a negotiation period after he pulls his gun out in response? Do you attempt to grab his gun? Do you get behind him and then run away, telling him not to shoot until you’re out of the room?

    If you disagree with a tactical assessment, but lack the ability to change the tactical environment in a way that’s beneficial, how much weight should someone grant your objection?

  76. Yeah… and we should ban all carry and conceal permits for canisters of tear gas as well …citizens simply should not be allowed to carry restricted military weapons.

    Oh wait…

  77. Bennett, I’m not engaging in ad hominem attacks. I’m using your own ad hominem attacks to illustrate my points.

    Which I’m sure stings.

  78. Let’s pretend we live in a fantasy world where guns are banned. Hell, they don’t even _exist_. Mr. Holmes apartment was reportedly full of home-made bombs but I haven’t heard anyone demanding more bomb-control laws.

  79. >However, I’m finding your concept of “duty as an adult male human being” to be iffy, to say the least.

    It’s a duty that was well and generally understood until about a century ago. And I don’t actually mean to insist that every adult male has a duty to train in the way that I have – just that if you’re in the movie theater when the psycho cuts loose it presumptively is your duty to help take him down. Just as it was Tod Beemer’s duty to attack the terrorists on Flight 93.

    I say “presumptively” because circumstances alter cases. Ken Burnside is legally blind; it would be ridiculous to interpret his duty as including shooting at someone in a smoky theater. On the other hand, he’s as good or better with a sword than I am (clearly better with a thrusting sword, not so much with a broadsword or short blades). If Ken had a blade in his hand and were within rushing distance of the goblin, he would know his duty and he would do it.

    On the other hand, my duty to defend my wife is at least theoretically diminished a little by the fact that she’s a capable shooter, swordsman, and hand-to-hand fighter herself. If someone threatened her on the street I’d give her the respect of allowing her to administer the required lesson, roaring in like the wrath of God only if it looked the threat was beyond her ability to handle alone.

    The circumstances of my life make it relatively easy to train to defend others even in situations as hairy as the Aurora shooting; that may not be true of you. Don’t read me as claiming you have a duty to go shoot tactical pistol or learn Krav Maga. Nobody can reasonably demand that you do what you can’t do.

    But even if you can’t train to be a first responder in situations like the Aurora shooting, I think you do, in fact, have a duty to carry effective weapons to defend your family against whatever threats present themselves in your normal environment. It is right and proper in a man that you’re willing to take bullets for your wife and children if doing so will save their lives, but they deserve a live husband and father, not a dead one.

    Maybe that means a carry pistol, maybe it means a home-defense shotgun, maybe just a fighting baton or a knife where you can reach it in a hurry – I dunno, depends on where you live and travel. The mind is the first weapon; the place to begin is by understanding your responsibility and planning to meet it.

  80. I can say that after-action reports of incidents where civilians in a crowd returned fire against a rampage killer are actually very encouraging on this score. It’s rare for bystanders to be wounded or killed. One reason you can be sure of this is that if such friendly-fire casualties were not rare, they would be a central theme in VPC and Brady campaign propaganda.

    Can’t argue with that.

    Bennett, Michael, etc., it is simply not interesting that you can construct strawmen where the presence of armed citizens would not have made a difference or would have made things worse (the latter in contradiction of what we know about US citizens who’ve actually used their guns in public self-defense situations). That’s simply a form of mental masturbation.

    Instead I recommend examining what people who regularly carry have to say, and see if you can knock holes in that. You can find my initial very early analysis here.

    It was not my intention to construct a strawman, or encourage others to do so. Based on Eric’s analysis further up, and the one you posted in your link, I’ll conceed that a properly trained shooter could have made a postive difference in that situation. However, I’m not tactically trained. It’s been at least 4 years since I’ve fired a gun and even back then I wasn’t very good. Given what I know about my ability to put bullets where I want them to go, even at very short ranges, and given my utter lack of training in stressful situations, I’m certain that I would have made things worse if I’d been in that situation, had a gun and shot back.

  81. Jeremy: I did not explicitly or implicitly include you in my comment, since your analysis was overall fairly strong, especially in poking a hole I hadn’t though of in idea of taking the shooter out as he entered the theater. There was likely not enough info to make the shoot/don’t shoot decision (which from deliberately nasty simulations I know can be hard) before he attacked.

    I did have a problem with your “firing blind” middle, simply because that’s a gross violation of Rule 4, something that was drummed into my head by my father as early as age 3 (that’s when he started taking me and my siblings out hunting). It does of course happen, accidentally in e.g. the case of VP Cheney (I note that while he took us dove hunting at age 10, a type where you stay in place and wing shoot, the age for quail hunting was a judgement call), and I’m pretty sure some hunting “accidents” are disguised murders (there was a very suspicious one in my area not long ago).

    I’m also entirely unsure it wouldn’t be difficult to pick him out, assuming he’s sort of facing you. Flash hiders are designed to preserve the shooter’s night vision, they don’t work so well the other way. Unless he was using rounds with low flash powder (and I don’t know how well they work), every time he fired he’d be lighting himself up, very possibly even through the smoke. So blind firing wouldn’t be needed.

    And then you closed strongly with pretty much my conclusion, which of course is a sign of right thinking ^_^, although I focus more on the distance and cover issues.

  82. esr wrote: “you do, in fact, have a duty to carry effective weapons to defend your family against whatever threats present themselves in your normal environment.

    My normal environment? In my multiple decades as an adult, nobody has ever physically threatened me or my family. Not much reason to carry weaponry in my normal environment, (especially if more folks like yourself are carrying weapons).

    The “effective” weapon thing is the main reason I don’t have any weapons (other than things like a baseball bat). I’ve shot various small caliber rifles and pistols and I find it very hard to hit a target consistently. I’ve given this a lot of that and I could be a gun owner but that wouldn’t do me or anybody else much good as the “effective” part would be missing.

    Could I train enough to become effective? Possibly. But I’m the sort of person who loses skill the second he stops doing something all the time.

    And then I consider what could be done instead with all that training time: more time with my wife and children, more time making money so the kids can go to college somewhat less encumbered with debt, more time enjoying life, etc. So I’ve made the very conscious tradeoff to live with the risk of a rare event like Aurora that I may or may not be able to stop and instead invest my time elsewhere.

    My duty is to provide for my family the best I can and make tradeoffs where I have to.

  83. >My normal environment? In my multiple decades as an adult, nobody has ever physically threatened me or my family.

    You’re fortunate. That almost resolves the ethical issue, then. But you should at least think about hedging against extreme cases. Like, if you live in or near near a large urban area, what might happen during a riot or an extended power outage.

    >I could be a gun owner but that wouldn’t do me or anybody else much good as the “effective” part would be missing.

    I see, yes, that’s a tough constraint. Have you considered a light shotgun, like a Mossberg? Excellent home defense, doesn’t have to be aimed precisely. Won’t solve the Aurora case, but under your constraints there’s not much you could do about that one anyway.

  84. The general rule of thumb is that it takes about 10 hours of range time to become “comfortable” with a species of gun (shotgun, long arm, large pistol, small pistol). It takes about 2 hours to become familiar with a specific model, and about 40 hours of training to get decent stress innoculation so that you can think while the shit is flying, make tactical assessments and move effectively.

    Beyond that, the adage I’ve always heard is “50 to 100 rounds every two weeks with your weapon(s) of choice.”

    Practice the following:
    – Look for exits and cover/concealment no matter where you are. No need to be obvious about it.
    – Practice your draw, sitting down. Practice drawing, and dry firing, sitting down. If you have a range that can accommodate it, practice your draw and fire at targets while sitting down.
    – As above, while kneeling, and around the side of a desk.

    Range shooting is not combat shooting. Range shooting assumes you can always plant your feet properly, form an isometric grip with a push/pull to stabilize. Practice shooting with “bad” posture once you get comfortable with your shot groupings.

    If you’re willing to destroy a couple of $5 windbreakers, learning how to shoot a gun from your pocket with some semblance of accuracy is a worthwhile skill to pick up, but it’s messy and you’re going to be appalled at your accuracy (or lack therof.)

  85. Very good advice, Ken. However, its only the enthusiast that is going to be able to maintain that level of regular firing practice.

  86. Pingback: Cliff of Insanity « Maspik Teruzim

  87. Is it possible to legally purchase firearms and ammo without having the proper training?

  88. @ Bret

    >My normal environment? In my multiple decades as an adult, nobody has ever
    >physically threatened me or my family. Not much reason to carry weaponry in my
    >normal environment

    Nor myself, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to at least put some thought towards personal safety. Even in places where you are and have been perfectly safe in the past doesn’t exclude the possibility of danger. Consider the following:

    I once lived in an apartment just a mile away from the college I was attending. This apartment was not in a bad part of town, nor was the college itself. One afternoon, around 1 PM, bullets came through my roommate’s window and buried themselves in his couch. In fact, had he not decided to take a nap 5 minutes earlier, he would have been shot. We called the police to report shots fired. Now at the time, we lived 15 minutes by foot from the nearest police sub station. The police eventually arrived to investigate … 45 minutes later. For those 45 minutes, we remained essentially barricaded in our apartment, unsure of whether it was safe to leave or not. The police never did find who did the shooting. The question is, knowing that it would take the police 45 minutes to respond to a gun shot call, the question became, what could or should I do in the event that such a shooting was followed by an actual attack on my home, and can a reasonably rely on police to keep me safe in such an event?

    A year or two later, I’m living in a different apartment in a different part of town, but again not a dangerous part of town, mostly young working professionals and college students. This time, I wake up one morning to a knock on my door. I answer the door and find a plain clothes police officer who wants to ask me questions. It turns out, my next door neighbor is a wanted, violent felon with a couple of warrants out for his arrest, and the police have finally tracked him down to the town home next door. Never felt threatened, never had any reason to suspect, but 30 minutes and a whole lot of shouting later, and my neighbor is going to jail.

    3 years later, different city, again not a bad part of town. This time rich up and coming professionals and medical students. My wife is the assistant manager at the apartment complex, we’re on our way out for the evening when we notice a whole lot of police at one of the buildings. We head over to see whats going on and find out if we need to call in the property manager and owners, and we find out that one of our tenant’s friends had brought another “friend” over for the evening who apparently took exception to something that was said and proceeded to assault the tenant. When they got the assailant outside, he apparently retrieved a gun and shot our tenant’s door before running off.

    In each of these 3 cases, I never had reason to suspect before or even after the events in question that I was ever unsafe, or that my life could or would be threatened with any particular frequency above the statistical norm. I still don’t feel that any of those locations were unsafe, and would live in any of them again (barring my distaste for living with college students these days), but it seems quite clear to me that even if you have never personally been attacked, and even if you live in a nice neighborhood, there is always an element of society that doesn’t obey the laws, and some days, you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    No one expects to be a victim of crime, but you don’t always get to choose the whens and the wheres, sometimes it happens to you, and the best you can do is be prepared. I’m sure no one in that theater expected to be shot that night, just as I’m sure no one on virginia tech’s campus expected to be shot, I’m sure no one at UNC expected to be run over with an SUV attack in 2006, and I’m sure no one thought that sending their children to high school in columbine would be a dangerous thing. And they’re right, these things aren’t dangerous, nor should we expect them to be. But sometimes life doesn’t would out the way things “ought” to, and we take precautions against that. I have a fire extinguisher in case my kitchen catches fire. I wear a seat belt and have air bags in case an accident occurs. I carry insurance to protect against various monetary and property losses. It seems only reasonable then that I should take steps to protect against personal loss as well.

  89. @SPQR

    >Very good advice, Ken. However, its only the enthusiast that is going to be able to
    >maintain that level of regular firing practice.

    Eh, realistically 50-100 rounds is about 1-2 hours at the range. I imagine that most people spend more than that amount of time watching TV each month. The real problem tends to be the cost, ammo is getting more expensive, and ranges (depending on your state and local competition) can range from free, open to the public to expensive members only affairs.

  90. Yes, tpmoney, however, while I’m not as active a shooter as I was in the past, when I competed and RO’d USPSA, still today I don’t maintain that level.

  91. My real point is that most people go to range shooting and just practice perfect stance, perfect grip, standing full upright, go sort of zen, and play “put a hole in the target” – which is good to a point. But if you’re doing self defense shooting practicing from the conditions you’re going to be shooting from in a bad situation is more useful than only having muscle memory that says “lead foot forward like so, lift gun in both hands, push and pull, squeeze the trigger” while standing straight up.

    I don’t know if it maps to firearms training, but a sword-training technique I’ve grown to like, a lot, is to have students take turns reciting poetry from memory as a performance while doing practice bouts or assembling combinations with their weapons. It both gives them a rhythm to work from and occupies the verbal part of the brain so that you can do the rest of the biomechanics without thinking about them.

  92. Ken, an interesting thought. However, when I teach hunter safety, and we are doing the live fire exercise on the range, if someone started reciting poetry I suspect my reaction would be to run … ;-)

  93. >You’ve saved nobody, in the best-case scenario you’ve only ensured that the gunman died. Big whoop.

    Then there’s no point calling 911 for the cops to come, because in the best-case scenario, the cops are just minutes away… when seconds count.

    This is at the root of the difference between how the Left thinks and how the rest of us think. They see everything in terms of “solutions”, and when it doesn’t fix EVERYTHING, it’s no good at all. We understand that in the real world there aren’t solutions; there are only trade-offs.

    The bad guy is going to kill some people in this scenario, even if there are several armed people in the theater. That can’t be prevented. But he won’t have time to shoot 50 people and kill a dozen of them before someone is in position to return fire.

  94. SPQR> Actually, the worst quality in political discourse is the liberal view that motivations trump over results/consequences.

    THIS!

    I believe I can prove with near-mathematical certainty that such thinking must lead to unintended consequences that would be considered “negative” by the advocates of the policy; who will not, however, acknowledge that such events are actually consequences of the policy.

    In fact, it would seem to warrant being named a Law of Nature or something. Interestingly, I’m not sure anyone has expressly formulated such a law, but a lot of people refer to one as if it had been.

  95. Ken, good question. Run from a knife, charge a gun… but none of my self-defense classes have ever covered what to do about a nutcase wielding Tennyson.

  96. >none of my self-defense classes have ever covered what to do about a nutcase wielding Tennyson.

    Recite some Vogon poetry back at him?

  97. “…that fails to take into account what actually happened.”

    Yet THREE separate individuals managed to identify the threat and place themselves between their loved ones and the incoming fire, saving others at the cost of their own lives.

    You would deny them even the CHANCE of defeating the threat they clearly recognized.

    That is not only wrong headed it is completely immoral.

  98. >Eric, I think the poetry trick might do you some good on your swordwork.

    Might do it as a drill hack during pell-work, but not when fighting. Don’t want to be distracted.

  99. Is it possible to legally purchase firearms and ammo without having the proper training?

    In most US states, yes. Getting a carry permit typically requires completion of a state-approved course of some kind (usually taught by the NRA), but in all but a handful of states (such as here in MA), you can buy a long gun for home defense without any training prerequisites.

  100. >Recite some Vogon poetry back at him?

    I’m pretty sure Vogon poetry is cruel and unusual punishment. Yeah, it ain’t Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex by a long shot, but still. Have a little mercy and just shoot the bastard.

  101. In your first case, the defender was a security guard, not some random civilian

    Point of order. Security guards are civilians. Police officers are civilians. Just like ‘random’ people on the street. This is an important point well worth remembering.

  102. Hi all,

    I just have a quick question: What are your, ESR and all the other gun owners, views on magazine size restrictions? I saw an article saying that there is a law change being put through at the moment that would allow people to have bigger magazines on their guns and that this shooting makes for an excellent time to lobby against it.
    Do you think this, bigger magazine size, is a good idea, a bad idea or do you think it would make no difference?

    Please note that I’m from New Zealand so I really don’t have any experience with guns outside of shooting a couple of hunting rifles. I’m just curious.

  103. >In most US states, yes. Getting a carry permit typically requires completion of a
    >state-approved course of some kind (usually taught by the NRA), but in all but a handful of
    >states (such as here in MA), you can buy a long gun for home defense without any
    >training prerequisites.

    Of course, for in home defense, there’s not a whole lot of “training” one needs beyond the manual, the 4 rules of firearm safety, and an hour at the range. It’s part of why guns are the weapon of choice for personal combat where they’re available. Unlike a sword, which requires many hours of training for even basic proficiency, most people 12 and older can and do learn to safely operate a gun in less than an hour. On the other hand, most people interested in buying a gun are also interested in learning to use it properly. The mindset of self defense tends to self select towards people who would seek the training they need, and those gun owners who didn’t start with that self defense mindset were usually introduced and trained to shooting long before they purchased their first gun.

  104. “…that fails to take into account what actually happened.”

    Yet THREE separate individuals managed to identify the threat and place themselves between their loved ones and the incoming fire, saving others at the cost of their own lives.

    You would deny them even the CHANCE of defeating the threat they clearly recognized.

    That is not only wrong headed it is completely immoral.

    Eh, what?

    Did you miss the part right before that where I said, “I wish that were the case”?

    I don’t recall stating anywhere in that post that I would deny a person the chance to defeat a threat they’ve clearly identified, nor do I recall implying such. Can you point out to me where I said that?

    The fact that three people identified the threat and took the bullet for their loved ones implies that they identified the threat after the shooter opened fire. Not before when he entered the theater with his weapons, presumably in costume. I can’t see how any person capable of thought would not have tried to exit the theater before the shooting started had they identified the shooter had a real rifle on his person, not just a costume prop.

    Believe me, I wish there had been a trained gun owner there who could have dropped the shooter. Less people would have had to die. But there wasn’t, and the situation wasn’t as simple as “a double tap to the head a few seconds after the psycho opened the door and raised his weapon”.

  105. If the Aurora shooter would have expected a significant amount of push-back from the audience, he surely would have changed tactics. A few grenades or a canister of gas would have had a similar or even worse effects without having to expose himself to a firefight.

    Insanity cannot be stopped at the outlet.

  106. >What are your, ESR and all the other gun owners, views on magazine size restrictions?

    I’m against them for the same reasons I’m opposed to all other restrictions.

    1. They will have little or no effect on criminals, who have demonstrated willingness to break the law, and will therefore mainly hinder law-abiding people trying to defend themselves.

    2. The experience of gun owners in the U.S. is that soi-disant “reasonable” measures like these are dishonestly advocated by people whose actual aim is prohibition and confiscation – they’ve adopted a salami-slicing srategy in which the inevitable failure of each little measure to achieve declared goals is used as a justification for the next restriction. Our response is not to consent to let that merry-go-round start spinning. Molon labe, motherfuckers…

    3. We would be failing in our duty if we consented to “reasonable” restrictions on firearms for exactly the same reasons we would be failing if we consented to “reasonable” restrictions on freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. Some liberties are too important to be allowed to the tender mercies of government even in the unusual case that governments are well-intentioned towards those liberties.

    Many of us were once less radicalized than this. Experience has taught us bitter lessons.

  107. Recite some Vogon poetry back at him?

    I don’t know if Paul Neil Milne Johnstone/Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings lives up to their reputation, but I do know that the poetry of William Topaz McGonagall is so bad it can peel wallpaper.

  108. … “your duty as an adult male human being”
    … “you’re merely a moral coward with a deficient grasp of your duty as a man”
    … “some of us have spent years training for these situations”
    … [plus random GDR/Warhammer-based strategy crap to kill the goblin]

    yes.. sure… You are right, Breivik… now calm down… the doctor is coming…

    +1 to Bennett

  109. More guns around = higher likelihood of a shooting. Unless you think it would work as a deterrent — it worked pleasantly with cold war. I, for one, would feel much safer knowing that only the occasional (rare) nutjob walks around armed, rather than anybody who wants to. As bad and sensless as these shootings are, they are like plane accidents vs car accidents.

  110. I certainly think it’s better for members of society to be allowed to carry weapons. When criminals and terrorists run loose, no extra harm can be done by a few right-thinking citizens with guns trying to even out the odds in a gun-fight. In fact, keeping the gunmen occupied and preventing them from going randomly at defenceless targets is certainly one benefit of a two way gun-fight.

    Unfortunately government thinks we are all babes-in-arms (no pun intended). How can be the police or military be everywhere to protect everyone? The 26/11 mumbai terror attacks proved really how vulnerable an unarmed society is in the face of half a dozen determined, armed attackers.

  111. Pingback: DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Gun-Free Fantasy Zones

  112. @esr [in your OP] -

    The usual round of inane honking about “common-sense gun control” ensued just as if this psycho (like most others) hadn’t cheerfully violated several laws well before he pulled the trigger.

    In all the reports I’ve read to date, I don’t see any clear indication of laws he violated before he pulled the trigger the first time (possibly excluding the “gun-free zone” regulation, which you all have thoroughly demolished). Could you please give a reference?

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit — how could we (the relatively sane majority) have “noticed” that this guy was functionally insane solely on the basis of his public activities before the event? I’m fully in agreement that weapons-control laws (max. qty. of ammo, magazine size restrictions, no Internet sales, yadda, yadda, yadda) would not have helped.

    What would have helped?

  113. A few comments on training:

    While getting a license to carry concealed frequently requires training, in most of the country there are no extra requirements before buying a handgun and I think in most of the exceptions there’s no live firing requirement. This makes sense if you think about it, an ideal path to concealed carry is: try out various handgun models and calibers at a range to see which fit you, buy one of those and practice at the range with it, then do what’s required for your carry license. If the latter includes live fire you’ll do all the better and (ideally) you won’t get rejected for unsafe gun handling, if not, you need that practice before you start carrying.

    Some people are overstating the limitations of range practice. As long as your range is built so that your bullets can hit the ground before the backstop (since standing up you’re going to aiming downwards a bit at the target’s torso area), you can do a fair amount at any normal range (some don’t let you practice drawing from your holster, but your dry firing practice at home can include that). Simulate tactical situations in your head, practice shooting one handed with both hands (in a lot of self-defense situations one hand is bound, the average distance of them is said to be 7.5 feet (sic)), get a friend to try to verbally distract you while shooting, practice quick magazine changes, etc.

    As indicated above, you can do quite a few things at home. Practice dry firing (Jeff Cooper suggests, per his Rule 2, “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.”, to use a TV as an aim point :-), get an pellet pistol that ideally closely matches your real model and shoot into an inexpensive pellet trap that had some thick plywood surrounding it, etc.

  114. I Found this at Vox Popoli: (http://voxday.blogspot.nl) “The International Crime Victims Survey, conducted by Leiden University in Holland, found that England and Wales ranked second overall in violent crime among industrialized nations. Twenty-six percent of English citizens — roughly one-quarter of the population — have been victimized by violent crime. Australia led the list with more than 30 percent of its population victimized. The United States didn’t even make the “top 10″ list of industrialized nations whose citizens were victimized by crime.”

  115. When you write “the jackals at the Brady Campaign”, it’s hard to take you very seriously. This is a very complex issue and while I generally support our right to keep and bear arms, the reality is that both sides think they’re working for everyone’s best interest. Call gun control supporters “misguided” or “naive” is something I could understand one saying (even though I don’t agree with that, either). But calling them “jackals” so completely mischaracterizes them that your obvious emotional involvement makes much much more likely to mistrust you.

    Further, hurling insults like that at a time when many people are grieving does you no favors.

  116. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit — how could we (the relatively sane majority) have “noticed” that this guy was functionally insane solely on the basis of his public activities before the event? I’m fully in agreement that weapons-control laws (max. qty. of ammo, magazine size restrictions, no Internet sales, yadda, yadda, yadda) would not have helped. What would have helped?

    This shooting, IMO, is one that needs to be written off under “the price of a free society”. The biggest red flag I’ve heard about him putting up prior to the shooting is that, apparently, he tried to join a local range last month but was denied membership after leaving some insane ramblings on the owner’s voicemail. But how can the police or the general public make that sort of information actionable without starting a witch hunt? I don’t think it can be done.

  117. John D. Bell:

    The coverage of this story will highlight how Holmes gave lots of “tells” before he went on his spree, that were all ignored. The reality is that Holmes, like the VA Tech shooter, and both Columbine shooters, and the German school shooter, was a fairly typical isolated guy with shyness, poor self esteem, few friends, and one or two social outlets.

    When you meet someone who’s quiet, doesn’t talk much and isn’t a joiner, the usual response is to leave them alone. In other words, there is no tell you’d see unless you knew him reasonably well, and if people could know him reasonably well, he wouldn’t be the hazard he is.

    The common pattern for these types of shooters is socially inept men who have toiled with trying to fit in, discovered that they can’t, and are looking to make a statement of “look what you made me do!”, usually after a setback, or continual bullying. It really parallels PTSD; it’s a realization that one is never going to fit the crazy rules society expects, no matter how hard one tries…and discovering that all the effort of trying (which is exhausting) was utterly and completely wasted.

    In the end, they want to make One Spectacular Gesture ™ – they’re playing out a movie in their heads, rehearsing the movie, and making sure that nothing will screw up that movie when the opportunity presents. This is, to get back on topic, why they seek out no firearms zones – their movie doesn’t include someone shooting back. They also want the fame and recognition – they want to be in the news…and the media gives a handy narrative they can fit their One Spectacular Gesture into.

    Ask yourself this – which has gotten more coverage? Holmes or his victims? Holmes does because of the desire of the media to portray this as “This is so unusual! Violence doesn’t happen to Nice People! It’s SHOCKING! Let us give you a guided tour of this crazy monster’s mind!” People watch out of macabre fascination, and because they want to identify the next one before it happens.

    It’s a lie. The kind of misfit who goes on a spree shooting is the kind who bottles up all that frustration, or if they let it seep out around the edges, it’s in very limited social circles. They avoid making friends. They avoid making interpersonal connections. They hide the fact that their efforts to fit in don’t work….and in doing so make the problems worse.

  118. There’s nothing more depressing to conceal permit holders than hearing that there wasn’t even a single soul in that theater that had the means to delay, distract, confuse or perhaps (even if by a miracle) stop the carnage. The fact that no one was armed means that there was never any chance that anyone could alter that night’s sequence of events. There is a sense of utter hopelessness that accompanies these sorts of events when none of the friendlies are armed. And that helplessness is one of the reasons why citizens choose to obtain their permits. It is the reason why they spend significant sums at pistol ranges. And yes, if I was armed in that theater, then I would have done things differently that I would not be able to do if I was not armed. Being armed changes things. Sometimes it may not change much at all. In this particular situation, I suspect one armed citizen would not much of a hope to do anything. But they might have! And the fact that there is no “might have” is what makes the deaths of the innocents even worse. We have systematically disarmed ourselves of the tools that can reduce the number of bad actors who do these things. It’s infuriating!

  119. If the worse thing that ESR says is ““the jackals at the Brady Campaign” then I think it fair to say that you are taking offense at the wrong side. Go read the virtiol that the Brady Campaign spews forth. Then you decide who is more reprehensible.

  120. > Go read the virtiol that the Brady Campaign spews forth. Then you decide who is more reprehensible.

    [citation needed]

    I’ve glanced through their Web site and I don’t see this vitriol. I’m not saying it’s not there, but if you have substantive examples of “vitriol”, please share them.

  121. Curtis Poe, the people at the Brady Campaign/VPC can rightly be called jackals. They have a long history of dishonesty and of exploitation.

    What I can’t take seriously is anyone who takes the Brady Campaign seriously.

  122. Ken Burnside: “and are looking to make a statement of “look what you made me do!”, usually after a setback

    This excellent Wall Street Journal article (well, except for saying the AR-15 “is known for its reliability”, something I emailed the authors about, which one said they’d fix), states that:

    When classes ended in May, the students were required to pass a first-year test referred to as the “prelims.” The school said students had to stand before three professors and answer questions.

    Shortly after the tests were done, the classmate said, a neuroscience administrator took the group for drinks to tell them Mr. Holmes had dropped out. The administrator said she received a short resignation email from Mr. Holmes that didn’t explain why. Some assumed he had gone back to California.

    Mr. Holmes hadn’t been on campus since June, though his program-cancellation paperwork remains unfinished, according to a university spokesman.

    About the time he applied to leave the university, Mr. Holmes began buying thousands of rounds of ammunition….

    Prelims are notoriously hard; the university has had to refuse to comment on his academic performance (the Federal laws on this are quite strict), but in some what it would appear that his orals were a breaking point for him.

  123. So, I’m here saying “I support the second amendment right to bear arms”, but I point out that insulting those we disagree with doesn’t do anyone any good. The response is people telling me that the Brady Campaign *is* a bunch of jackals, but no one can be bothered to provide evidence that this is true. I *have* hit Google and I hit the Brady campaign Web site.

    Since everyone seems content to tell me how bad and evil the Brady folks are, without offering evidence (and remember that anecdotes are nice, but not evidence) and are telling me to just “Google for goodness sake”, could you at least throw me a bone and suggest good Google search terms? I confess that I didn’t search for “jackal-like behavior by the Brady campaign”, but a few other cursory searches turned up little.

    So here’s my confession: though I support our right to keep and bear arms, I don’t live in the US any more and this issue doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to (since it’s no longer particularly relevant to my situation). Thus, I’m more or less like the masses in regard to this one issue: if you want to convince (which I assume some do as you’re responding with further unverified assertions), then you have to at least offer a shred of evidence rather than dismissively say “google for it”.

    So, to summarize: ESR calls people he disagrees with “Jackals” without offering evidence that this appellation is correct. I point out that such a loaded term (particularly in light of what’s happened) can be alienating and needs evidence, and people respond by assuring me that ESR is correct, but fail to provide evidence.

  124. @esr:

    It’s a duty that was well and generally understood until about a century ago.

    This is an interesting claim. What’s your evidence for such a dividing line, and what do you think precipitated it?

  125. This is an interesting claim. What’s your evidence for such a dividing line, and what do you think precipitated it?

    I’m very curious to hear what Eric had in mind in this regard, but I’ve always been particularly struck by the casual treatment of both drugs and firearms in the Sherlock Holmes stories, especially contrasted with current British weapons policies (e.g., homeowners’ receiving multi-year prison terms for resisting armed burglars with kitchen knives). I strongly suspect that the change from expecting individuals to defend themselves and others to dependence on “the professionals” was seeded by the mindset first engendered by Bismarck’s welfare policies and then dramatically accelerated (in the West) by the unabashed Pollyannas following World War I.

  126. As for magazine capacity, first of all the very idea that the eleventh or the twenty-first round in a magazine suddenly has some sort of extra malevolence or danger than the preceding rounds is silly. Secondly, magazines can be changed. Two twenty round magazines are the same as a forty round magazine, so “banning” a forty round magazine is silly. Thirdly, magazines are mass produced, inexpensive items. During the Federal ban on larger capacity magazines, no one who wanted a magazine was unable to find one – legally or illegally – because millions existed. Legal ones just went up in price a bit during that period. I never saw a prosecution for an illegal magazine and don’t think one could ever really be made.

    In this case, the rhetoric about the 100 round magazine that Holmes allegedly had is backwards. The magazine failed. It jammed. He seems to have had to dump it in the theater and shift to a pistol. Hardly the great destructive device its made out to be.

  127. Brady Campaign lies continuously. Their most common lie is to intentionally conflate fully automatic firearms with semi-automatic ones that are legal to sell to civilians in the US without special license. That’s the whole purpose of the faux label “assault weapons”, the conflation of fully automatic firearms with semi-automatic ones. They’ve used video of fully automatic versions of M16′s and falsely claimed that they were civilian legal AR15s.

    They’ve lied repeatedly in the wake of the Zimmerman/Martin case about the “Stand Your Ground” laws, making objectively false claims that such laws endorsed killing people without cause.

    In a video ad last year, in their campaign against large capacity magazines, the Brady Campaign portrays a gun owner at a target range shooting at a target silhouette of a young girl. The image is not depicting a criminal, its intentionally portraying an ordinary gun owner as interested in shooting little children.

    Clayton Cramer recently analysed a list of of incidents supposedly representing the number of people killed by concealed carry permit carriers. Nearly half of the number that Brady/VPC claimed included suicides by concealed carry permit holders.

    Here’s the paper on SSM: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2095754

    Brady Campaign are jackals, they do not act in good faith and they lie continuously.

  128. SPQR: The AP has reported the rifle jammed, but if you look at the pictures in this article you’ll see it just outside an outside door, with a normal capacity 30 round magazine in it.

    We (those outside the investigation) don’t really know what happened (and in one eyewitness report I’ve read he started with his shotgun and then switched to the rifle); based on e.g. his failure to join the rifle range (the owner of which was turned off by his answering machine message), for now I’m going on the assumption that if the AP report is correct, he never learned how to clear a jam.

  129. >This is an interesting claim. What’s your evidence for such a dividing line, and what do you think precipitated it?

    Period literature; someone else has pointed at the Sherlock Holmes stories, and they’re as good an example as any. It us worth bearing in mind that in Holmes’s day professional police forces were a relatively new idea, the hue-and-cry of armed citizens was still a widely accepted response to overt criminal acts, and gentlemen routinely owned and carried personal weapons.

    I think the dividing line was WWI. Nineteenth-century ideas of manliness and patriotism were discredited by the fact that they led millions of men to be pointlessly slaughtered. And that was in many ways appropriate – but we lost some good along with the bad, and one of the losses was the notion that the scope of a man’s duty to defend included public spaces in peacetime.

  130. >I’ve glanced through their Web site and I don’t see this vitriol. I’m not saying it’s not there, but if you have substantive examples of “vitriol”, please share them.

    This is me being fair. I loathe the Brady campaign, but in general they’re too smart to use vitriol. Their normal register is pained reasonableness. It takes some digging to discover the massive extent of the lies and distortions behind it.

  131. Harold, the reporting is going to be contradictory, not least if Brian Ross is involved, so it would not surprise me if the 100 round magazine report turns out to be false.

  132. >But calling them “jackals” so completely mischaracterizes them that your obvious emotional involvement makes much much more likely to mistrust you.

    I call them “jackals” because of their ghoulish eagerness to instantly, emotionally exploit every firearms-related tragedy. I plan to continue doing so.

  133. I was one of Clayton’s research “minions” and can attest to the wretched quality of the VPC “Concealed Carry Killers” paper. Of the incidents I researched some simply didn’t belong (e.g. one due to an accidentally dropped handgun of military design and PRC manufacture that was found to be mechanically defective, no criminal intent or charges), others didn’t have concealed carry licenses to begin with (!), in one, the “killer” fired no rounds at all (idiotic college horseplay where airsoft guns were switched with real ones, the “killer” handed a friend with no experience his real gun), etc.

    The errors and misrepresentations were so egregious that lying “jackals” is not an exaggeration.

  134. >Could you please give a reference?

    Damn, I lost it. There was a news story pointing out that Holmes violated at least two Colorado laws on the handling of weapons in transit before he even got to the theater. I would also be quite surprised if rigging explosive booby traps in his apartment weren’t illegal in Colorado, it is in most states – google for “spring-gun cases” for the relevant law.

    >What would have helped?

    Armed citizens.

    Apparently the only real clue anyone had that he was going of the rails was the recorded message on his answering machine. He applied for membership at a local gun range but was turned down because, as a range officer reported, the message was “weird and incoherent”.

  135. Poe, I could assemble scores of pages of examples of the Brady Campaign/VPC intentionally lying without any trouble. They are not honest, they do not operate in good faith.

    One last to amuse, the Brady Campaign put out a pamphlet about gun violence and sports that listed Plaxico Buress as a “victim” of gun violence. He shot himself in the ass with his own gun, wearing it stuck in his pants w/o a holster, and was charged with violating New York’s Sullivan laws for its possession.

  136. While we’re shredding the “high-capacity magazines are eeeeevil” meme, I would also like to suggest that interested persons find out what “combat reload” means. It’s easily possible for a trained shooter to swap magazines in less than a second if he doesn’t care about getting the old one back.

  137. @esr

    I accept the right of property owners to ban my weapons when and only when they take full responsibility for defending my life and exhibit the competence and resources to do it.

    Or you could stay off my lawn or movie theater or whatever. I agree with Skeptical Enlightenment. If you don’t like my rules for my property you are welcome to not enter my property however dumb those rules are.

    @esr and others

    Self-motivated civilian shooters routinely train to a higher level than cops, because bullets and range time are expensive.

    Bullshit. I know (well, these days knew, it’s been a while) quite a few dumbfucks with guns. There sure as hell do not routinely train to a higher standard than law enforcement.

    The gun owning population is like any other. The dumbfucks outnumber the self described “self-motivated” folks by a huge ratio. If you’ve been around guns a long time and do not have a few dumbfuck with a gun stories…well like the saying goes…the odds are very high that you are the dumbfuck.

    And there’s also a huge difference in the number of well trained gun owners that safely hunts or shoots for fun and the number of folks that are currently proficient at shooting people in a stressful situation.

    @ken

    It takes about … 40 hours of training to get decent stress innoculation so that you can think while the shit is flying, make tactical assessments and move effectively.

    You are kidding right? This is where I stop taking anything you say seriously. 40 hours of actually getting shot at in combat generally appears to be insufficient “stress inoculation” for the average soldier to learn to think, make tactical assessments and move effectively “while the shit is flying”. And that’s with a lot more than 40 hours of physical and mental preparation/training beforehand so you hopefully have something to fall back on.

    While that may not be not true for the exceptional 10% of soldiers that do 90% of the killing sort of thing most folks aren’t wired that way. Even soldiers in a combat zone. Much less us civilian folk.

    “Note: Research has determined that, on average, only three out of ten people actually fire their weapons when confronted by an enemy during room clearing operations. Close quarters combat success for the Ranger begins with the Ranger being psychologically prepared for the close quarter’s battle.”

    SH 21-76 US Army Ranger Handbook July 2006, pg 14-3

    http://www.africom.mil/WO-NCO/DownloadCenter/%5C40Publications/Ranger%20Handbook.pdf

    Me, until I know otherwise, I assume I’m going to be one of those 7-9 out of 10 people hunkered down pissing my pants or running around uselessly when the shit hits the fan regardless of whether or not I am armed. I’ll leave internet braggadocio to you two gents.

    The only lesson I draw from this event is that if I wanted any LE type gear or bulk ammo I should have bought it last week. Prices, if they haven’t already, are going to skyrocket again.

  138. @patrioticduo

    Google for goodness sake.

    Can’t. They removed all firearms and accessories from Google Market Search…

  139. And that was in many ways appropriate – but we lost some good along with the bad, and one of the losses was the notion that the scope of a man’s duty to defend included public spaces in peacetime.

    I don’t know how much good we lost, as the nations that most internalized the “violence is bad” memes learned from two world wars’ experience — much of Western Europe and Japan — are among the safest places in the world to live today.

  140. Jeff Read: They’re also dead, as in reproducing far below replacement rate. E.g. there will be no Japanese by the end of the next century if the current trend continues (and recovery from this I am told is unknown in history), and that’s not accounting for their living in a tough neighborhood.

    A loss which ends your society is a total loss in my book, however pleasant some of the declining years may be.

  141. Nigel: There’s an Internet market in gun-grabbing vitriol?

    Wow, the technical vastness of this Future is a lot vaster than I realized.

    Apropos of nothing at all, I never cease to be amazed by people who project their own perceived incapability onto others, certain in their knowledge that if they think they can’t do X, others can’t.

    While I don’t and hope I never know what I’ll do in a self-defense situation, I’m heartened by how well so many civilians do in real life, and I’m certain that I’ll get father with a positive attitude and a gun than a negative attitude alone.

  142. On a sort-of related note, my employer (large company with headquarters based out of California) has a US-wide no guns policy. Of late, I actually have some people that I can talk to and perhaps change their minds on this issue. I’d love advice on how to do this. From talking with them initially, it seems like there are a few key issues which need to be addressed:
    * From a legal perspective, the Company must take reasonable steps to provide a safe work environment. Banning weapons/firearms is a “reasonable step”.
    * It is industry standard practice. If you do what everybody else does, you can’t be held liable.
    * Your odds of being killed in an office workplace (act of violence or shooting – I can’t remember which) are about 1 in 20,000,000. (Their stats).
    * Lots of people might not want to work here if there were people with guns present.

    Any idea on how to reasonably address these? We can’t even have guns locked up/secured in our cars on company property.

  143. I am very curious to hear stories where attacks by fully, combat armed, attackers were foiled due to innocent bystanders armed with handguns.

    Afghanistani are armed to the teeth, and still armed attackers are time and again able to stand their territory for hours.

  144. Garrett, if I were you I would focus my talking points on the parking lot issue. Point out that by prohibiting employees from keeping guns secured in their cars, they’re for all practical purposes keeping them disarmed all day, not just while they’re at work. Even if the workplace itself is exceedingly safe, some employees’ commute and home neighborhood may not be — you can pull the “discrimination against the less well-off” card here — so they risk they’re actually exposing you to is much greater than the 1-in-20-million that they cite. Furthermore, the idea that allowing employees to keep legally-owned guns locked and secured in their own cars is somehow failing in their responsibility to provide a safe workplace is simply not sane, and not even the loopiest California judge is going to rule otherwise.

  145. They’re also dead, as in reproducing far below replacement rate.

    So is America, except for Hispanic immigrants.

  146. Jeff Read: According to my recent readings of works by David “Spengler” Goldman it’s not hardly that bad. Although the demographic data in his two recent books necessarily does not reach far into the Great Recession, and I wonder how that’s going to change things.

  147. @harold

    Please. I’m all for positive thinking but positive thinking braggadocio is still braggadocio. It’s easy to be an internet badass.

    For which my response normally is: “How many combat drops?”

    Plus nobody serious claims 40 hours of training to be sufficient for combat anything much less making “tactical assessment” or “moving effectively” (except perhaps in the retrograde direction at high speed). Anyone that claims this pegs my bullshit meter and indicates to me that I have no desire whatsoever to be in his line of fire when things go bad…assuming he manage to draw his weapon in the first place.

    I have a reasonable expectation that 10% or so of the untrained or semi-trained population will react in some kind of useful manner in a stressful situation. If I am lucky I might be in that 10%. With training I might up that a bit but keeping in mind that the military, who’s job it is to produce combat effective soldiers out of testosterone laden young guys, acknowledges that a fair number of these trained individuals will not effectively engage the enemy in combat situations.

    I actually know a few real life badasses (ex-SOF). They don’t talk much shit (to civs anyway). I’ve met more than a few EOD guys. Those guys have big brass ones…and they don’t talk much shit either.

    So excuse me if I don’t show proper deference to internet badassery.

  148. This is where successfully distinguishing between two different tactical situations counts.

    The PA soccer field defense took place at 2:30 in the afternoon. This was a daylight attack during a time of high visibility. The ground was flat (it was a soccer field) with some cover if there was any kind of stadium style seating. In such a situation defenders have a good field of fire and an excellent chance of taking down one of the attackers without hurting someone else. The defenders would also be obvious to the attackers in these conditions, which means the defending gunmen would have a deterrent effect on the attackers. (In real life the attackers retreated.)

    Under the circumstances which held at the PA soccer field, I’d be happy to have a an armed person nearby shooting back at the attackers.

    On the other hand, the Aurora attack took place in a dark room full of costumed people, after the attacker threw tear gas cannisters into the crowd. There’s not much flat ground – it’s all very crowded seating with limited room between the seats, and each of those seats are full, with a crowd density that’s an order of magnitude higher than on the soccer field. Defenders would not be obvious to the attacker, at least until they fired (and the attacker appears to have been an inexperienced gunman, who might or might not have understood the meaning of the muzzle flashes) and there would thus be no cause for the attacker to retreat. Someone with a gun attempting to stand their ground would probably get run down by fleeing members of the crowd, and attempting to draw while on the floor between two rows of theater seats isn’t something I’d like to try, not to mention the potential for the defending gunman getting trampled. The defending gunman would also be blocking the ability of others to retreat from the threat. The chances of a defending gunman hitting an innocent bystander are much, much higher (lots of weird-looking costumed people.) In this circumstance a defending gunman is likely to add to the chaos, not cure it, and his/her chances of getting a good shot off are minuscule.

    Under the circumstances at the Aurora theater I’d prefer that a defender not attempt to fire back.

  149. “Apparently the only real clue anyone had that he was going of the rails was the recorded message on his answering machine. He applied for membership at a local gun range but was turned down because, as a range officer reported, the message was “weird and incoherent”.”

    This is actually interesting. Had he been required to obtain proper gun training before being able to purchase weaponry, could he have been spotted?
    I know that merely the concept of the DMV is offensive to the libertarian sensibilities around here but we’ve established that proper training would’ve been crucial for an armed citizen to stop this guy. Guns are not talismans.

  150. The chances of a defending gunman hitting an innocent bystander are much, much higher (lots of weird-looking costumed people.)

    To quote the beginning of an apropos comment in The Volokh Conspiracy discussion by an “absaroka”:

    FWIW, a few years ago I was present for a discussion where the local police dept. firearms trainers were discussing an incident where a guy with an AK-47 started shooting in a local mall. Another listening civilian asked ‘but how can you be sure who the bad guy is?’. Following a certain amount of eye rolling, the response was along the lines of ‘the guy with a rifle who is shooting unarmed fleeing people is the bad guy; people shooting at him are the good guys’.

    In this case, the shooter would be self-identifying by the muzzle flashes from whichever weapon he was using.

    Far too many of these “an armed citizen couldn’t have helped” arguments depend on the citizen grossly violating Rule 4. While it’s certainly possible, experience has shown civilians are generally responsible about observing it in self-defense situations.

    And that’s without even getting into the tradeoffs of taking a small chance of hitting a bystander vs. ending the shooting a lot sooner, overall decreasing the number of casualties.

  151. >Had he been required to obtain proper gun training before being able to purchase weaponry, could he have been spotted?

    Doubtful. He was pretty good at passing for normal – the adjectives that kept coming up were “quiet” and “studious”.

  152. >Under the circumstances at the Aurora theater I’d prefer that a defender not attempt to fire back.

    It is possible that an armed person at the scene might have made that judgment. So what? You weren’t there.

    The point of the argument I and others have been making in that the “gun-free” policy prevented an effective defense from being even possible. That is horribly wrong, and the people who made that policy are implicated in the deaths.

  153. Nigel: The 40 hours is a median for stress inoculation. Without stress inoculation, unless you’re naturally “wired” for aggression, odds say you’re likely to be in the 70-80% that grab the floor and heave.

    The source for 40 hours of stress inoculation comes from LAPD and FBI field agent training guides, and it’s something that generally (like marksmanship) needs periodic refreshes. I have no idea what the military guidelines are, but the entirety of Basic Training is stress inoculation.
    Stress inoculation something good martial arts instructors teach (and good martial arts instructors largely detest “tournament” sparring for points). It is harder to find it in the shooting community; IPSA seems to come closest short of doing room clearing drills with live ammo, and it’s not the same.

    I’m with you in saying that target shooting ain’t the same as shooting in a combat environment. Not even remotely.

    Most training does not include the following:

    1) Tac Awareness. (Some does, not all)
    2) How To Shoot From Bad Posture (Hardly anyone teaches this or has a range set up to practice it)
    3) Stress Inoculation (Hardly anyone trains for this.)

  154. Winter, Afghani tribesman do not react as schizophrenic attention-seeking mass murderers do. That’s the bottom line.

    Five years ago, a schizophrenic decided to attack members at a church service in the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. A woman member of that church had agreed to volunteer to act as security, and see reacted quickly upon hearing the sounds of gunfire. She confronted the shooter, put effective fire upon him and wounded him. The shooter then shot himself.

    Holmes himself quickly folded up when confronted by police. These kinds of shooters stop quickly when confronted with resistance. Why, I could not tell you other than its my belief that their fantasies don’t include their victims fighting back.

    Afghani tribesman don’t have the same motivations, and actually have more training than you’d imagine in their style of warfare. Its not an accurate comparison.

  155. … but we’ve established that proper training would’ve been crucial for an armed citizen to stop this guy.

    We’ve “established” no such thing. While I’m a big advocate of training and practice, even relatively untrained armed citizen’s can do better than you think.

  156. The point of the argument I and others have been making in that the “gun-free” policy prevented an effective defense from being even possible. That is horribly wrong, and the people who made that policy are implicated in the deaths.

    I’ve got no objection to well-trained people carrying, and there are multiple examples of this being a good idea. However, given this particular situation the “If I’d been there things would have been different” kind of fantasizing gets old real fast. Realistic consideration of the actual conditions of this specific shooting says it would not actually have changed much.

    And that’s the real problem. Every time one of these malicious gunmen cuts loose it is a separate and different event with different issues of terrain, cover, crowding, tactics, etc., Each event needs to be evaluated separately, and not ideologically. Sometimes a defending gunman would have helped, sometimes not.

    In this particular instance, someone who wanted to save a human life would probably have done best to tackle somebody and lay down on top of them.

  157. [...] but we’ve established that proper training would’ve been crucial for an armed citizen to stop this guy. Guns are not talismans.

    While I agree 100% with the closing sentence, and it’s a very important principle, I don’t think we’ve even vaguely established the former concept, unless you mean the minimal training anyone in theory needs to successfully use a gun in self-defense. That turns out not to be the case in many short range to contact incidents, one of the latter involving a toddler (!), but we’re pretty much agreed that’s unlikely in this situation, absent e.g. successfully playing dead and the shooter getting close to you.

    So if you mean more than “basic training” I’d disagree, simply because so many people with minimal training have responsibly and successfully used their guns in self-defense. In a difficult scenario like this one, it would likely make a big difference, but this is so situation specific (e.g. where are you when it starts) that we just can’t say.

    All we can say is that the theater banned guns (though with no force of law besides ejecting you), the city banned concealed carry (maybe preempted by state law, but who wants to be the test case?), the demographics were a poor overlap for concealed carry licenses (minimum age of 21), no one appears to have been carrying and no one is know to have fought back (something we’re again not in a position to judge).

    If you do mean what I’m calling “basic training”, as perhaps indicated by your DMV reference, that’s off the table simply because it’s been abused too heavily. E.g. I’m thinking of a bit from a TV show a long time ago where a black in the South was scored as failing a literacy test no matter how well he read a passage from … the Bible? And of course, ignoring efforts to stamp out dueling, America’s history of unconscionable gun control stated with keeping blacks unarmed, something we’re still eradicating the last traces of (e.g. North Carolina’s permit to purchase a handgun; Missouri got rid of its only a few years ago).

    Or take Aurora; are we to deny the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to people who are “weird”? Allow gun clubs to be the gatekeepers to this this fundamental, enumerated Constitution right? That level of prior restraint without a demonstrated convincing need is anathema. Let me compare to driver’s licenses, where every bit of driving is more dangerous than simply carrying a handgun around or simply leaving it in a drawer: just last night or so a teenager who’d gotten his driver’s licence a few days ago managed some amazing maneuvering that ending up going right between two posts in the fence around my mother’s home. There are valid public safety arguments for this sort of licensing, which requires training.

    We (gun owners and activists) minimally tolerate it for concealed carry licenses, but in most cases they’re being done in states that have demonstrated sufficient good will so it’s not a big issue. But for mere possession it’s beyond the pale, especially since as I’ve noted so many have done so well with so little training, generally in their homes.

  158. I never obey any non-legislative firearm prohibitions. I can’t be arrested, only asked to leave…which I would. This isn’t an issue, however, as I carry *concealed*. Nobody knows, nobody is concerned, I go about my business – shopping, eating, watching the movie etc – and then leave in peace having caused not so much as a single hoplophobic neuron jangling in fear. Of course, I try to find respectful establishments that do not prohibit my lawful carry – and I make a point of telling the disrespectful establishments how much business they lose. Sometimes, circumstances make this choice impractical, so I ignore the signs and carry as I please.

    There are a few times when I ignore legislative prohibitions, but the risk of being caught has to be very low, as does the potential penalty. I do not wish to forfeit my family’s future needlessly. Mostly (99%) I simply do not go anywhere I am legislatively prohibited from carrying.

    I do not respect anything or anyone that does not respect my right to preserve [my] innocent life.

    As far as this Colorado shooting is concerned, I have to say that I think it would have been a very difficult situation to resolve. He was clearly prepared for armed resistance, and determined in his delivery of fire. However, bullets don’t just ping off body armor like the Hollywood dumbasses portray. Getting hit hurts like hell, can break bones and cause internal injuries. A few center-mass hits can knock the wind out of a persons sails long enough to get a more solid hit in the neck/face/head. Even so…in the dark, with smoke/gas….that’s a tough situation.

  159. @harold seeing as how I’ve seen citizens violate rule 1 and 2 at ranges and shops the dependence on rule 4 being followed in a stressful situation strikes me as “yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen a lot”.

  160. ESR said: >Do you have any evidence to suggest otherwise?

    Sure. The Aurora shooting is itself evidence.

    No, not quite. It’s not evidence that he picked the theater for that reason. Remember his Joker obsession? It’s not evidence for your theory, it’s simply not evidence against it.

    Evidence for your theory (which is plausible) will have to await statistical analysis of a large set of incidents or, perhaps, revelatory writings from the diaries of perpetrators.

    (Contra people suggesting that banning guns would somehow “stop” mass killings… a guy who’s rational enough – despite being insane at the moral level – to plan tear gas grenades and a gas mask and body armor, is equally rational enough to jam the doors, kill the ventilation, and set off a chlorine bomb*.

    Adn actually, that’s far more “Joker-like”, to take this guy’s little obsession – perhaps we’re lucky he decided a rifle and shotgun and a pair of pistols were a better idea; a chemical warfare attack could have killed many more people.

    * That’s just the first alternative that came to mind; a clever person can probably think of dozens of ways to kill a bunch of people without firearms.

    The problem of evil is not that there exist weapons; it’s that there are people that want to murder.)

  161. Harold wrote: ” … the city banned concealed carry (maybe preempted by state law, but who wants to be the test case?) …

    I can’t figure out where in all the myriad of incompetent news reporting out there the idea came about that Aurora city banned concealed carry, but this is utterly false. Colorado law overrides any such municipal ordinance since the adoption of shall issue, and prior to that during the discretionary permit timeframe, Aurora city issued very few permits, and no longer issues any because that’s a county sheriff function but permits issued by other jurisdictions were completely valid. There is Colorado Supreme Court precedent regarding the effects of state law preemption in this topic.

  162. Sigivald, sadly we have past history that an arson would actually have resulted in a far worse death toll. And the Columbine incident over a decade ago, the perpetrators initially intended to set bombs at their school, fortunately they were unsuccessful in getting them to detonate but if they had, and my understanding was that they were close, the toll in lives would have been an order of magnitude greater.

  163. @ken Mkay, I can buy 40 hours minimum in that context on top of everything else that the LAPD and FBI provide along with the limited shelf life. The number of actual civs that do this sufficiently to retain proficiency outside of active law enforcement strike me as exceedingly small. It also doesn’t sound cheap or readily available.

    Given that I’m in the point sparring and recreational shooting crowd the probability of me reacting usefully is still in that 20-30% range. I don’t think I’m lacking in positive attitude as much as hoping that I’m not still engaging in wishful thinking when trying to make sensible self/home defense plans.

    Some folks boast about practicing “clearing their house”. I’m hoping to just manage to get all the kids into the master bedroom without me doing something stupid in the process. Until that happens my assessment is that my house is indefensible unless I was willing to risk shooting one of them.

  164. Some folks boast about practicing “clearing their house”. I’m hoping to just manage to get all the kids into the master bedroom without me doing something stupid in the process.

    You’re doing it right. If your house isn’t defensible (the norm), find some part of it that is and practice getting yourself and your loved ones there as quickly and safely as possible. Standard room-clearing tactics call for working in pairs, and even if you have a partner on hand and you’re both properly trained for that, it’s the wrong percentage play. Leave that shit to the cops.

  165. > Silly man thinks SWAT gear makes you invincible:

    we all understand that he’s wrong, and over-the-top, but body armor does give the wearer a decided advantage in a firefight.

    The rifle was another advantage.

    Trying to fight a guy with a rifle when you’re armed with a .40 is an open area (the movie theatre) is an exercise in stupidity.

    Sure, you, Eric and I can all make shots at 25 yards at the range, but under combat conditions, when someone is firing back?

    No, anyone in that theatre who was armed was already out-gunned. The body armer was an effective force-multiplier.

  166. Daniel Franke: “Leave that shit to the cops.

    Well, yes … if you’re sufficiently sure there is an intruder in the house. But you can’t call the cops every time you hear a noise in the night, plus that violates the “Don’t talk to the cops” [unless it's absolutely necessary] rule. So I find it worthwhile to learn how to “clear” my “house”; not so much clear it as determine if there is an intruder, upon which I’ll take appropriate defensive oriented action, especially since the Missouri state judiciary has nullified our Castle Doctrine (it’s bizarre, you can use lethal force while someone is in the process of breaking in, but once they’re in it reverts to the norm).

  167. > You are kidding right?

    Restated: Gunsight is not combat. (And yes, I’ve been to Gunsight, three times.) Given that Gunsight is not combat, your time at the range shooting paper silhouettes isn’t anywhere near combat, and you are a dumb-ass if you think differently.

    Go look at the 1986 FBI incident in Miami. Despite outnumbering the suspects 4:1, the FBI agents found themselves pinned down by rifle fire and unable to respond effectively.

    Go look at the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, when the perps were wearing body armor and carrying rifles.

  168. @Patrick Maupin: I think your reading of the first of those two articles is a little bit uncharitable. I’ll grant that it would be improved by at least some acknowledgement of EvPsych, but I don’t see her saying anything that’s incompatible with it, and the word “machismo” isn’t in there.

  169. “For myself, from now on I plan to willfully violate every “gun-free zone” policy I run across. If enough sane people do likewise, perhaps the next massacre can be prevented.”

    So the only way to prevent gun violence is for everybody to carry a gun?

    Genius.

  170. Nigel: It can be cheap, but it’s not readily available. All it really takes is being willing to practice your shooting/combat skills in an environment where someone can hit you, yell at you, or come out at you from an angle you’re not expecting. The problem is that this isn’t, for most people, even remotely enjoyable. So it gets put off.

  171. ” I don’t think we’ve even vaguely established the former concept, unless you mean the minimal training anyone in theory needs to successfully use a gun in self-defense.”

    Even minimal training is not necessary to buy weapons in some places, as stated up-thread.

    “Allow gun clubs to be the gatekeepers to this this fundamental, enumerated Constitution right?”

    We do a similar thing for cars (Licensing, Training, Liability Insurance, etc) and have been able to not turn into a stalinist hellhole. The point would not be to prevent a goblin from rampaging (though i did suggest that might be made more a bit more likely, if incidentally) but to increase the chances of any “sheepdogs” that may be around. Given that such training is already considered “best practices” by the armed citizenry, I submit that it wouldn’t be an affront to their liberty.

    ” There are valid public safety arguments for this sort of licensing, which requires training. ”

    That’s all i’m saying.

  172. The problem isn’t that nobody had a weapon with them (*if* indeed nobody had). The problem isn’t that people were defenseless in there.

    I live in a country of several dozen millions where I suppose less people get shot per year than in, say, New York City. Heck, I suppose in the whole of Western Europe less people are shot than in the average US state, and I suppose that there’s less fire arms in all of western Europe’s cinemas than in American preachers’ homes. The reason for that is quite simple: (1) It’s hard to get guns. (2) Nobody considers it necessary that they should carry weapons.

    In contrast, the US had had comparatively liberal gun laws forever, strong resentments against banning guns, and a comparatively strong public opinion that it is essential that every citizen should be allowed to carry guns — *and this is what comes out of this* again and again. Most of the rest of the (western) world isn’t half as liberal about guns as the US, in those countries nobody considers it vital that they should be allowed to carry guns — and their rate of death by shootings is at a fraction of that of the US. You can argue and debate all you want, but there is a undeniably strong correlation between these two facts and the number of people shot per year.

    So to conclude: The problem is (1) that the guy could walk into a store and buy dangerous weapons (or order them online or however he got them), and (2) that the US is a country where carrying weapons (and, thus, *using* weapons, because there would be no point in carrying weapons if you weren’t prepared to employ them) is considered to be so essential. Arguing that more weapons would solve the problem of weapons getting in the hands of idiots just makes the rest of the world shake their heads more vigorously about you.

  173. >Heck, I suppose in the whole of Western Europe less people are shot than in the average US state,

    You’re wrong by an order of magnitude. You should research the actual statistics rather than ignorantly repeating crude anti-American stereotypes.

  174. >So the only way to prevent gun violence is for everybody to carry a gun?

    The areas of the U.S. with higher levels of civilian carry have lower levels not just of criminal gun violence but of other sorts of criminal violence as well. So…yes, exactly.

  175. I think the dividing line was WWI.

    As I understand it, the major reason for civilian disarmament in the 1920s was fear of bolshevism.

  176. It appears that James Holmes’ mother was not at all surprised. Clayton Cramer wrote

    “He’s 24. He engaged in an apparently irrational mass murder against strangers using carefully thought out methods. His mother thinks he is “the right person.” What do you think the chances are that he is mentally ill, and that this has been apparent for some time, but because we don’t do anything about this.”

    Cramer is a Second Amendment activist, who is also very concerned about our society’s failure to deal with the mentally ill, and in particular with legal obstacles that have been created. He has tragic family experience with this; see his book My Brother Ron.

  177. I do despair at the ‘Stockholm’ mentality of foreigners. They deride our 2nd Amendment, and heap praise upon their ‘far more civilized’ lands…where if you actually consider sufficient land mass/population of continental Europe to perform a valid statistical comparison to the continental US, you see the violent crime rate (not just guns) is higher.

    They speak of people being “allowed” to carry guns. This betrays their subservient mentality. They live under systems of rule where their masters have dictated that their subjects are not allowed to own/carry guns. We live by a principle (under constant siege from fascists, sadly) whereby no free man requires the permission of another to exercise his liberty to, among many other things, possess firearm technology. Nobody “allows” me to carry a gun….I freely decide to do so all by myself.

    You foreigners have no such choice. Your superior masters have decided your fate for you. Keep kissing your chains.

    The US does not have a ‘gun problem’…..we have a thug culture problem….and it is notably present in a bunch of anti-gun hotspots. Control for such things, and you see how remarkably safe the US is compared to the rest of the world. Sadly, we do compound our troubles by *allowing* sociopathic cretins to continue subjecting innocent people to ‘gun control’ and ‘gun free zones’.

  178. who: Driving a car is not a “fundamental, enumerated Constitutional right”, and there’s reasons the RKBA is one of those. (Travel should be as well, and that’s getting sticky with US citizens getting stuck in foreign lands because they’re on the no-fly list.)

    Guns are, amazingly, not hardly as dangerous as vehicles are when used without malintent, so the regulatory needs are not remotely comparable. The NSSF has recently been saying hunting is safer than golf, and for hard figures, the CDC’s preliminary 2010 report has 35,080 dead from “motor vehicle accidents”, 600 from “accidental discharge of firearms” and 246 from “discharge of firearms, undetermined intent”. And I KNOW one of those “accidents” was at minimum manslaughter, unless you call picking up a revolver you find in a house, pointing it at the head of a “friend” and pulling the trigger is an “accident”.

    (Several 14 year old girls gathered for a slumber party, the gun accidentally left out of the safe after the homeowner had done something with it and a holster, the “kids” walking into an area they weren’t supposed to, and then what I described … and yet again, an untrained civilian observes Rule 4…).

    I’m sure that’s not the only criminal homicide that’s hidden behind the word accident, but even uncorrected we’re talking 58 times as many accidental deaths from vehicles than guns. That’s quite an accomplishment for “gun nuts”, while the population has increased from something over 225 (a bit after 1980) to 308 million (2010 census) and the number of guns owned has increased at a far greater rate I’m pretty sure, absolute number of fatal gun accidents has dropped from a bit over 1,000 (this is going from solid memory of the number in the early ’80s, it was ~ 800 hunting and a bit more than 200 other) to 600 per year. You would think this accomplishment would warrant some praise….

  179. >As I understand it, the major reason for civilian disarmament in the 1920s was fear of bolshevism.

    That is true (and said fear was quite justified, even if disarming civilians was an idiotic response to it) but I was pointing at something different – not a change in laws about weapons, but a change in ideas and sentiments about masculine duty.

  180. @Harold – Exactly. When you consider the enormous and widespread level of gun ownership across the US, balanced with the level of civilian ammo purchased annually, one can reasonably conclude that tens of millions of Americans are making massive lawful use of their firearms with statistically insignificant levels of harm….demonstrating our generally high level of competence.

    We have millions of people routinely carrying a personal firearm on a daily basis, without torrents of blood running down main street, shootouts over parking spaces or even losing eyes or toes. The Brady Bunch promised such terrible things, yet they have never, ever been correct in any of their dire warnings. Why are they still taken seriously in light of such a total track record of failure?

    A nutcase kills 12 people, and the lawful are expected to strip naked before criminal predation? That’s not a rational, ‘reasonable’ response….that’s lunacy. It’s shocking precisely because it *is* so abhorrent and unusual. 14 people were killed in a pickup last night in Texas….did anyone bat an eyelid or hold a vigil for them? No. Fucking crickets, that’s all.

  181. The last figure I remember reading for annual US ammo production was 9 billion (sic) rounds per year. That was before Obama, after the start of the “War on Terror” and I’m pretty sure Iraq, can’t remember if it includes Lake City production (which is ostensibly for the military, but the contract with the operator is wonderfully flexible for both sides so civilians buy a lot of the ammo produced there).

  182. >>So the only way to prevent gun violence is for everybody to carry a gun?
    >The areas of the U.S. with higher levels of civilian carry have lower levels not just of
    >criminal gun violence but of other sorts of criminal violence as well. So…yes, exactly.

    I’d say “for the good guys to carry a gun”, but that’s a quibble. There’s no good way to distinguish.

    I’ll also point out that the term “gun violence” is wrong, and the use of it betrays a gun grabber: it’s not the gun that is violent.

  183. >I’d say “for the good guys to carry a gun”, but that’s a quibble. There’s no good way to distinguish.

    I’d say the gun is secondary to the larger point which is that the solution to violent crime in general is allowing and encouraging the populace to stand up, speak out and defend themselves and their neighbors from the criminal elements of society with whatever means they deem appropriate. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” is a phrase that’s true beyond its literal interpretation.

  184. As I understand it, the major reason for civilian disarmament in the 1920s was fear of bolshevism.

    In more modern times one impetus for gun control was the Black Panthers in the ’60′s arming themselves and following Oakland PD cars around.

  185. >” There are valid public safety arguments for this sort of licensing, which requires training. ”
    >That’s all i’m saying.

    And there are valid civil and constitutional rights reasons for opposing such licensing and training, especially when there’s no evidence to suggest it would be effective in solving any problems. Consider we live in a world where the mayor of Boston thinks it is not only right and just, but proper to threaten to disallow a private business from opening in the city because the owner’s politics differ from the mayor’s. How then do we prevent those in power from preventing the citizenry access to their rights for nothing more than differing political opinions? And do we propose that there are valid public safety arguments which require licensing and training before one is allowed to exercise their right to free speech? Perhaps we should issue special press licenses, after all journalism has caused plenty of people harm. And let’s not forget this lunatic was obsessed with “The Joker”, clearly comic book writers and film makers must all be trained and licensed by the government before they should be allowed to conduct their business.

  186. “And there are valid civil and constitutional rights reasons for opposing such licensing and training, ”

    none of them are addressed in your subsequent off-topic tangent.

  187. I recently had the experience of reading several of Robert Sawyer’s SF novels. (Yes, this is on topic, hang in there.) Sawyer is a very skilled writer, enough that after reading the first Sawyer book I’ve sought out others. I have now enjoyed WWW: Wake, WWW: Watch, and WWW: Wonder (a trilogy); Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids (another trilogy).

    But there is an uncomfortable theme just under the surface in all of these books. Sawyer is Canadian, which probably accounts for his dislike of guns, and much of the action in his books takes place in Canada. Still, he makes it pretty clear that his idea society is not just gun-free, but violence-free. The societies he lays out in these books is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to guarantee this.

    The most striking example of his disconnect with reality is a powerful scene in the WWW series, where a geeky male teen with no talent or interest in fighting is being called out by a large bully in his high school class. The two are surrounded by a large crowd of other teens. The fight is stopped when many of the teens pulls out their smartphones and announce that they are recording the action, and the geeky boy says that he can’t stop himself from being beaten up, but will sue afterward. The bully ends up walking away.

    Clearly, Sawyer does not understand that poor impulse control is at the root of a great deal of this type of violence. It’s possible that a middle-class bully might be deterred by the cameras-everywhere phenomenon, but I sure wouldn’t want to count on it. Members of organized gangs would laugh at such a feeble deterrent.

    I won’t even get into the “Hominids” universe, where the technologically advanced Neanderthal society will sterilize anyone who commits a violent act (a single punch is sufficient to qualify)…

    Where does this odd belief that everyone is capable of rational, reasonable thought at all times come from? Why is it so hard for so many people to let go of it, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Maybe it’s the “Heavy Weather and Bad Juju” effect again. Since there’s nothing I can do about irrationally violent attackers, I’ll just define them out of existence.

  188. Look, most folks who have gone to a gun range recreationally are probably not going to be any good at armed self-defense. I can have fun shooting occasionally…at pieces of paper. Moving targets are a different story, and obviously most people who don’t live in dangerous environments aren’t psychologically prepared for combat.

    On the other hand, it’s pretty darn easy to be a *safe* gun user. Just follow common-sense safety rules, and take them absolutely seriously because you are handling a dangerous weapon. Accidents are pretty rare, given that a gun is a dangerous tool: compare 400,000 emergency room visits a year due to power tools, to 24,000 accidental gun injuries a year. Being careful about guns is definitely within the power of any responsible person, and there seem to be plenty of responsible people.

    Mostly, I think it’s a “best lack all conviction” kind of deal. When people like esr encourage law-abiding civilians to learn to shoot and prepare for self-defense, he’s not writing for trigger-happy types who are overconfident in their abilities and stupid about safety. Those people already have guns (hopefully far away from me!), and they haven’t been deterred by the constant admonitions by pretty much *every* firearms expert that you have to be scrupulously careful. The gun outreach stuff is targeted at people who are cautious enough to be responsible, and maybe too *over*-cautious to try.

  189. Sure they were, licensing is subject to the whims and favors of the politicians, as demonstrated by the mayor of boston. Given the very explicit reasons for the 2nd amendment, namely the security of a free state, and given that the right of the *people* is enumerated explicitly in the constitution, it seems perfectly logical and reasonable that any such attempts at restricting the rights of the people be met with extreme prejudice. This position is further bolstered given that the long a storied history of gun control in the US runs deep with racism and denying the people their civil rights.

    Beyond that, this country was founded on the idea that the common man is both capable and god given to self rule, hence the constitution is not a document outlining the rights of the people, but rather the rights of the government that the people have chosen to grant. Despite the harm that can be caused by unrestrained speech, we jealously guard the right of the people to free speech because we understand that the good is vastly outweighed by the harm. Likewise, we should jealously guard the right to keep and bear arms, because despite the harm, the good outweighs it in many immeasurable ways. Consider the following, according to the great source of truth on the internet, wikipedia, the violent crime rate in the UK was 16:1000 in 2008-2009 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_statistics_in_the_United_Kingdom), at the same time in the US in 2009 had a rate of 4.29:1000 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States). Surely if tight restrictions on the ownership and use of guns improved the safety of the citizens in such a way as to outweigh the downfalls of civilian gun ownership, we would expect to see that reflected in the violent crime numbers right? Even in countries with lower crime rates (such as Japan, where some gun control advocates point) the cost to society is one we as Americans are unwilling to swallow, such as broad police powers for search and seizure and a distinct lack of privacy.

    Freedom, true freedom, is inherently offensive and dangerous, but history teaches us that the offenses and dangers of a free society are minimal in the long run, compared to the alternatives.

  190. esr> “…not a change in laws about weapons, but a change in ideas and sentiments about masculine duty.”

    Actually, I’ve always kind of interpreted it more as the the stink of progressivism and it’s attendant credentialism that took hold around the turn of the 20th century. Once we had professional, standing military (after WWI), and professional police, we got the, “leave it to the professionals,” paternalism. Kind of the same thing that happened with the education system, and with similar results (although one is more directly deadly than the other).

    In listening to people talk about this crap on the radio, seeing discussions online, etc. I’m constantly amazed with the attitude of people who say, “I don’t know if I could make that shot, so I’m glad they don’t allow guns.” Of course, that’s not their actual words, but that’s what it boils down to. If it were my choice, I’d rather have the gun and no be able to use it, than not have it and miss an opening. And in a crowd of a couple of hundred people, if 10% were armed, that’s 20 chances for somebody to get a clear shot. That’s a damned sight better than the chance those folks had that night.

    People need to learn that it’s fallacious to assume that just because they don’t believe they can do something, doesn’t mean nobody can. That type of thinking is profoundly ignorant.

  191. >When people like esr encourage law-abiding civilians to learn to shoot and prepare for
    >self-defense, he’s not writing for trigger-happy types who are overconfident in their abilities
    >and stupid about safety.

    It’s also worth mentioning that proper self defense training, of any sort be it guns or swords or hand to hand, all have the same general benefit the individual which is teach them a sense of self awareness, self confidence and self worth (and proper self worth, not the gold stars they hand out in school). Being capable and prepared make you less likely to be a victim in the first place, and if (god forbid) things do go pear shaped, make you that much likelier to survive the encounter safely, even if it means you still spent the encounter hidden behind cover. You will default to your level of training, and if you have none, then you will default to your baser fight or flight instincts and those can cause you harm as well.

    As I said before, the gun itself is secondary to the goal that more people be capable and willing to defend their own, and they don’t buy into this silly belief that only “experts” granted such titles by the government are capable of keeping people safe. Always remember that this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeGD7r6s-zU) “expert” was “the only one in the room professional enough” to cary that gun.

  192. I was pointing at something different – not a change in laws about weapons, but a change in ideas and sentiments about masculine duty.

    Yes, but could that change in culture have been caused by the change in the laws? That is to say, that the ruling class, afraid of being deposed by a bolshevik revolution, did whatever they could to disarm people, both by laws and by spreading the idea that nobody needs a gun or should have one, because nobody needs to defend himself? Or perhaps even that they wanted people to feel dependent on them for protection, so they’d be less likely to tolerate sedition?

  193. @Daniel Franke:

    Yes, on a less hurried re-reading, it’s quite nuanced and, as you say, not that bad. But a couple of lines bothered me, such as “But one thing I find consistently is the enduring need for men to think of themselves and women to think of them as the protectors.”

    Now, it may be that a lot of men cling to this after their other roles have disappeared, but I question whether it’s an enduring “need” or simply an enduring fact.

    Another: “Papers have described what happened in the theater as “chivalry.” But it’s not really that. Chivalry is a code of conduct connected to social propriety.” Umm, no. What you have here is people using the word in its original sense, and this lady taking exception to that and using a more modern, feminized meaning for the word.

    Finally, “It’s the same reason these Batman and Spider-Man franchises endure: Because whatever else is fading away, women still seem to want their superhero, and men still seem to want to be him.” Perhaps the event is too fresh, but I find this offensive for reasons I am having a hard time articulating tonight.

  194. People who talk about “gun crime” or “gun violence” or “shootings” are making a category error. “Gun crimes” is not a meaningful category. The relevant category is “violent crimes”; some percentage of those are committed with guns, but there’s no practical purpose for which that percentage is relevant. A crime isn’t any worse because it’s committed with a gun rather than a knife or a can of petrol or bare hands. What matters is what was done, not how it was done.

    It stands to reason that, all else being equal (i.e. after adjusting for demographics), in a place where guns are easily obtained they will be used in a greater percentage of crimes than in a place where they’re hard to obtain. But that higher percentage will be of a smaller number, and that’s what’s important.

    Put it a different way: In any given crime there are four possibilities: a) both victim and criminal have guns; b) neither has a gun; c) only the criminal has one; d) only the victim has one. It’s obvious that C is bad. Gun-grabbers take it for granted that B is the ideal; it’s slightly better than D, and a lot better than A. In fact they think B is so desirable, and A so undesirable, that they’re willing to risk C rather than allow A. Gun-promoters, on the other hand, think that while D is the ideal, A is clearly better than B. Guns are an equaliser; they give a physically weaker victim a fighting chance; and if the criminal still wins, the victim is often no worse off than he would have been without the gun.

  195. >Yes, but could that change in culture have been caused by the change in the laws?

    It’s possible, but it’s not what I think I see in the literature and histories of the period.

  196. Bennett: before you posted, I didn’t know that you are an idiot. Now I am certain of it. I guess “Thank you” is in order, because now I know not to waste any time replying to you.

  197. > And, well, if he’s looking for me it gives the women and children time to get clear.

    Except he’s got a 100 round drum magazine on his AR-15, and he’s shooting anything that moves.

    Likely far more people would have died, except he went for the crutch of a large-capacity magazine, rather than training to swap out the far more reliable 20 round mags, or spent the green for a HK93.

    Your head shot, from below, under stress, in a smoke-filled room? Nearly impossible. (Let us remember that you’re not the most able-bodied person.) $200 to you if you can succeed in a re-enactment.

  198. There are European countries with more restrictive gun laws than the US that have lower gun homicide rates than the US … but they also have lower knife homicide rates than the US. Why would their stricter gun control result in lower knife homicides? It would not. If anything it should drive their knife homicide rates higher than the US from substitution, if we were comparing equivalent populations. However, obviously we are not. And the lower homicide rates have nothing to do with strict or lax gun laws. Switzerland, where most households were required to have a real assault rifle, not a faux “assault weapon”, has always had lower homicide rates than the US.

  199. Think like a Brady Campaign/VPC flack. Think of those deprived Swiss sturmgewehr’s, waiting in the closet, straining to go out and commit mass murders that the Brady people are convinced is the natural urges of “assault weapons” … but being denied that joy by the dull Swiss. How sad.

  200. @tpmoney

    “Consider the following, according to the great source of truth on the internet, wikipedia, the violent crime rate in the UK was 16:1000 in 2008-2009 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_statistics_in_the_United_Kingdom), at the same time in the US in 2009 had a rate of 4.29:1000 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States).”

    To be fair, the US numbers seem to include only Aggravated Assault while the UK numbers reflect all accounts of “violence against the person”. I’m not sure what the latter entails. Seems like a fuzzy term.

  201. Mr. Burnsides:

    > Most training does not include the following:
    >1) Tac Awareness. (Some does, not all)
    >2) How To Shoot From Bad Posture (Hardly anyone teaches
    >this or has a range set up to practice it)
    >3) Stress Inoculation (Hardly anyone trains for this.)

    http://www.suarezinternational.com. No financial interests, etc. etc.

    They do all three. I’ve been taking about 1 class every other year from them. From force on force and extreme close range gun fighting to a week long AK gunfighting class. (I’m due, but I’m OCONUS in a NPE, so no training until I get back).

    It’s your life, you get to solve it, and frankly events like this shooter are few and far between, but as the drug violence spills up from Mexico, and our leaders continue to fritter away the real advantages of western civilization, who is going to protect you?

  202. @Sarah:
    > Look, most folks who have gone to a
    > gun range recreationally are probably not going to
    >be any good at armed self-defense. I can have
    > fun shooting occasionally…at pieces of paper.
    > Moving targets are a different story, and obviously

    I will grant you that in a complex multiple shooter environment–or even in this case, with smoke/teargass and an armored up opponent in the dark etc. etc., going to the range once in a blue moon is going to leave you WAY behind the power curve.

    But here’s the thing, you need *ONE* shot on target.

    One.

    And you’d be surprised how often relatively untrained, plain old citizens with a 1960s .38 revolver do *just fine* against essentially professional thugs.

    Most folks will never need a gun to protect themselves.

    Most who do will never need to fire it–simply making the bad guy aware of it is sufficient to end the problem.

    Most who DO fire it need only fire one shot, whether it hits or not, simply knowing that your op4 is willing to kill you is sufficient to scare the crap out of most bad guys and make them run like little girls (see the video of the two Thugs For Life in Florida when a 71 year old man fired at them).

    You don’t have to do the full Walter Middy and practice clearing shopping malls of jihadis, or fighting your way out of a flashmob turned violent to be “good” at self defense.

    > most people who don’t live in dangerous
    > environments aren’t psychologically prepared
    > for combat.

    Again you’d be surprised at how often folks DO respond well to it. It’s just that unless it’s caught on video an old man repelling boarders or a 35 year old divorcee shooting her assailant to the ground don’t make more than a brief mention in the news so it’s not in our minds, instead we get half the story (like Zimmerman) or stories like this where no one was able to fight back effectively.

  203. OK everybody, please let me try to present some sort of an neutral viewpoint and ask a question I think is important if and when objective answers can be found:

    The essential question is how much “programming” effect certain laws and rules have on culture?

    Some folks on the “libertarian side” seem to think it is next to zero – gun laws and gun-free zones do not influence much how violent people are, how badly they want guns, how violent is the general culture, or generally whether guns and violence is seen as “OK” or “not OK”.

    Some folks on the “liberal side” seem to think – it is almost ultimate – ban guns and/or create many gun-free zones, make laws and rules give the message “guns and violence are not OK” and in a generation or two you have a population of signficiantly different cultural attitudes, desires, wants when it comes to violence or guns.

    This is an almost religious debate, and in such cases it is hard to see clearly.

    I cannot really answer this question but at least make some remarks:

    What supports the liberal side is that since the beginning of civilization rulers tried to hack culture with laws, from sumptuary laws to the criminalization of swearing. Should we assume it never worked?

    What supports the libertarian side is that the liberals talk like a kindergarten teacher: “X is OK”, “X is not OK” – it sounds extremely immature, should we really assume adult people really work like that? Would a “not-OK” message really hold back a violent man on an adrenaline/testosterone trip?

    Bonus question: how comes violent, trigger-happy Hollywood action movies are NOT frowned upon in countries with anti-gun laws: every second healthy male I know in my homeland, Hungary, loves the Die Hard series, and Tarantino movies – how comes banning guns did not cause people to hate trigger-happy movies, is this not an argument against the cultural-programming of the “liberal side”?

    What if it works the other way around: culture create laws and not laws create culture?

    Bonus question 2: what if permissive, pro-gun laws/rules do influence culture but not necessarily in only a bad way – that the ideal culture is not that of the peacenik hippie, what if a case can be made that a tougher culture that “programs” some people to become sheepdogs is better, even if it programs some people to be wolves?

  204. Bret,

    Let me offer a helpful hint regarding this:

    >However, I’m finding your concept of “duty as an adult male human being” to be iffy

    ESR was strongly influenced by Heinlein in his formative years, so he more or less means this:

    “I now define “moral behavior” as “behavior that tends toward survival.” I won’t argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word “moral” to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define “behavior that tends toward extinction” as being “moral” without stretching the word “moral” all out of shape.

    Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won’t even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.

    The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which six pounds of mother cat can be so fierce that she’ll drive off a police dog. It is the level at which a father takes a moonlighting job to keep his kids in college — and the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child … and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.”

    “Men are expendable; women and children are not. A tribe or a nation can lose a high percentage of its men and still pick up the pieces and go on … as long as the women and children are saved. But if you fail to save the women and children, you’ve had it, you’re done, you’re through! You join Tyrannosaurus Rex, one more breed that bilged its final test.”

    More here: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Robert_Heinlein

  205. ESR: “I’m against them for the same reasons I’m opposed to all other restrictions.”

    So, should every red-blooded male American be towing an AA gun after his pickup, or should it be mounted in the load bed (making a “technical” of the vehicle)? There are pros and cons to both: With it mounted, you can’t transport anything else in the bed; with it towed, you’ll be defenseless when you’re towing your boat. Better swap the pickup for an Abrams; that has amphibious capability, so you won’t need a boat in the first place. Then again, I don’t know if the Abrams has any equally convenient space for hauling around your A-bombs as the load bed of a (non-”technical”-ized) pickup truck… Dilemmas, dilemmas.

    Nah, but seriously, Eric: “opposed to ALL other restrictions”? Obviously not, I hope?

  206. @Shenpen
    From the North West of Europe, I see this debate of Law and Culture as incomprehensible.

    Our anti-gun laws have nothing at all to do with trying to change culture. They only want to change a very particular behavior: Killing or wounding people.

    The basic assumptions of all our laws on arms is:
    - More guns -> More people shot :
    Therefore, the law should reduce the number of people owning guns

    - More arms -> More people harmed :
    Therefore, the law should reduce the number of people carrying arms (includes swords, sticks, and certain knives)

    I must say, these laws are almost universally supported by the population. The fact that our country belongs to the safest areas on earth would make it difficult to convince our population of the reverse.

  207. @SPQR
    “Why would their stricter gun control result in lower knife homicides?”

    But you are not allowed to carry around a knife larger than needed to peel fruit “ready for use”. And even these are occasionally confiscated. If you need to carry around something larger, it should be not within reach and ready for use (ie, wrap it). The same for baseball bats, bokens, swords etc. Certain knifes are forbidden altogether.

    There is a strong drive to reduce the number of knifes carried into school. When the police expects trouble, the major can set up a zone in the city where you can be checked for any weapons, everything that is sharp is confiscated, including Swiss army knifes.

    The thinking behind all this is that most violence is performed on impulse. If there is no weapon handy when the impulse rages, less damage is done. This is just statistics. If the perpetrator has to count to 10, or 100, to get at a weapon, he is less likely to do real damage.

    You need heavy research to convince our population of the converse.

    Oh, btw, the Swiss do shoot, but mostly themselves. All these heavy guns are very practical for shooting yourself through the head.

  208. >The fact that our country belongs to the safest areas on earth would make it difficult
    >to convince our population of the reverse.

    I can’t speak to your particular country, but given that the UK has a violent crime rate of 4x that of the US, despite having some of the most strict gun and knife laws on the books does not leave me with the impression that it’s one of the “safest areas on earth”. Perhaps then if your country is indeed that much safer, there is another cause rather than your gun laws?

    >There is a strong drive to reduce the number of knifes carried into school. When the
    >police expects trouble, the major can set up a zone in the city where you can be checked
    >for any weapons, everything that is sharp is confiscated, including Swiss army knifes.

    And this is where I realize I never want to live in your country. A place where my personal property can be confiscated simply because I happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone else decides to cause trouble.

  209. @patrick

    Silly man thinks SWAT gear makes you invincible:

    it is unclear to me that Holmes was actually wearing armor but if he was wearing IIIA vest with a III or IV hard plate then that armor largely negates the effectiveness of concealed carry weapons fired at COM…mostly small 9mm or jframes with maybe an extra mag or speedloader strip.

    North Hollywood is the classic example of body armor vs pistols.

    Now ask yourself (if you’re actually thinking during all this) whether the manly course is to first get your wife and kids the hell out of dodge or attempt a medium/long distance headshot in dark/smoky conditions and draw fire on them from a wacko with an AR15…

  210. >The thinking behind all this is that most violence is performed on impulse. If there is no
    >weapon handy when the impulse rages, less damage is done. This is just statistics.
    >If the perpetrator has to count to 10, or 100, to get at a weapon, he is less likely to
    >do real damage.

    This seems counter to what I know of crime statistics. As far as I am aware, crimes of the moment are a very small portion of the overall crime rate and that most criminals spend some degree of time planning their actions. And in the truly horrific crimes of our time, such as these theater shootings, or the VT shootings, or the Oklahoma City bombings, or Tim McVeigh etc etc, no amount of “counting to 10″ or “going to get a weapon” would have reduced anything because these people spent many months planning.

  211. Winter: you’re obviously happy in your country full of sheep. Good for you. You have no right to condemn the rest of us to such an existence.

    Nigel: the number of attackers wearing that class of body armor is minuscule, and the only way we’re going to be able to determine it’s in play is when a shot to COM has no effect. That falls into the category of 20/20 hindsight.

  212. Winter,

    I think you were not following the debate in the online US media & discussion boards?

    Essentially the argument of the “libertarian side” is that if banning guns does not change the culture – then basically all that happens is that law-abiding people won’t have guns, but people who are criminals anyway will have no problems with breaking the law and buy one BECAUSE the huge legal market converts into a huge black market + smuggling.

    And thus “liberal side” constantly talks about culture – stuff like “removing the symbols of violence will do something about a culture of violence”.

    This is what I gather about the debate from the online US media / discussion boards.

    Now you have a different situation in the NL because of the particular circumstances a black market can be suppressed efficiently: the few manufacturers like FN in Belgium, Glock in AT are tightly controlled, so everything must be smuggled through the rather efficiently policed Schengen border. As a result, 90% of the EU black market is basically the after-effect of the ex-Yugoslavian wars and as that supply source constantly dries up, the black market is more and more efficiently supressed. So it is essentially a different situation, in which something can be suppressed without even a significant culture change.

    And one can argue that the cultural change happened earlier before. I know an old German hippie who lived through the fifties and sixties. She told me that the after-effect of WW2 was that the youth culture had a gigantic backlash against any and every kind of violence or machismo. Even wearing razor-cut short hair, which is in 2012 merely seen as a matter of low-maintenance convenience, was seen as shockingly “Prussian” thing and absolutely frowned upon. She said in 1952 Western European youth would not have enjoyed a Bruce Lee movie the same way they thoroughly enjoyed it in 1972, it would have been seen as disgustingly violent. So there was actually a cultural change – earlier and mostly independent of legislation. I personally often see that Western European people are somehow often softer and peacenik-oriented as their Eastern European counterparts – that the whole machismo associated with guns just does not fit into the culture. Having a baseball bat or pickaxe handle in the car, just in case – common in EE – just sounds ridiculous in WE. And this is most likely due to the post-WW2 cultural changes.

  213. @tponey
    “I can’t speak to your particular country, but given that the UK has a violent crime rate of 4x that of the US, despite having some of the most strict gun and knife laws on the books does not leave me with the impression that it’s one of the “safest areas on earth”.”

    You are misinformed:
    Homicide rates per 100,000 population:
    Germany 0.84
    UK 1.23
    W&Central Europe 1.2
    USA 4.8
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    But then, I think this is one of these US statistics misinterpretations.

    The reported US violent crime rate includes only Aggravated Assault. In the UK, it includes all violence against the person, sexual offenses, and robbery as violent crime, as it does in Canada.

    That is an easy way to make the US a safer place.

  214. @everybody: when comparing violent crime rate per country/region/whatever, the least minimum to do is to control it for median age – violent crime and being young is more or less obviously related.

  215. I don’t believe loose gun laws create a culture of violent crime, because geographic variation doesn’t bear it out. Look at Chicago and DC, which had handgun bans until very recently. I do think loose gun laws may create a culture where guns are socially *normal*. Guns are very much not normal in Manhattan, or in England; they are in rural Missouri.

    I’m not really sure whether a society where guns are normal is, all things being equal, safer than one where guns are very rare. The thing is, that’s not a comparison that’s meaningful for policy purposes because all things are not equal.

    Prohibiting handguns is empirically *terrible* at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. I know that. I grew up in Chicago; I was always fine, but not ten blocks from me, kids were getting killed on a regular basis. And guns were definitely not culturally normal for law-abiding citizens to use. I’d never even seen one. So maybe it would have helped if we had more people who could defend themselves.

    On the other hand, a lot of the shootings were disputes between teenagers that should, in a sane world, have been fistfights. They were deadly *because* they involved weapons that make killing easy. In the hypothetical world where guns didn’t exist, a lot more people would be alive.

    I just don’t think US governments have proven themselves capable of keeping guns out of the hands of gang criminals. European countries with strict gun laws *are* mostly safe. But the US is geographically part of a huge drug trade that comes out of South America and Mexico, and as long as drugs are illegal we’ll have drug violence, and that means that you *can’t* keep guns out of the country no matter how hard you push the gun laws. Stricter gun laws will not make us look like Hungary. When you try to impose strict gun laws on a high-crime area you get pretty much the same amount of crime.

    As far as I know, the jury is still out on what causes secular trends in violent crime, like the big drop since the 90′s. But I’m pretty sure gun laws aren’t a major factor, one way or another. On a small scale, organizations like CeaseFire (http://ceasefirechicago.org/) which mediate disputes between people to prevent conflicts from escalating into violence, have been shown to be very effective.

  216. Echoing William O. B’Livion, while what Sarah says (“Look, most folks who have gone to a gun range recreationally are probably not going to be any good at armed self-defense….“) seems sound in theory, it’s simply not matched by the facts on the ground.

    Going from anecdotes to statistics, if you combine the survey based estimates of self-defense gun uses that weigh in at around 2 million per year last time I checked (which was some time ago, and again I note, from these the vast majority of incidents don’t involve the gun being fired) with the CDC collected steadily declining gun fatality accident rates it’s clear that somehow, someway, this steadily increasing number of gun owners—strongly encouraged by the nationwide sweep of shall issue concealed carry regimes, plenty of which don’t even require live fire demonstrations—just isn’t resulting in the predicted bad outcomes.

    When the facts refute the theory, the theory has to give, even if esr, Sarah, I and pretty much everyone posting in this topic believe that it’s irresponsible to not get and do some serious training when you buy a gun for self-defense. (Or hunting; one of the causes of the sharp decrease in accidental gun deaths is a sweep of mandatory safety classes as a requirement for getting a hunting license. Our age grandfathers my father and I, but his grand-kids have had to do them.)

  217. @Jay Maynard
    “Winter: you’re obviously happy in your country full of sheep. Good for you. You have no right to condemn the rest of us to such an existence. ”

    So you feel the US is populated by wolves trying to kill sheep? Please stay there.

    You project your condemnation of our life style to others. If you want to be prepared to kill others humans at all time, feel free to do that at home. There is no reason to insult us for thinking different.

  218. …If there is no weapon handy when the impulse rages, less damage is done. This is just statistics. If the perpetrator has to count to 10, or 100, to get at a weapon, he is less likely to do real damage.

    And this kind of thinking is another kind of ugliness. It represents a view of people as being a herd of livestock to be corralled and fenced and regulated until an ‘acceptable’ statistical level of attrition is achieved. So long as sufficient beans are counted in the ‘alive’ column, all is well.

    This is revolting to my mind, as I view humanity from the individual outwards. We do not exist to be toyed with by lords & masters that decide how many of us will be capable of surviving criminal violence. To man has any authority to make such a decision for me. Each of us has the right to consider the value of our lives, and the extent to which we are prepared to defend not only ourselves, but our society. The way we act individually can end up reflecting on our society as a whole…this is why I generally shun black society, for example. No…that’s not racism.

  219. Winter is correct in that U.K. violent crime scoring is broader, but when you look at the categories the rates are still very bad and a look at the upwards trends is terrifying.

    Murders are a peculiar crime; they’ve focused on for a variety of reasons, including the theory that they can’t get swept under the rug (except they are, of course, including in the U.K., or say Japan, where the standard family murder-suicide is scored as all suicides (they have cultural excuses)), but they’re not particularly good for getting a picture of a society’s crime problems. Culture is important, major causes of crime (e.g. gangs in the US), I’m sure the assurance that your victims will be unarmed makes a difference (which goes even further in the U.K. were effective self-defense was judicially nullified in the ’50s), etc.

  220. There is no reason to insult us for thinking different.

    That’s very fortunate for you.

    If you do decide to think differently, you will see that you have no choice in the matter, and that your life is dictated by the thoughts of your masters.

    Then it will not be so fortunate for you.

  221. Winter: you might say one of the big differences between the US and the U.K. is that we have added to the mix a very large number of civilian sheep dogs. Plus the control of our policing is local, almost all at the city and county level, not in the central government. Something like NuLabour’s deliberate removal of police from rural and other disfavored areas simply can’t happen here.

    If you’re happy with your system, great, just don’t be surprised that we’re reasonably satisfied with ours. Especially since there’s a reason why all my ancestors decided to decamp from Europe in the 17th to 18th centuries, from England, Germany and France.

  222. @Dan
    “And this kind of thinking is another kind of ugliness. It represents a view of people as being a herd of livestock to be corralled and fenced and regulated until an ‘acceptable’ statistical level of attrition is achieved. ”

    I know, empirical facts are always ugly. They also do not align with reason and received wisdom.

    Still, most murders are done on impulse, during brawls, family and neighborhood disputes. Not having a weapon within reach tends to prevent such murders.

    You do not see to care much for the victims, don’t you?

    @Harold
    “but they’re not particularly good for getting a picture of a society’s crime problems. ”

    I contest that. Murder rates are very good indicators for violent crime rates. They are indeed not (very) sensitive to being defined away with statistical techniques. See, eg, a comparison between Canada and the USA:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Canada

  223. @Dan
    “If you do decide to think differently, you will see that you have no choice in the matter, and that your life is dictated by the thoughts of your masters.”

    Curiously, when we are talking about freedom of speech, my country is ranked above the USA internationally. You, as an USAian, have a higher probability to get into serious trouble for what you say than I. More journalists get jailed or fired in the US than in the Netherlands, or Germany, if you prefer a “real” country.

    And seriously, I have never missed the ability to carry concealed arms. I also have never been in a situation where using a gun would even be thinkable.

  224. @Winter

    >You are misinformed:
    >Homicide rates per 100,000 population:

    Homicide is not all of violent crime, nor is it the totality of safety in a given country. I gave the statistics further up thread.

    As to your claim that US violent crime rates only include Aggravated Assault, I’ll need a citation on that, given that the statistic that I quoted includes rape, assault, murder and robbery (the link again: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States). I know this might be hard to believe given the propensity for American media to fear monger, but America is on the whole a perfectly safe country. The whole reason why these stories shock and disturb us is because in the grand scheme of things they are so exceedingly rare.

  225. @tmoney
    “I know this might be hard to believe given the propensity for American media to fear monger, but America is on the whole a perfectly safe country. The whole reason why these stories shock and disturb us is because in the grand scheme of things they are so exceedingly rare.”

    But Western Europe and Japan are safer. And these crimes shock and disturb us because they are even more rare here than in the USA.

    Your crime statistics still do not add up. Try to compare USA and Canada crime numbers. I gave you the link. Violent crime is an even wider category in other countries. See the discussions on the Canadian numbers in the Wikipedia article.

    On the whole, homicide rates track violent crime rates very well. And these show that the (Southern) USA is way more violent than Western Europe or Japan.

    You might benefit from reading Steven Pinker’s book “The Better Angels of Our Nature”. Gives a good overview on how to assemble and interpret violent crime statistics.

  226. @tmoney
    “As to your claim that US violent crime rates only include Aggravated Assault, I’ll need a citation ”

    The wikipedia article has the references:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States#Violent_crime

    The reported US violent crime rate includes only Aggravated Assault, whereas the Canadian violent crime rate includes all categories of assault, including the much-more-numerous Assault level 1 (i.e., assault not using a weapon and not resulting in serious bodily harm).[31][32] A government study concluded that direct comparison of the 2 countries’ violent crime totals or rates was “inappropriate”.[44]

  227. @ Winter

    > See, eg, a comparison between Canada and the USA:

    Seems to me that this supports the contention that gun control does nothing for crime rates, given that Canada has a gun ownership rate similar to that of the US, and still has a lower homicide rate. It’s almost as if crime is a cultural problem, not a tools problem.

  228. @tmoney
    “Seems to me that this supports the contention that gun control does nothing for crime rates, given that Canada has a gun ownership rate similar to that of the US, and still has a lower homicide rate. It’s almost as if crime is a cultural problem, not a tools problem.”

    Our people believe differently. As I wrote, you will be hard pressed to convince them that the US way is the right way on this. They will most certainly not want to experiment with relaxing gun control because some US libertarians say it is safe, using all kind of phony statistics and hand waving.

    Because, what would they gain from the freedom to carry a gun?

    A very wide majority really does not want to shoot other people, nor do they want to be shot. And if you call them sheep, that only convinces them that you want to play wolves on them.

  229. Because, what would they gain from the freedom to carry a gun?

    Allow more Muslim immigration and find out.

    You have cause and effect reversed. You had peace and quiet before you had gun control, for the same reasons that Switzerland has peace without it. Spoil those factors, at the very least introduce some serious heterogeneity (like say Malmo, Sweden) and see what happens- see just how bad gun control is at actually causing (heeheehee) peace.

  230. @ Winter

    > Our people believe differently.

    As long as we’re clear that this is a belief and not a proven fact.

    > They will most certainly not want to experiment with relaxing gun control because some
    >US libertarians say it is safe, using all kind of phony statistics and hand waving.

    They don’t have to, they can certainly examine the facts for themselves. They can examine that locations in the US with the highest levels of gun control have the highest levels of crime. They can examine the fact that despite the fact that gun ownership is increasing, and that gun control laws are relaxing, that all crime is trending downward in the US, while in the UK crime has been steadily increasing even as they continue to crank down on the tools. They can examine the Australian government which, 5 years after instituting sweeping nation wide gun control, released a study and a statement acknowledging that gun control had no positive impact on crime rates. They can examine that countries with high rates of gun ownership (like Canada or Switzerland) have lower crime rates, despite the presence and availability of these weapons. No, they don’t have to take any US libertarian’s word on it. All they have to do is examine the wide body of evidence to find that at best, gun control does nothing to affect the overall crime rates in a country.

    >Because, what would they gain from the freedom to carry a gun?

    The ability to adequately and safely defend themselves from harm when harm comes to them, and the police are minutes away. The right to be masters of their own domains, to choose or not to choose their method of self defense.

    >A very wide majority really does not want to shoot other people, nor do they want to be shot.

    This is true for America as well. Wanting to own and know how to use a gun is no more indicative of a desire to shoot others or be shot any more than owning a fire extinguisher is indicative of wanting to fight fires or have your home catch fire. It is an acknowledgment that we don’t get to choose when bad things happen to us, and the best we can do is to be prepared to deal with those bad things when they happen.

  231. >Which gets back to my original question — how do we identify these “truly disturbed”
    >individuals before they go on their rampages? Or is that even possible in a free society?

    In a free society, I’m not so sure that you can. The problem is these people tend to be very good at hiding their disturbed nature from society. It’s difficult to tell the shy and socially awkward from the truly disturbed without engaging in level of surveillance and data analysis that would make even google and facebook think twice. The other problem is that we tend to look at these things from hindsight and start attaching significance to symptoms which only have significance if you already know the person in question is disturbed.

  232. Winter, since I like to travel using carry-on luggage, during my last visit to Amsterdam, I had no trouble purchasing a perfectly acceptable folding pocket knife.

  233. @tmoney
    “The ability to adequately and safely defend themselves from harm when harm comes to them, and the police are minutes away. ”

    But given the extremely low probability of actually needing that ability, there are much much more effective ways to improve your safety with the time and money you spend on guns.

    I have a strong impression that people’s security is not the real reason people here are promoting gun ownership.

    @tmoney
    ” They can examine that locations in the US with the highest levels of gun control have the highest levels of crime.”

    You use completely wrong logic. The question is, will a change in the number of guns induce a change in the homicide rate/safety. Whether the absolute rates are high or low is irrelevant. If reducing the number of guns reduces/increases the number of homicides, then that is a very relevant policy fact.

    That is what has to be “proven”.

  234. @Daniel Franke:

    I’m trying to address the parking lot issue. Heck, I’ve brought up the “think of the environmental benefits of not having to drive home before going to the range” as the company wants to go “green”. However, without actual data, I’m up against “best practices” in any case. It doesn’t matter what a judge would rule. It matters what it would look like if Something Bad happened. Unless I can counter with actual numbers or published, peer-reviewed papers which have a wide degree of acceptance, I’m still at a loss. Any good suggestions here?

  235. Winter: It doesn’t take a population of wolves trying to kill sheep. It only takes one. Ask Theo van Gogh. The rijkspolitie did a fantastic job protecting him, didn’t they? (Or whichever police agency there would have that job.) When seconds counted, they were minutes away – and van Gogh didn’t have the ability to protect himself.

    I’m not prepared to kill anyone who isn’t interested in harming me. Anyone who is, though…let me add some Latin to the Greek in this thread: Nemo me impune lacessit.

    tmoney is exactly correct: we don’t get to choose what bad things happen to us or when. All we can do is prepare ourselves to deal with them. In Europe, people have decided to “prepare” by shoving it off on the state, paying others to take the risks and accepting that they may be harmed if that protection fails. American thought has it that it is the duty of every adult citizen (I refuse to limit it to males) to prepare themselves to protect themselves from bad things perpetrated by bad people. The difference is examined thoroughly in Jeffrey Snyder’s essay A Nation of Cowards, available at http://rkba.org/comment/cowards.html .

    The nation you would have us become is a nation of cowards. I consider that morally wrong.

  236. @Nigel:

    Now ask yourself (if you’re actually thinking during all this) whether the manly course is to first get your wife and kids the hell out of dodge or attempt a medium/long distance headshot in dark/smoky conditions and draw fire on them from a wacko with an AR15…

    I’m not saying that, in this particular instance, returning fire would have been worthwhile for any particular movie-goer. As Jay points out, that’s difficult to know, and difficult to second-guess. But the article I pointed out extrapolated from this particular instance to “Oh, no! Crazy mass murders have discovered body armor! All is lost!.”

  237. @Winter:

    You use completely wrong logic. The question is, will a change in the number of guns induce a change in the homicide rate/safety.

    This naively presupposes that it is possible to easily reduce the number of guns, and further that the reduction will happen among that element of the population that the rest of us need to protect ourselves against.

  238. >I have a strong impression that people’s security is not the real reason people here are
    >promoting gun ownership.

    Then you are not listening.

    >You use completely wrong logic. The question is, will a change in the number of guns
    >induce a change in the homicide rate/safety. Whether the absolute rates are high or low
    >is irrelevant. If reducing the number of guns reduces/increases the number of
    >homicides, then that is a very relevant policy fact.

    You keep conflating homicides with safety, and that is wrong. The homicide rate is not the totality of safety. The overall violent crime rate is a much better indicator of safety, and the fact of the matter is gun control has little effect on the crime rate. Australia has acknowledged it, the ever increasing crime rates in the UK suggest it, the decreasing crime rates in the US suggest it, and the fact that the cities in the US with the highest crimes rates (including homicides) are all cities with massive amounts of gun control restrictions.

  239. >Nah, but seriously, Eric: “opposed to ALL other restrictions”? Obviously not, I hope?

    I’m not aware of any legal restrictions on weapons ownership that are consequentially useful.

    I know, I know, this is where your eyes bulge out and you squeak “But what about atom bombs?”. You’re not thinking. Criminals and madmen laugh at weapons bans. Trying to prevent violence with bans is exactly as effective as trying to stop a bad smell with a screen door. The logic holds whether the weapon we’re speaking of is a pistol, an AA gun, or a nuclear weapon.

    It’s actually perfectly legal to own an AA gun in many parts of the U.S. You don’t see them mounted on trucks because they’re not cost-effective for any reasonable civilian threat model.

  240. Patrick Maupin and Winter: the British started their gun control regime 99 years ago, and as I noted earlier made them useless for self-defense in the ’50s so that certainly played into the change. (This also reversed a steady downward trend in interpersonal violence that started in the 13th century, quite an accomplishment….)

    One could try to “fundamentally transform” the US in this way, but it would take a long time and the process would be extremely bloody, to the point of likely failing. And certainly our political trends are in the opposite direction, which is not surprising in a center-right nation where 40% self-identify as “conservative” and 20% as “liberal” (note to Winter, since we’re two peoples divided by a common language, if you didn’t know, “right wing”, “populist” and especially “liberal” mean very different things over here).

  241. @tmoney
    Guns are for killing. So I see gun use only in terms of number of people wounded or killed.

    Also, I see shooting someone who runs away with your purse as attempted murder. Premeditated as you walk around with a fire arm intended for kiliing.

  242. @dan

    MFS .223 55gr FMJ Zinc Plated 500 rounds – $130

    STOCKPILE! ;)

    500 rnds is not a stockpile. That’s a couple days of plinking with the boy when he’s older…

    @shenpen

    This is an almost religious debate, and in such cases it is hard to see clearly.

    This IS a religious debate and we’ve devolved into the usual gun “debate” here (winter vs the NRA cadre).

    I don’t talk gun control for the same reasons I don’t talk religion. People get all holier than thou and irrational right quick and seeing as I’m middle of the road I usually end up taking fire from both directions.

    The cultural difference, in my opinion, between Europe and the US is that the frontier era didn’t end for us until the early 20th century. Depending on how you want to score it, Europe’s frontier period ended sometime during the Roman Empire.

    The cultural divide is vast and calling each other names is silly but not surprising. With only a century or so from our frontier era we’re still evolving our societal norms from that starting point.

  243. >But if you fail to save the women and children, you’ve had it, you’re done, you’re through!

    One of my regulars (Susan Stewart) gave me hell last night on IRC for describing the duty to defend as one of adult males; she insisted “Stop giving women a pass!”

    She’s right, of course. Women have a duty to defend, too. But I emphasize that it’s a duty of adult males because if a woman has to fight to defend her children, it means the males around her have failed in their duty. The reason for this asymmetry is that women have a sharply limited number of ovulations in their lifetimes. Female lives are more individually valuable to a tribe or culture’s reproductive capacity than male ones are.

    During the Aurora shooting, three men took bullets for their girlfriends. No woman stopped a bullet for her boyfriend. This was unsurprising and correct behavior.

  244. Winter: I’ve passed the “do it 10,000 times and you’re an ‘expert’” threshold of the number of rounds I’ve fired in my life to date, and I’ve never even tried to shoot a human being. Less than half of those rounds were for hunting or “varmint” (pest) reduction, so I wasn’t even trying to kill anything when firing most of them. The US annual civilian ammo production and therefore usage figures are somewhere around 9 thousand million, and rather obviously a very small fraction of those rounds hurt anybody.

    As far as your purse snatching example, you’ll be happy to know that outside of Texas it would be criminal. The last time I checked, in Texas you’re allowed after a verbal warning to use lethal force to defend property, but Texas is of course Texas….

    As a side note, that’s one of the beauties of our federal system of government, we’ve got 51 petri dishes just counting the states and the District of Columbia, many more when you count the more unique counties and cities, where different policies are tried out and we can observe which work and don’t, which of course is often a value judgement for each of us. And we can generally move to a place that matches our values and move out if it changes too much. Like gun control? There are plenty of states and cities that will accommodate you. Dislike it, many more.

  245. >Guns are for killing.

    And target shooting, sport and self defense …

    >So I see gun use only in terms of number of people wounded or killed.

    Ah I see, so as long as the number of people killed or wounded with GUNS goes down, it doesn’t matter that the number of people being killed or wounded in general is going up? This seems to me to be solving the wrong problem.

    >Also, I see shooting someone who runs away with your purse as attempted murder.

    As does every state in the US. On the other hand, shooting someone who threatens you physical bodily harm while attempting to take your purse is not.

  246. (note to Winter, since we’re two peoples divided by a common language, if you didn’t know, “right wing”, “populist” and especially “liberal” mean very different things over here)

    I don’t think Winter is unaware of the different political spectrum America has relative to the rest of the world (particularly Europe and the anglosphere outside the U.S.). It’s just that from a European perspective, both of the default U.S. political orientations are comically absurd.

  247. @esr “Criminals and madmen laugh at weapons bans” – Without taking sides, I will note that if the weapons [whether AA guns or nukes] are not banned, a criminal or madman’s attempt to acquire one is not actionable. If you ignore this factor, _of course_ nothing is “consequentially useful”.

  248. It’s difficult to tell the shy and socially awkward from the truly disturbed without engaging in level of surveillance and data analysis that would make even google and facebook think twice.

    The NSA, however, is already on the job.

  249. To go further… would you say that it should be legal to open carry explosive vests with attached deadman switches – that a ban on doing so is not consequentially useful?

  250. @Jeff Read
    You nailed it.

    Except that I know the emotion is mutual. I am beyond the point where I judge people on mere words and appearances. Whether they are Dutch, American, khoi san, or Papuan.

  251. @esr

    I know, I know, this is where your eyes bulge out and you squeak “But what about atom bombs?”. You’re not thinking. Criminals and madmen laugh at weapons bans. Trying to prevent violence with bans is exactly as effective as trying to stop a bad smell with a screen door. The logic holds whether the weapon we’re speaking of is a pistol, an AA gun, or a nuclear weapon.

    Thus far the measures put into place to limit the construction of large IEDs appear to be largely effective. Can bad guys still build bombs? Yes. Hopefully not ones that can take out buildings so easily.

    Limiting NFA weapons like machine guns certainly limits what bad guys can easily acquire. A bad guy modified AR or AK is one thing. Bad guys having unregulated access to MMG/HMG quite another. Regulation of machine guns and destructive devices have driven the price of these class of weapons much higher (either legal or black market) reducing the availability to bad guys.

    Bad guys face the same physical and financial constraints as everyone else.

    Societies enact bans and regulations for layered defenses not to be 100% effective. The same way you might have a home alarm, a dog, a sign, a sword, a gun, a moat, a guard, etc. Bad guys can always get past those but is slows them down and increases their chances of failure/getting caught. They don’t laugh at enforced bans or regulations as it causes them more work and exposes them to more risk.

    So who’s not thinking?

    Whether the positive effect of a ban or regulation is worth the negative effect is a different issue but it is dishonest to imply that bans have no negative effect on the availability for bad guys to acquire what they need for doing harm.

  252. Why would a ban specifically on explosive vests with attached deadman switches be useful? I’m pretty sure such behavior is already covered under existing laws.

  253. Winter, as I said….is is fortunate that you think that way, for you have no choice otherwise.

    I would like to see individuals remain free to choose, you prefer the state dictate such things….and *I* am the one that doesn’t care about victims? Orwellian…..

  254. “Would a “not-OK” message really hold back a violent man on an adrenaline/testosterone trip?”

    Exactly the point I was trying to make in a lengthy post that is still caught in the moderation queue.

  255. @Jeff – …It’s just that from a European perspective, both of the default U.S. political orientations are comically absurd….

    To be fair, the feeling’s pretty mutual.

  256. Random832 “[...] if the weapons … are not banned, a criminal or madman’s attempt to acquire one is not actionable.

    That’s an “it depends”. If the individual has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, or the madman has been adjudicated mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institutionm he cannot legally buy a gun. The National Instant Check System (NICS) enforces this in sales by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), and it’s illegal for a non-FFL to knowingly make such sales (one reason they’re not required to use the NICS is that presumably they have a good reading on whom they’re selling to, plus if they do it across state lines it must go through an FFL).

    Virginia Tech happened in part due to the state dropping the ball on enforcing the ordered treatment for the future shooter and in reporting it, and they’ve worked hard on fixing the latter; hopefully other states that didn’t have their act together did the same.

    Although of course with deinstitutionalization many “madmen” never pass either threshold before they legally buy guns and shoot people, but that’s a different problem—and as Clayton Cramer pointed out in a comment at pagunblog.com this makes the argument for the NICS a lot stronger, if we’re not going to keep these dangerous people off the streets then it’s an imperfect filter keeping them from getting guns. Although of course not knives, gasoline (after 9/11 and OK City, the next 20 or so worst mass murders in US history were arsons), etc.

    It sounds like in a reasonable mental health regime the shooter of the Arizona Congresswoman would have been committed or the like, but with the current requirements for that he pretty much had to first spill blood. And to tie this in with another issue we’re discussing, with all these people on the streets, we individual citizens have a greater need to carry concealed….

  257. 500 rnds is not a stockpile. That’s a couple days of plinking with the boy when he’s older…

    Indeed so….and much fun to be had. Personally, I’d start to qualify a “stockpile” at around the 2k per weapon mark.

    I was actually using the word “stockpile” as a verb….as in “at that price, start to stockpile them” ;)

  258. Winter, you ask if weapons bans have an effect increasing or decreasing crime rates.

    As I understand it, European countries and the UK have enacted ever tighter weapons bans over the last 100 years, and that the violent crime rates are going up. Hot burglary/home robbery rates are higher than in the USA and increasing. Am I mistaken?

    The USA, on the other hand, is loosening restrictions to conform to the Second Amendment and our crime rates are going down. Our hot burglary rates have never been as high as in Europe.

    On the Gripping Hand, violent crime rates may in fact be related to a third variable such as age distribution in an area, the general socioeconomic status of the local population, the local average IQ, population density in general… In which case your focus on eliminating weapons is a distraction from real solutions to your growing problem and disarms potential victims.

  259. Jeff Read: Winter is surely not unaware of that, but we all should remember in a discussion like this that these terms sometimes have very different connotations or meanings. For those of us in the US, the most significant might be “populist”: when we hear that, we think e.g. William Jennings Bryan (“You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.“), they think e.g. Hitler (or so I’ve read).

    And the relative political success of both is probably one of the reasons we’re not so scared of “populists” (Bryan ran for President three times without success).

    Ah, one political process term that it’s important to remember the difference: when we table a measure, we mean we stop considering it, when the British table one, they mean the opposite. Churchill commented on this one in his WWII history.

  260. >criminal or madman’s attempt to acquire one is not actionable

    Madmen, especially, aren’t deterred by the notion that their behavior is “actionable”. The idea that making laws in itself has compulsive force is a kind of voodoo or wishful thinking.

    By the time you know that a madman has a suicide vest or a nuke it’s already too late for “actionable” to matter.

  261. >but it is dishonest to imply that bans have no negative effect on the availability for bad guys to acquire what they need for doing harm.

    Not dishonest. Just realistic.

    Actually, to be exact, one shouldn’t say “no” effect. I agree bans may have some suppressive effect on small-scale crimes in which (this is the key point) the perp isn’t highly motivated to end-run the ban. But there are two obvious reasons this effect doesn’t dominate.

    1. In such small-scale crimes (such as, say, street muggings) the deterrent effect of armed civilians is much larger than the suppressive effect of the ban.

    2. Really gaudy atrocities like the Aurora shooting or the Oklahoma City bombing aren’t affected by bans. They’re not casual; they’re performed by people who are gripped by some compulsive need to act out or destroy and will find a way to do it.

    In theory there might be an intermediate category between these two, but in practice…no.

    Ban on IEDs effective? Don’t make me laugh. If I wanted to build a bomb that could take out a building I could do it; I know how and I know where to get the materials and no I am not going to explain that in public. What saves us from more buildings coming down isn’t IED bans, it’s that very few people want to blow up a building enough to invest the time and effort required. To anyone who is prepared to do that, the legal obstacles are a joke.

  262. @ Winter

    LOL – poor sheeple, btw, say hello to your new overlord islamics, the tail wags the dog

    Lest you forget, most all the “wolves” left Europe long ago, barring those that control the remaining sheep. Many came to the US, where they continue to display their wolfish behavior by owning guns and having a willingness to stand up on their hind legs and defend themselves.

    Along the way, euro sheep also managed to send us colonies plenty of your mental defectives and criminals….making it even more important for us to learn to defend ourselves.

    Guns are merely tools…the mind is the most important weapon.

    There is not a significant difference between 1 vs 4 murders per 100,000 – that’s just noise in the evolutionary process….

  263. Something went wrong posting an empty comment, sorry.

    Funny thing, people like Jay from a country with an average homicide rate of 4.8 are telling us, with an average rate of 1.2, that we would be much safer if we adopted their policies. Or even that we should adopt even loser laws.

    Sounds a lot like the economic advice to reduce banking regulation. That was an unprecedented disaster. New advice new disasters?

  264. @esr

    Madmen, especially, aren’t deterred by the notion that their behavior is “actionable”. The idea that making laws in itself has compulsive force is a kind of voodoo or wishful thinking.

    By the time you know that a madman has a suicide vest or a nuke it’s already too late for “actionable” to matter.

    It’s not deterrence. It’s detection. Purchasing large quantities of fertilizer without being a farmer evidently sets off alarms. Likewise components for nuclear weapons or detonators.

    With the tight controls over high explosives suicide vests are either less effective or harder/far more dangerous to make. A vest made from low explosives like smokeless powder or black powder substitute will kill people but the lethal radius much lower than one made from high explosives (for the same size). Making your own high explosives a la the IRA has a far increased risk of blowing yourself up.

    When high explosives do go missing, people notice a lot more.

    In Holmes’ case, a man who watches violent movies and plays video games that owns a rifle (even an AR), a shotgun and a couple handguns is unremarkable. I probably just described half the 20-30 male population of colorado…

    12 deaths from a semi-auto AR is tragic…but it beats the heck out of some madman with a machine gun or a big bomb. If he could have legally gotten a M60 off ebay and hosed down a large crowd…

  265. “Madmen, especially, aren’t deterred by the notion that their behavior is “actionable”. ” – I’m not talking about “deterring” them. I’m talking about the ability to ACTUALLY legally arrest them when you find out they’re building a nuclear bomb, or obtaining materials to build one with, rather than only after they’ve detonated it in a populated area, since you are arguing the laws should be such that until they do that they’ve done nothing illegal.

    “By the time you know that a madman has a suicide vest or a nuke it’s already too late for “actionable” to matter.” – you don’t find out they’re a madman until it’s too late, but if you can take away the bomb without finding out they’re a madman, then it’s not too late.

  266. “Actionable” means that you [er, the government] can _take action_ – actually do something about it. It has nothing to do with whether their ability to do so deters anyone from starting their plans, it’s a matter of preventing them from finishing them.

  267. I want to point out that there are 300 odd million people in the USA. Some of us are very odd. These shootings are rare, which is why they make the national news. The proper policy response is do nothing. Unfortunately it’s probably political suicide to say so.

    Liquor store robberies rarely make the national news. They are much more common. There probably should be policy responses, though not at the national level. It’s not in the Federal baliwick.

    I read a description of how a student at a school for the blind was shown a sharp corner on a fireplace. The student’s response was that it should be padded, that blind people could get hurt on it. The teacher replied that the world was full of sharp corners. There was no way to pad them all.

    At some point all these government efforts to be seen to be ensuring the public safety are more trouble than they’re worth.

  268. All this new Colorado incident proves is that America has a serious serious problem that it is completely ignoring:

    Mental Illness.

    America ignores the actual cause of the problem in favor of more laws passed to treat the symptom of the problem by restricting freedom.

    All of you liberals who may be reading this blog: Consider that if we didn’t have isolated people driven insane because everyone else around them is pretending everything is OK and trying to convince themselves that their strange friends are OK, we wouldn’t have mass murders at all regardless of weapon used. If we didn’t have a culture that entirely ostracizes those who seek help, shuns the strange, celebrates the conformists, and embraces silence on troubling issues, our general population might get the diagnoses they need.

    These are not the laws you are looking for.
    Gun owners can go about their business.
    Move along.

  269. >It’s not deterrence. It’s detection. Purchasing large quantities of fertilizer without being a farmer evidently sets off alarms.

    You would be shocked if you knew how easy it is to game against this. And not because the people manning the alarms are incompetent, either; the problem is intrinsic to trying to make anything into unobtainium.

    Making plastic high explosives is actually rather easy and relatively safe. Within recent historical memory European countries actually broadcast a recipe to armed resistance groups in occupied countries.

  270. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

    Lies, damned lies….you know the rest.

    Winter, it is of no relevance whatever the ‘rate’ is….I do not deserve to die, and I freely choose to do what I can to lawfully protect myself, my family and civil society as a whole. Thankfully I am not an animal on your horrifying (sociopathic & cowardly) statist farm.

    Your aggregate view of crime in the US is grossly simplistic. If you analyze the hotspots and understand the demographics concerned, a very different story emerges. It is not simply ‘an average’ homogenized across the country….there are hotspots and specific demographics that skew the stats. If you control for those, violent crime in the US is far less common……yet it always happens to *someone*, and I wish for that someone to have the choice of personal defense.

  271. @ winter

    I think you partially labor under a misconception. At least in my case, I do not want you to change anything about what you decide to do where you live. What I object to is you trying to dictate what I should do where I live.

    Anyway, the tiny statistical difference in murder rates in 1st tier western countries is not significant. If you remove urban drug gang crime from the equation, all other areas of USA and Europe are virtually identical, which is not terribly surprising considering the cultural similarity.

  272. >I’m talking about the ability to ACTUALLY legally arrest them when you find out they’re building a nuclear bomb,

    Your faith in the ability of law enforcement to spot such people in advance is touching, but completely ungrounded.

    The Aurora shooter stuffed his apartment with booby traps and IEDs. ~Good thing they spotted him before he shot anyone, isn’t it?~

  273. Ban on IEDs effective? Don’t make me laugh. If I wanted to build a bomb that could take out a building I could do it; I know how and I know where to get the materials and no I am not going to explain that in public. What saves us from more buildings coming down isn’t IED bans, it’s that very few people want to blow up a building enough to invest the time and effort required. To anyone who is prepared to do that, the legal obstacles are a joke.

    As smart as you might be there’s a good chance you’d get caught or blow yourself up.

    In any case, your statement right there shows the effectiveness of restrictions and bans:

    “very few people want to blow up a building enough to invest the time and effort required”

    Exactly. We’ve increased the time and effort required as a result of new regulations and protocols.

    That there are idiots and madmen out there with a desire to blow up a building is without question. The problem for them is that it’s much harder to do today than in ’93 and ’95. Whichever one of your various alternatives you are thinking of, they are harder and more risky than a fertilizer based device in a Ryder truck.

    If it were still that easy (relatively speaking) then there likely would have been another such event by now. The difficulty bar is now much higher.

  274. There’s a joke amongst chemists:

    How do you recognise a chemist dabbling with high explosives in his garage?

    You can’t shake hands with him.

  275. >In any case, your statement right there shows the effectiveness of restrictions and bans:

    No. You misunderstood. The time and effort required to make a building-wrecking bomb has almost nothing to do with the legal bans. The physical work involved is strenuous and involves processes that pose hazards including both accidental explosions and chemical poisoning or burns; it would remain difficult and dangerous if the components were available on street corners.

    Any time you hook detonators up to live explosives, your day can really suck. Whether the components are legal or not has basically nothing to do with the hazards involved.

    (I am not a qualified pyrotechnician. But I know people who have done military demolition work, and have been told how to make IEDs by same.)

  276. @esr

    The Aurora shooter stuffed his apartment with booby traps and IEDs. ~Good thing they spotted him before he shot anyone, isn’t it?~

    Not very big ones. Given the easy availability of low explosives it’s trivial to do so undetected.

    A few people killed by a pipe bomb is tragic. OKC was a completely difference scale.

  277. Winter, I’m glad that the stricter laws in the Netherlands are working to prevent young, mentally ill spree killers from doing in the Netherlands what Holmes was able to do here … oops.

    Except I guess that didn’t really work out that well. The Netherlands is not immune to the same kind of violence from the mentally ill using firearms. Tristan van der Vlis, a 24 year old (familiar age? Schizophrenia I’ll bet.) at the Alphen aan de Rijn kind of showed that the Netherlands’ stricter laws are not all that effective either.

  278. @esr writes:
    >Really gaudy atrocities like the Aurora shooting or the Oklahoma City bombing aren’t affected by bans.

    One of the things that seems to have been forgotten in the trauma of the Columbine school massacre was that it was much less destructive than it could have been. The shooters’ original intent was to detonate two bombs made out of propane tanks in the cafeteria when it was full to the brim. (The police actually found carefully executed surveys the shooters kept to find out when the cafeteria was most full, and set the bombs to go off at that time.) Furthermore, this was not some wet fantasy, the police also recovered videos of the shooters successfully detonating these bombs out in the backwoods.

    Had the bombs gone off the explosion would have directly killed many of the hundreds of kids in there, but forensic structural engineers also determined that it would probably have brought down the building too and killed the rest.

    Fortunately, the bombs malfuctioned (school video shows the shooters’ trying to detonate them by shooting up the bombs.) Consequently only 20 kids were killed rather than hundreds.

    Are we to ban propane tanks too?

  279. Winter seems to miss one point, and that is that many Americans still live where wildlife can be a threat. People in Alaska all carry in the bush, I’ve seen video of bears in Los Angeles, and there have been fatalities from mountain lions in California and Colorado. Coyotes are not unknown here in SoCal and are a threat to kids and domestic animals. It doesn’t mean we have to carry all the time, but it is nice to have some level of protection available above and beyond a Swiss army knife.
    Winter is basically comparing apples to oranges. Europeans have been domesticated and culled for may generations, the process is just beginning here.

  280. No. You misunderstood. The time and effort required to make a building-wrecking bomb has almost nothing to do with the legal bans.

    But I know people who have done military demolition work, and have been told how to make IEDs by same.)

    Ask those guys if it is harder and more dangerous today to make a large IED than back in the 90s when you could get bulk fertilizer without the ATF banging on your door.

    The fact that plastic explosives are not readily available on OUR street corners completely changes the dynamics of domestic IEDs vs those found elsewhere. Likewise the control of nitrate based fertilizers in large quantities. Domestic IEDs are largely black powder substitute pipe bombs vs high explosive IEDs seen in some other parts of the world.

    I prefer it that way and I feel it’s a perfectly good trade off in terms of safety and liberty.

  281. I find it striking that these two statements are too often considered to be essentially the same by advocates for gun control. “You will never know if an armed person could have intercepted and changed events because it would be impossible for someone to intervene successfully against a well armed mad man in a crowded cinema with no lighting” vs “You will never know if an armed person could have intercepted and changed events because no one was armed”. There is a fundamental difference here. One assumes victim status no matter what the situation. The other assumes victim status was guaranteed only because no one was armed. Why don’t (or can’t or won’t) advocates for gun control get the difference? If I drew a Venn diagram of this it would have an intersection that said “an armed person was present and was indeed able to interfere and saved X lives”. An even smaller intersection might include “an armed citizen took the creep out before any innocent was injured”. Gun control advocates seem incapable of recognizing the intersection (let alone trying to define it out of existence). However, on the side that has “no one is armed” the results are “the victims only stopped increasing in number when the creep stopped shooting”. On the other side, “several additional victims included those accidentally shot by an armed citizen”. But even then, the additional citizens would have been shot accidentally and there is a whole world of difference between senseless killings by a madman and accidentally caught in cross fire. On balance, the idea that no one was armed at all remains a disturbing aspect of this slaughter. And the idea that gun control advocates seem impervious to the logic is disturbing as well.

  282. Fortunately, the bombs malfuctioned (school video shows the shooters’ trying to detonate them by shooting up the bombs.) Consequently only 20 kids were killed rather than hundreds.

    Are we to ban propane tanks too?

    No.

    But again, the restricting the availability of safe and relatively easy to use high explosives forced them to use devices that are either less effective or more error prone.

    These bombs failed to detonate. C4 or Tovex or your favorite substance that goes boom with a professionally made detonator would likely not have failed. Therefore, in my book, regulation worked just as intended.

    Why is it that there can be no middle ground? Banning cars or propane tanks is reductio ad absurdum. So is arguing that the lack of all regulation results in the Jones’ becoming a nuclear power.

    Some regulation is desirable. Too much regulation is undesirable.

    No regulation or no guns results in avoidable idiotic outcomes.

  283. Nigel, I am afraid that the controls on bulk explosive components is somewhat more show than substance even today. Its not impossible to divert substantial quantities of the components of ANFO in reality. (And sometimes I think it would have made just as much sense to have the ATF surveil Ryder rental trucks.) Just as the controls on the components of meth have not really slowed down meth labs as much as advertised.

  284. By the way, I think there is some increasing skepticism warranted toward the earlier reports that Holmes was wearing body armor.

  285. Yes. The impression I am now getting is that he wore a tactical vest (to look like a badass?), but that there were no armor inserts. not that this detracts from the fact that it is still perfectly possible to buy such things, but he may well have been far more easily dispatched had an armed civilian been present.

    Maybe the story will change yet again.

    Also, apparently Aurora *does* have a gun-carry ban on the books, but that it is unenforceable due to state preemption law. Nevertheless, the fact that it is still on the books has a chilling effect on lawfully armed people, as they understandably may not wish to risk being arrested at gunpoint – even if the charges would eventually be dropped. Nobody *wants* to go through that.

    Gun Free/Suppressed Zones FTW!

  286. >Ask those guys if it is harder and more dangerous today to make a large IED than back in the 90s when you could get bulk fertilizer without the ATF banging on your door.

    On information received, I’ll just say “no” – I could call up my expert friend to confirm, but I already know what he’d tell me from previous conversations. The increment in difficulty is minor compared to the fixed hazards.

    The real reason we haven’t had more building-wreckers is isn’t the counter-ANFO bans, it’s because that kind of bombing is not ordinary criminality, it’s political. The way you shortstop it is by monitoring terrorist groups and infiltrating them through their aboveground political connections. My friend wasn’t in that end of things – he was a shooter – but he’s too bright not to have studied the whole neighborhood.

  287. “the physical work involved is strenuous and involves processes that pose hazards including both accidental explosions and chemical poisoning or burns; it would remain difficult and dangerous if the components were available on street corners.”

    It occurs to me… That we are talking about IEDs – _improvised_ explosive devices – at all, is missing the point. If high explosives were perfectly legal, as you are suggesting such a ban is not at all consequentially useful… they could literally just go to the bomb store and pick up a bomb. There are, after all, plenty of legitimate uses for high explosives, demolition and the like.

  288. Are we to ban propane tanks too?

    I just imagined Hank Hill ranting about this in my head.

    “Now, damn it, Peg, we live in America. In America, a man has the right to buy as much propane (and propane accessories) as he sees fit, and the government can’t do nothin’ about it. It’s in the Constitution. In America we have a word for people who think it’s OK to ban or restrict propane — fascists.”

    Realistically, we restrict cough medicine because kids can brew it into crystal meth; the first time some Columbine wannabes blow up a school cafeteria with propane tanks we can expect restrictions on the sale of propane to follow.

  289. Dan wrote: Also, apparently Aurora *does* have a gun-carry ban on the books, but that it is unenforceable due to state preemption law. Nevertheless, the fact that it is still on the books has a chilling effect on lawfully armed people, as they understandably may not wish to risk being arrested at gunpoint – even if the charges would eventually be dropped. Nobody *wants* to go through that.

    No, there is no “chilling effect” on concealed carry permit holders from Aurora municipal ordinances that are preempted. None. Its common knowledge that they are preempted.

  290. @Jeff Read on Tuesday, July 24 2012 at 4:03 pm

    See my comment: Bob on Tuesday, July 24 2012 at 1:35 pm

    If there seems to be an epidemic of such things, as in hundreds/year then perhaps some policy changes might be in order. It won’t get to that. People will tighten up on propane tank purchases by minors of their own accord, as in “I don’t know you. Just why do you want this propane tank?”

  291. >they could literally just go to the bomb store and pick up a bomb

    Yes, they could. And if component bans were effective, that’s what terrorists in the real world would do, too. They’d work out how to forge or steal the required credentials.

    Your error is in believing that the world we live in is significantly different from a “high explosives are legal” world from the point of view of a terrorist. Sure, it’s different from your point of view, but the terrorist has a different cost function. What he’s doing is already so dangerous that the incremental risks of circumventing weapons or component bans barely even register.

  292. @Jeff Read

    Also, we don’t restrict cough medicine sales realistically. We restrict them unrealistically. Legislatures pass those laws so they can say they did something about crystal meth. Tens of thousands of sinus sufferers are stopped from buying pseudoephedrine when the pharmacy is closed to prevent a paltry few from buying one particular precursor.

  293. SPQR – do you speak for all armed Coloradans?

    Wherever there is a law/ordinance on the books, the possibility exists that an LEO could arrest you. The fact that it is preempted and you would eventually be released, charges dropped etc is small comfort when you had a gun in your face, property confiscated, thrown in jail etc. I wouldn’t want to risk going through that, so I wouldn’t visit Aurora. With a family life to worry about, I can understand how some would find it to be a ‘chilling’ effect on lawful carry.

    Aurora needs to be forced to remove that ordinance….

  294. “Your error is in believing that the world we live in is significantly different from a “high explosives are legal” world from the point of view of a terrorist.”

    It is. For example, he has to mix the chemicals himself. He chooses explosives that are less reliable or less safe than the ideal that he could buy if everything were freely available. This is self-evident from the fact that we are talking about fertilizer and propane tanks. _The risk would be less_ if he could just go out and buy some C4 at the hardware store.

  295. @dan

    Aurora needs to be forced to remove that ordinance….

    Why? Do you live there? What gives you the right to tell these folks what they do or do not want on their books regarding concealed carry? Especially since it’s overridden anyway.

    We have a hippy town around here with a no nukes ordinance on the books. Whatever, if it makes them happy…

  296. @Dan how is the situation of being arrested based on a law that is preempted different from the situation of being arrested based on a law that has been repealed, or one that has never existed at all?

  297. >_The risk would be less_ if he could just go out and buy some C4 at the hardware store.

    Yes. You appear to be wilfully ignoring the part where I pointed out: “What he’s doing is already so dangerous that the incremental risks of circumventing weapons or component bans barely even register.”

  298. >Why [should Aurora be forced to remove that ordinance]?

    For the exact same reason that all other laws in violation of foundational civil rights are odious.

  299. ADJ said: [quoting ESR]“For myself, from now on I plan to willfully violate every “gun-free zone” policy I run across. If enough sane people do likewise, perhaps the next massacre can be prevented.”

    So the only way to prevent gun violence is for everybody to carry a gun?

    Genius.

    Well, there are broadly four sorts of people in the world, for this purpose.

    1) The sort of people who don’t want to kill anyone with a gun (but might do so in self defense or defense of others).
    2) The sort of people who might well want to murder someone with a gun, but would be deterred by the near certainty of being killed by their intended victims. (Or who would use a firearm to rob, assault, rape, without particularly wanting to murder, which is still Very Bad.)
    3) The sort of people who are like #2 but won’t be deterred.
    and
    4) Yahoos who are completely without self control and like the parodies used by gun controllers, will shoot someone over talking in the theater, or by being stupid yahoos with a gun.

    1) are no threat. 2) would be successfully deterred. 3) literally cannot be stopped by any means in advance. 4) don’t seem to be a huge problem in the real world.

    (Vermont, for instance, lets anyone who can possess a gun legally, carry it concealed. And is not plagued by random shootings from Popcorn Rage or whatever. )

    So it seems like it’s the 4s vs the 2s in terms of a calculus.

    2s seem to be a bigger issue by far.

  300. I should directly and wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who self-identifies as Liberal for my previous post. I should have said gun-control-advocates as I know full well there are plenty of liberals who properly appreciate the 2nd amendment.

  301. Your error is in believing that the world we live in is significantly different from a “high explosives are legal” world from the point of view of a terrorist. Sure, it’s different from your point of view, but the terrorist has a different cost function. What he’s doing is already so dangerous that the incremental risks of circumventing weapons or component bans barely even register.

    Except it is and why a lot of them get caught, die or simply go after softer targets (i.e. not over here). Messing around with peroxide based explosives (London) is more dangerous than using something stable like commercial/military high explosives.

    If commercial grade high explosives were readily available then the initial “danger” of being a terrorist bomber is no more than hitting amazon, waiting for fed ex. You’ve greatly simplified the logistic requirements for any terrorist attack. No need to import a bomb maker or be one. No need to deal with any dangerous chemical processes. High levels of quality control in the final product. Much higher probability of a boom. Lower risk of initial detection. Etc.

  302. …What gives you the right to tell these folks what they do or do not want on their books regarding concealed carry?…

    I have the right to tell them whatever I damn well please…and to any Aurora asshole that supports such an ordinance I say “fuck you, it’s unconstitutional, it’s illegal, it’s preempted, it should be removed.”

    There’s enough confusion about what is legal/illegal when it comes to LEO encounters. Having black & white text in the local lawbook that shouldn’t be there, adds to the confusion. Prune it out. I would hope that the local repeal process should force a notification of local LEOs.

  303. Vermont, for instance, lets anyone who can possess a gun legally, carry it concealed.

    Although it’s main distinction is having “Constitutional Carry” as some like to call it for a very long time (forever? As in it never joined the rest of the states in restricting concealed carry?). Above, Ken Burnside said it’s estimated that 4% of adults carry at some point during the day in its notoriously redneck environs.

    Recently Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming have joined it.

  304. >If commercial grade high explosives were readily available

    What makes you believe that, from a terrorist’s point of view, they aren’t? This is the same point Random832 is continually missing. I’m telling you that from the point of view of someone with a terrorist’s cost metrics, we already live in that world. Think costs at the margin.

  305. >Fancy that….wikipedia making a mistake…..whodathunkit?

    Wikipedia has a pretty noticeable lefty bias, I wouldn’t trust them on anything that has even a tangential relationship to politics.

    >What he’s doing is already so dangerous that the incremental risks of circumventing weapons or component bans barely even register.

    Or from Stossel’s new book, “It is hard to scare people who are willing to commit suicide for their cause.”

    John Stossel, No,They Can’t, p.252

  306. After posting, I noticed that Eric’s point and my Stossel quote are a bit disjoint; the point I was trying to make was that once a person reaches the point of being willing to die for a cause, any other risks become relatively minor.

    Society’s major protection is that most terrorists and criminals are stupid and lazy, or they wouldn’t be terrorists and criminals in the first place, so what we are left with having to actually deal with are occasional total crazies who aren’t stupid or lazy. Fortunately their detachment from reality usually interferes with their effectiveness, even if they are more effective than terrorists and criminals.

  307. Eric, I can’t believe you don’t get it. Gun free zones aren’t fantasy zones. They are accomplishing exactly what they are intended to accomplish–maximizing death counts so as to dehumanize gun owners.

  308. > His mother thinks he is “the right person.”

    Not according to her lawyer, who said she was calling HERSELF “the right person” when asked if her name was Arlene Holmes and did she have a son named James Holmes who lived in Aurora.

    The phone call from the reporter woke her from her sleep, and she knew nothing at all about the shooting or the allegation that her son was the shooter when she said “you have the right person” (on the phone). After that, the reporter told her about the shooting and she said she’d have to get to Colorado. The reporter then used the Ransom Note Method to make it sound like she had prior knowledge that her son was the sort likely to be a mass murderer.

    It’s rather reminiscent of the NBC Ransom Note Method used on Zimmerman’s 911 call to omit the operator asking the race of the suspect and make it sound as though Zimmerman said “he looks suspicious: he’s black” as if the fact of being black were some sort of explanation of the type of suspicious looks.

    Add Brian Ross’ smear of one of the other 26 people named James Holmes who live in or near Aurora simply because he had a post up on a TEA Party website, and you have a MainScream Media that deserves no trust whatsoever. I am more likely to believe a story in the National Enquirer than what these agenda-driven “journalists” tell me.

  309. Dan, I speak for every man, woman and child in North America, living, dead or to be born.

    And there is no chance that Aurora PD would think that they could enforce that ordinance last month, this month or next month. Zero. This isn’t in dispute in Aurora or Colorado.

  310. Then I stand corrected when I stated above in this thread that he had body armor. That will teach me to take the contents of a news article at face value without double checking.

    I wonder if the next thing to come out will be that he in fact did not have a 100+ round magazine for the AR-15. Having held an AR-15 before, the magazine in this photo doesn’t look like it would hold 100+ rounds to me.

  311. Jeremy, certainly skepticism is warranted. A lot of misinformation has circulated. However, what was reported was that a 100 rd C-Mag was found in the theater. The mag in the AR in the photo does look like a standard 30 rd magazine.

  312. >Having held an AR-15 before, the magazine in this photo doesn’t look like it would hold 100+ rounds to me.

    I know that AR-15 mags that big exist, but anything above 30 rounds is pretty difficult to lay hands on. My money is on the one in the photo being a 20 or 30-round mag.

  313. @esr That’s a 30 round magazine. A 20 round one would be shorter than the grip.

  314. I think the solution to this problem is not more gun control, no matter what people like Mike Bloomberg may think.

    The solution is not gun control. The “solution”, if there is one, is the death penalty. And it needs to be done promptly, not 10 years from now.

  315. “So much for the idiots insisting that a civilian shooter with a pistol couldn’t have taken him out (duh, like there’s no such thing as a head shot). One round. Just one round…”

    Given enough gun-barrels, all goblins are double-tappable.

  316. @Darrencardinal That will not work. You’re dealing with people who are not thinking rationally.

  317. >Wikipedia has a pretty noticeable lefty bias, I wouldn’t trust them on anything that has
    >even a tangential relationship to politics.

    To be fair to winter, though his claim was badly worded, what I believe he was referring to is that it appears that the “assault” category in the statistics for the US only include aggravated assault, where as the canadian and statistics appear to include all levels of assault, presumably including what in the US would be termed “simple assault”. Unfortunately there does not seem to be easily obtained data either combining US data with simple assault, or removing the simple assault charges from the other data. However I will note that despite the implication of the quoted wikipedia passage, the FBI statistics quoted do not require the use of a weapon or actual serious harm, merely the threat thereof: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/violent-crime/aggravatedassaultmain

    This still leaves out a category of simple assault from US statistics, but not nearly the gulf implied.

  318. Hunt Johnsen wrote: …many Americans still live where wildlife can be a threat. People in Alaska all carry in the bush, I’ve seen video of bears in Los Angeles, and there have been fatalities from mountain lions in California and Colorado. Coyotes are not unknown here in SoCal and are a threat to kids and domestic animals….

    As proven by photos taken by a friend of mine, black bears also roam about 1.5 hours drive from DC…

  319. As proven by photos taken by a friend of mine, black bears also roam about 1.5 hours drive from DC…

    I live in a suburb of NYC, about 30 minutes out (across the river in NJ). There is a black bear population in my town, and in surrounding towns as well. It’s been getting worse lately, the bears have been expanding their range into traditionally built-up areas (they’ve been encroaching on human habitat, not the other way around), so much so that my painfully liberal-dominated state has approved a bear hunt to reduce their numbers. Good thing, too.

    My wife and I have each independently spotted coyote (I really hope we both saw the same one, just on different occasions) within 100 yds of my front door. Part of me wants to cheer them on, they reduce numbers of office park geese by eating their eggs but coyotes are a threat to domestic animals and children, and in larger numbers can be a threat to adults.

    Half hour from NYC. Dangerous wild animals. Half hour from NYC.

  320. @SPQR – lol…OK….I hope you remember to paste any local mentions of wrongful arrests ….just in case you are wrong, of course. I have seen my fair share of such occurrences under exactly the same circumstances.

  321. Regarding the body armor that wasn’t, one thing that’s been bugging the shit out of me since this story hit the news is all the gun-grabbers claiming that the shooter was impervious to return fire because of this miraculous product that turned him into Iron Man, thus rendering anyone else’s weapons ineffective, and so no you can’t have a gun, you nasty tea-party racist homophobe, because you’ll just shoot your own eye out! Fox News! Rush Limbaugh! Privileged White Male! Patriarchy!

  322. >A donation to NRA or some other similar association (which one)?

    NRA actually supports a lot of gun control measures. Gun Owners of America (GOA) and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (jpfo.org) are both much better.

  323. @John D. Bell “””I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit — how could we (the relatively sane majority) have “noticed” that this guy was functionally insane solely on the basis of his public activities before the event? I’m fully in agreement that weapons-control laws (max. qty. of ammo, magazine size restrictions, no Internet sales, yadda, yadda, yadda) would not have helped.

    What would have helped?”””

    Ever since the Sixties, we’ve made it more difficult to commit people to asylum; the standard is currently “a danger to self and others”. It’s something we need to re-evaluate. A lot of people end up on the street homeless, or in jail for petty crimes, because of schizophrenea, and a refusal to be committed; some of these people show signs of problems, but aren’t found to be a danger until they do
    something like this.

    While it wouldn’t be a perfect panacea, and it may not have prevented this particular shooting (I don’t know if Holmes demonstrated enough reason to be committed, just yet…), having the mechanisms to commit people who aren’t yet clear dangers to themselves or others, but are showing just enough signs that they won’t be able to maintain a residence, or may be leaning towards a willingness to do harm, would go a long way to prevent tragedies like this.

    (And since we don’t want to commit *everyone*, or even people who will likely be pretty safe and provide for themselves, or at least are provided for, there will *always* be people who “slip through the cracks”.)

  324. @Winter: Oooh, the Statistics Game. This is always fun!

    Since we’re talking about the effectiveness of gun control laws, why don’t we do this? Remove the murders from Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and re-calculate murder rates per capitia, and compare them to Great Britain, which has complete gun control? (You have to keep London, because of this uniformity in gun laws, but we keep New Orleans, which if I recall correctly, has somewhat liberty-respecting gun laws, but is also rather murder-happy.)

    For that matter, I once heard someone make the claim that, when comparing Canada to the United States, if you stratify for different demographics (Canadian white vs US white, black vs black, Hispanic vs Hispanic, French vs French, etc.), the United States have a lower murder rate in each individual category, than Canada does. Because the United States have a higher percentage of demographics that have high murder rates, the total murder rate is higher than Canada’s; this statistical phenomenon is called “Simpson’s Paradox”.

    Finally, if we ignore the United States, and look at Great Britain, we can see that banning guns has *not* reduced violent crime, but violent crime has *increased* since the ban. Granted, that increase may have been caused by other factors–but since we’re always promised that banning guns will cause a decrease in gun violence, it isn’t helpful for the cause of trying to ban guns, that we have a counter-example to that claim.

    Winter: “””Guns are for killing. So I see gun use only in terms of number of people wounded or killed.”””

    So hundreds of millions of guns–*literally* hundreds of millions of guns–in America are defective, because they aren’t used to kill or wound a single person.

  325. “Ever since the Sixties, we’ve made it more difficult to commit people to asylum; the standard is currently “a danger to self and others”. It’s something we need to re-evaluate.”

    Re-evaluate all you want. The standard is as it should be in a free society.

  326. >Re-evaluate all you want. The standard is as it should be in a free society.

    Indeed, it should be no easier to involuntarily commit someone than it should be to put them in jail, as both are the same tool when it comes to suppressing your political enemies.

    No the true disease that has spread from the the 60′s (and honestly earlier) is the decline of the family as a social unit. And no, I’m not speaking of the christian “family” but family as in relations and friends (related by blood or not) whom you as an individual feel a personal and overriding responsibility towards. The symptoms are much the same as with gun control, a belief that our responsibilities not only can be outsourced to others, but that somehow we are owed that outsourcing. We think that our socially or physically incapable relatives should be able to be pawned off to an institution or to the state directly; we pawn off the education and care of our children to others as early as 3 years old, and sometimes earlier; we pawn off the care of our elderly parents to “assisted living homes.” Hell parents don’t even remain devoted to their own offspring as the number of single parent households attests to.

    No it isn’t fair to ask that the mother who devoted 18 years of her life caring for her child to continue to devote the remainder of her days to his care because he is disabled or otherwise unable to function in society; it’s not fair to ask that the 30 year old parents with young children be forced to care for their elderly parent with Alzheimer’s. But these actions are the things which glue society together. No one else will care as much or as well as you will for your loved ones, just as no one else will care as much or as well about you as yourself. Fairness doesn’t enter into the equation, only the need and the moral obligation you have as family.

    Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that every case needs to be managed solo, or that institutions, assisted living homes and the like aren’t good things to have. I am saying that these are tools that people need to use in the fulfillment of their obligations, not substitutes for their obligations. Nor am I suggesting that these obligations have or should have the weight of law. I am saying that that safety that Eric mentioned is an obligation of individual to provide to their families and loved ones extends beyond safety from the criminal elements of society.

  327. It is my belief that people who advocate for gun control are primarily useful idiots who desire government omnipotence in the use of force. This is an effective precursor to tyranny.

  328. @esr

    Chief Oats stated that the suspect was dressed all in black, wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistics vest, ballistic leggings, throat protector, groin protector, a gas mask, and black tactical gloves.

    http://kdvr.com/2012/07/20/video-aurora-police-chief-speaks-at-theater-shooting-press-conference/

    Unless you think he can’t tell the difference between a ballistic vest and a ammo vest I’m going with he had on some kind of armor underneath the vest.

    You can wear the blackhawk assault vest over armor and that is a selling point of the vest:

    “A complete system—adjustable for a comfortable fit over body armor. This heavy duty vest with pouches is designed especially for urban Law Enforcement and Tactical Operations.”

    http://www.officerstore.com/store/product.cfm/pid_6907_blackhawk_urban_assault_vest/

    Chief Oats confirmed a 100 rnd drum magazine at the 7pm conference.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFe-QWrPdNI&feature=related&noredirect=1

    Listening to the police audio the first officer in reported oc gas and needed masks to get into the theater. Movie was still playing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFuNDOQ3b-0&feature=related

    PD and FD dispatch did a great job.

  329. @Alpheus, @who –

    I have considered the mental health system (or lack thereof) in the US today. One of my brothers is a juvenile psychiatric nurse (he’s the supervisor in an in-patient hospital facility), and his wife is a behavioral health counselor; I get to hear about persons ranging from just not well adjusted to severely disturbed.

    Further, one of our rental properties was next to a group home for persons of various mental disabilities. (The group home closed; our rental survived.) One of the residents would wander the streets, talking loudly to himself (to us?), and he was obviously following some inner horror movie we would not want to share. (I once found him hiding in the corner of our neighborhood post office, pantomiming shooting a long arm, and mumbling about “f**k ‘em up the a**, f**k ‘em up the a**”.) He also once was found by my wife and her female worker in the back yard of that group home, with his pants dropped and crapping on the grass. About every other week, he would commit some minor crime, get busted and taken downtown, where he would stay overnight or maybe a couple of days, and then would get released back to the group home, which obviously wasn’t able to keep him in check, much less get him the help he desparately needed.

    Was he a “danger to himself and/or others”? My wife felt threatened; I was very uneasy being with him in the same small vestibule of the post office. Was there any place in the county he could be involuntarily confined? Not that I know of.

    This guy is still “out there”, but I don’t know exactly where. Could his behavior extend to the level of the Aurora CO tragedy? I doubt it, but I couldn’t guarantee it. If our society can’t even treat someone like this humanely and effectively, how could we possibly expect to do any better with ones like James Holmes?

  330. Huh…that FD audio should have just been a link. My bad, must have cut and pasted the wrong thing.

    Anyway, you didn’t prove that Holmes wasn’t wearing armor. Just that TacticalGear.com didn’t sell it to him. Or the helmet, throat and groin pieces either.

  331. “Was he a “danger to himself and/or others”?”

    yes. based on personal experience, the police should’ve called an ambulance to get him admitted as an EDP, not take him to jail.

    “then would get released back to the group home, which obviously wasn’t able to keep him in check, much less get him the help he desparately needed.”

    isn’t the funding of mental health care a different problem than relaxing the standard for committal?

  332. Chief Oats stated that the suspect was dressed all in black, wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistics vest, ballistic leggings, throat protector, groin protector, a gas mask, and black tactical gloves.

    Since the Aurora Police arrested him in the parking lot and had access to his car, and had many hours to catalog the shooter’s possessions prior to the press conference , I’d tend to believe their account of how he was dressed.

  333. @SPQR
    “Except I guess that didn’t really work out that well. ”

    Except that the man got a gun permit while being mentally ill. A gross error of the local police. You have to go back for decades to find your next example. The last German example was a young man who took the legal gun of his father. Gun laws are much less strict as they might seem.

    DOI laws are not perfect, but they reduce the number of people killed. Do you advocate the retraction of DOI laws because you cannot get each and every drunken driver?

    @all who say
    “If you remove urban drug gang crime from the equation, all other areas of USA and Europe are virtually identical, which is not terribly surprising considering the cultural similarity.”

    If you remove the same groups in Western Europe, there are still five times less homicides in WE than in the USA. A perfect example of the type of statistical hokey pokey I see here.

    And if you go for “ethnicity”, it is not that Canada or Europe do not have lower socio-economic strata that live in bad neighborhoods.

    Requiring they should be the exact same “ethnic” groups as in the USA is another statistical trick. Obviously, we have different ethnic groups in Europe than you have in the USA. It is just that Canada and WE are much more egalitarian societies. They actually try to use law enforcement to protect the disadvantaged groups instead of attempt to jail as many as possible.

    Another statistics. If the USA is so safe, why do they have 6% of their male population in jail or under probation/parole?
    “In total, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2009 — about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States

    “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/us/23prison.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

  334. >Another statistics. If the USA is so safe, why do they have 6% of their male population in jail or under probation/parole?

    Because since the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1960s, the jails are full of people who would previously have been in mental hospitals. When you compare the U.S.’s prison population to the size of the union of imprisoned and medically institutionalized people in other countries, the U.S. stops looking like an outlier.

  335. LOL @ winter is it because all your criminals belong to us ? /semi-sarc

    your criminals and defectives and also three main reasons – 1)war. 2)on. 3)drugs.

    your stats are bullshit anyway. and europe is one large city with occasional parkland and farmland, as far as I am concerned. You can fit most of Northern Western Europe in Montana where I live but we only have 800K people. In any case, you don’t need to worry about it for long since you are all going to be good little disarmed dhimmis in a few years anyway. Sux to be you.

  336. @BioBob
    “Sux to be you. [Europe]”

    Except that we seem quite happy to live here.

  337. @esr
    ” When you compare the U.S.’s prison population to the size of the union of imprisoned and medically institutionalized people in other countries, the U.S. stops looking like an outlier.”

    Nope, your juggling statistics again:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038490

    With a maximum (Japan) of 8 hospital beds per 1000 population, for all hospital beds, in any OECD country, there is no way you can fit 1% (USA prison population) of the population in mental hospitals. Especially as only 14% of hospital beds are used for mental illnesses.

    “Among OECD countries, the number of hospital beds per capita is highest in Japan and Korea, with over eight beds per 1 000 population in 2009 (Figure 4.3.1). Both Japan and Korea have “social admissions” , that is, a significant part of hospital beds are devoted to long-term care.”
    “The number of hospital beds per capita has decreased at least slightly over the past decade in most OECD countries, falling from 5.4 per 1 000 population in 2000 to 4.9 in 2009″

    http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/health_glance-2011-en/04/03/index.html;jsessionid=bo23tv0gw17s.delta?contentType=&itemId=/content/chapter/health_glance-2011-31-en&containerItemId=/content/serial/19991312&accessItemIds=/content/book/health_glance-2011-en&mimeType=text/html

  338. winter says “Except that we seem quite happy to live here.” says you ?

    UK ~ 380,000 emigrants per year
    Netherlands = ~ 123,000 emigrants(Nearly half of emigrants were native Dutch) per year
    France – you can hear the sucking sound as all the rich people are now leaving rofl
    so a few disagree with you. Why do I hear so many British accents around here ????

    etc — of course, most all the smart people left long ago, leaving the sheep behind
    yes yes, plenty of nice friendly Moroccans, Algerians & Turks coming to live and dance among the Tulips, and all those wondrous Pakistani’s to England – LOL good luck chump

  339. >Nope, your juggling statistics again:

    You say that and then give me statistics from Eastern Europe? Don’t make me laugh; political flimflam with those kinds of numbers is a hallowed tradition there.

    I think your OECD numbers are probably much more trustworthy for what they’re reporting, but I doubt “hospital beds” is the right measure – it’s not clear that this number includes sanatoriums, and whether it does might be a jurisdictional variable.

    I actually had a source for my claim, I didn’t pull it out of the air – but I didn’t know the point was going to be important so I didn’t keep it. I’ll do some searches to see what I can turn up. I think it might have been from a review of Clayton Cramer’s book “My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill”

    I do think the U.S. imprisons too many people, by the way. It’s ridiculous to jail nonviolent drug offenders.

  340. Interestintg debate. I’m French, rather pro-gun-control, but I’ll try to leave this bias aside(apologies if I miss). 3 comments :

    (1)I mostly agree with the original point. “gun free zone” are fantasies – unless you reach the level of population control of China/North Korea(probably the lone countries with nearly no gun access from civilians. Even most policemen in China are not allowed to carry firearms. When someone goes “Columbine” in China, he kills people with a knife, and police stops him with sticks). Other than that, the gun goes through. In France, with an heavy gun control & 65M inhabitants, estimates are around 30M firearms. As much as I like the gun control, I have to acknowledge that it does not reduce the number of weapons(I will not debate about effect on crime, reason below).

    (2)Those incidents, as tragic as they are, are just statistical noise. In France, I can see only Richard Durn in 2002(8 deaths, 14 injured), and maybe Mohammed Merah this spring(but he was a terrorist, that’s another kind of fish in my book). There are more, here & there, but with 30,000 deaths by firearms yearly in the USA, and 1,000 in France, those big events are failing on us. They don’t prove anything. Good law(and constructive comments) should take in account the mass numbers to protect the most people possible, not take statistical noise. Those thousands are to be the centre of our attention, not those 12 – as tragic as their death may seem.

    (3)As Others said, it’s a religious debate, mostly. It means that people speak about their identity. Identity of gun-owners for the ones, of violence repellers for the others(probably including me). Identity may be a good thing, but it tends to obscure the judgement(that’s why I won’t give my opinion on gun-control impact on crime here : I’m probably as biased as everyone). Paul Graham’s advice “keep your identity low” is one of the best I’ve ever heard(others being “have no fear”, “work on foreign languages” and “visit the town of Roussillon”). It allows to quietly think about a topic without being blinded by emotions.

    It’s unfortunate to see Winter victim of namecalling here. that is opinion is laughed at(deservedly or not, I will not judge) is part of the game, but name calling is not.

    PS : here we get rid of bears with cars, or pots of honey filled with broken glass. Works well.

  341. @esr
    “You say that and then give me statistics from Eastern Europe? Don’t make me laugh; political flimflam with those kinds of numbers is a hallowed tradition there.”

    The paper disproved the connection between asylum inmates and prison inmates. Closed sanatoriums and mental wards are counted as hospital beds. And East German statistics have been scrutinized well enough to believe them.

    The USA has 1% of its male population jailed, 6% under legal control. There is no way that German and French mental wards will bridge that gap.

    Btw, I understand that the jailing in the USA is not so much a substitute for mental wards, but for decent social security. Where other developed countries supply basic support for those without means of income, the USA jails them.

  342. @el slapper
    “It’s unfortunate to see Winter victim of namecalling here.”

    Thanks for the support. However, I completely ignore namecalling. It is just a ritual prevalent in some societies, like emoticons ;-)

    Observe that Europeans talk about safety and security, USA Americans talk about possible uses of guns. That does not leave much ground for consensus.

  343. Yes, winter, of course ‘mericans NEVER discuss safety and security. We are just too busy looking for targets, angles of attack, cover, etc. and making sure we have enough loaded magazines and backup weapons. /sarc

    here is perhaps why so MANY euros discuss safety and security:
    On 27 April a Dutch judge ruled that Hirsi Ali had to abandon her highly secure house at a secret address in the Netherlands: her neighbors had complained that living next to her was an unacceptable security risk to them, although the police had testified in court that it was one of the safest places in the country due to the large number of personnel they had assigned there.[43] In early 2007 she stated that the Dutch state had spent about 3.5 million euros providing armed guards for her, and the threats made her live “in fear and looking over my shoulder”, but she was willing to endure this for the sake of speaking her mind.

    And then they kicked her out, neh ? Was she still a member of your parliament ?

    Sure is curious that Ayaan Hirsi Ali lives in the USA now, isn’t it ? LOL

  344. Btw, I understand that the jailing in the USA is not so much a substitute for mental wards, but for decent social security. Where other developed countries supply basic support for those without means of income, the USA jails them.

    And this sort of thing is why people call Winter names. Do tell, how did you come to that understanding?

  345. Frankly, I’m still not entirely sure of the ratio of pure stupidity to deliberate trolling in Winter’s “facts” and “understandings”.

  346. @BioBob
    “Sure is curious that Ayaan Hirsi Ali lives in the USA now, isn’t it ? LOL”

    How about Salman Rushdi? His story is like that of Ayaan. It is just that the UK has a bigger purse than the Netherlands.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali got into troubles with her own political party, after problems with her asylum request surfaced (or were dug up). The whole parliament supported her stay, but she thought she could get a better future in the USA.

    A lot of the problems were caused by the fact that until 2002, we had not seen political murders for three centuries. Moreover, we never had to supply this level of security to a single person. Hirsi Ali had better security than the queen. And most of the threats came from abroad (like with Salman Rushdi).

    The amount of power and fame Ayaan has now would have been impossible had she stayed in the Netherlands. Maybe that was part of the reason she emigrated?

  347. pots of honey filled with broken glass

    …Ugh. If you’ve got guns, this seems inhumane to me. Maybe. I’m judging mostly on the basis of if you did that to a person. What’s the effect on bears? Makes them unhappy and find another place? If it kills them by internal bleeding, I think I’d prefer shooting them.

  348. Winter writes: “DOI laws are not perfect, but they reduce the number of people killed. Do you advocate the retraction of DOI laws because you cannot get each and every drunken driver?

    Sadly, I am disappointed, Winter. I have grown attached to seeing much better arguments from you. DUI (as we term it here) ie., driving under the influence, is criminalizing behavior, not possession of a firearm. I do oppose laws criminalizing the possession by law abiding people of firearms that only a tiny minority would abuse, because of their ineffectiveness. I don’t oppose criminalizing conduct like driving under the influence because it fails to deter all instances of the criminal conduct.

  349. And Winter, I’m not sure why you wrote this: “Btw, I understand that the jailing in the USA is not so much a substitute for mental wards, but for decent social security. Where other developed countries supply basic support for those without means of income, the USA jails them.

    You know the utter falsity of that statement.

  350. The stupidity of gun control advocates is shown by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy calling for a ban on online ammunition sales. But I repeat myself.

    As if that’s all that enabled Holmes to conduct his attack, that he was able to buy some ammo via mail instead of Walmart.And the outrage about his possession of 6000 rounds is just as stupid. Since he probably fired no more than 200, those 5800 left over are also meaningless.

    But its the kind of irrationality we continue to see among gun control advocates in this country.

  351. @SPQR
    “DOI”

    You say our gun control laws are not working because they do not get every nutcase. But so do our, and your, DUI laws. It is all a matter of effectiveness.

    @SPQR
    “You know the utter falsity of that statement.”

    I have seen pretty decent people arguing this statement. Even non-Americans who have no position in the USA debate.

    The argument makes much more sense than the reasons stated by the proponents of jail sentences. Young men without a job are the nucleus of gangs, war lords, and rebellions. As such it even makes some twisted political sense to support them in jail io outside jail.

    And you would have a tough case to make to pretend USA law enforcement protects and serves those at the bottom of the socio-economic strata. A lot of crime in these circles is a kind of judicial self help, as the courts seem to rather jail a victim who reports a crime than help him/her.

  352. >I do think the U.S. imprisons too many people, by the way. It’s ridiculous to jail nonviolent drug offenders.

    Its the natural outgrowth of outsourcing prison management and unionizing prison guards, there is fairly strong lobbying in favor of increasing imprisonment, so you can expect to see more of it. And after the growth of violent crime in the seventies and eighties nearly all politicians are trying not to appear “soft on crime”, any “crime” violent or not.

  353. Winter on Wednesday, July 25 2012 at 9:36 am said:

    I’m afraid your comment is making less sense. You utterly ignore the distinction between criminalizing possession of a tool and criminalizing conduct. And your comments about jailing victims makes less sense than the comment you purport to explain.

  354. I do think the U.S. imprisons too many people, by the way. It’s ridiculous to jail nonviolent drug offenders.

    It’s also an effect of delegitimizing the cash economy. At one time most of those people would have had jobs that paid by the hour in cash. Now with payroll taxes and labor regulations they cost too much relative to the value of their labor. We still have demand for that labor, but the market has gone underground where citizens operate with handicaps.

    It’s the same effect as raising minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage increases unemployment.

  355. @SPQR
    ” You utterly ignore the distinction between criminalizing possession of a tool and criminalizing conduct.”

    Our laws do not make that difference. That is not completely true. Being in the possession of a gun without a permit is a criminal offense. DUI is not (always?) a crime.

    @SPQR
    “And your comments about jailing victims makes less sense than the comment you purport to explain.”

    Could be. However, I never could make sense out of penal policies in the USA. Except as a way to get angry young men off the streets and out of the voting box.

  356. The idea that US jails are filled with convicted nonviolent possessors of drugs is really a complete myth.

  357. Winter, I’m beginning to become frustrated. Is the issue one of language? Are we failing to communicate ?

  358. @SPQR
    ” Are we failing to communicate ?”

    I think so.

    So we should switch the subject. I am not an American, so my knowledge is third or fourth hand anyway. But I am still puzzled why the USA seems it important to keep 1% of their male population in jail, and even more under probation, parole etc..

  359. My sincere apologies then, Winter. No disrespect intended as your English is so good (not least in comparison to my nonexistent Dutch) that I sometimes assume you are following conversations better than perhaps you are. That is my fault entirely.

  360. Peter, its a ridiculous and fraudulent statistic. Jason Alexander the actor put it in a twit and its been retweeted. Its orders of magnitude greater than reality. And an example of the grotesque exaggeration and detachment from reality typical of gun control advocates in this country.

  361. > Peter, its a ridiculous and fraudulent statistic.

    Agreed, I’m just wondering whether anyone had actually come up with some data (however misrepresented it might be), or whether the number was just pulled out of someone’s orifice.

  362. I always wanted a porcelain assault gun….to match my porcelain throne. Can I get one with an extra lethal clip of bullets?

  363. @Peter – after trawling Mr. Alexander’s twitter feed and his original post, it does seem that rectal linguistics is heavily implicated

  364. @esr
    >your duty as an adult male human being.
    >My duty further includes risking and (in imaginable circumstances) sacrificing my life

    Do you have any rational grounds for this belief ? A rational explanation as to why this should be so ?

  365. >Do you have any rational grounds for this belief ? A rational explanation as to why this should be so ?

    Yes. I’ve explained it many times on this blog.

  366. >Yes. I’ve explained it many times on this blog.
    Must ‘ve missed those, then.
    any links ? or significant words or phrases that would return good results in a search ?

  367. >During the Aurora shooting, three men took bullets for their girlfriends. No woman stopped a bullet for her boyfriend. This was unsurprising and correct behavior.

    What do you mean by correct? This sounds like you believe because something is evolutionary beneficial it is ethical, but this would justify (as a extreme example) using political power to murder people not related to you.

  368. >but this would justify (as a extreme example) using political power to murder people not related to you.

    Only if you think murdering people not related to you doesn’t have consequences that are likely to affect your reproductive success and that of your near kin. In the real world this … usually isn’t the case.

  369. This incident is evoking a lot of interesting hypotheticals that may be instructive. For example, it now appears that the killer’s actions were premeditated, well planned, and intended to accomplish significant harm. If he had attempted to trap the movie patrons (think Inglorious Basterds), then a different dynamic may have evolved. At some point, the 200 plus patrons (even if unarmed) would have had to initiate some type of group assault in order to stop him from methodically picking them off one at a time. This type of desperate sacrificial counterattack is often initiated by a single actor making a loud banzai-type charge directly into the threat. The military teaches a similar type of response in ambush situations. Although this is an anti-intuitive behavior, it may derive from primal programming in our DNA.

  370. “some of us have spent years training for these situations, thinking about them, and practicing responses precisely because we believe it is our duty and our honor to protect others. ”

    I completely agree that well trained and armed people are a help in maintaining a peacable society. I also believe that I have a duty to act in an emergency in a way that minimizes harm to innocents. Unfortunately, I also think that number of people who are willing to put in the time and effort to maintain a level head in a crisis are vastly outnumbered by people who are prone to fits of irrationality (I think every election in the US proves this point). So, the higher the proportion of people who have guns, the higher the likelihood that an enraged baboon will be an armed idiot. There is also a higher likelihood that a well trained person will be around in a crisis. I would very much like to see the statistics on these probabilities. There must be a local minima to the function of gun violence and rates of gun ownership that can be influenced by having better training for people who want guns, and making it harder for baboons to get guns. It is obvious to me that the global minimum death rate must be zero if there were no guns at all (like the death rate by Szkizzit is zero because Szkizzits haven’t been invented yet.). What I also want to know is the shape of the curve of gun violence versus proportion of armed citizenry (is it monotonic or not?).
    The sad part is that the political hype surrounding this issue makes finding good data difficult. I’d like some good studies on what portion of crimes are stopped by guns. Another sad part is that we have ~30 gun related homicides every day in the US (~10,000 per year (http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/welcome.htm). Yet 12 people in one spot dominates the news for weeks.

    By the way, like any juicy political topic, the number of posts is overwhelming. So, please forgive me if I’m repeating something someone else has already covered.

  371. >This type of desperate sacrificial counterattack is often initiated by a single actor making a
    >loud banzai-type charge directly into the threat. The military teaches a similar type of
    >response in ambush situations. Although this is an anti-intuitive behavior, it may derive from
    >primal programming in our DNA.

    I imagine the resistance to a counter attack in these situations, in addition to deriving from shock and fear probably also derives from the same source as the “bystander effect”. When other people are around, we diffuse our responsibilities in the hopes that someone else will take them and the associated risks. That’s probably also why when these stories come out, you will hear of people who heroically stood in the line of fire to protect their immediately threatened loved ones, but you don’t often hear of these same people charging the fire in an attempt to save everyone. Saving everyone is (for most people, most of the time) someone else’s job, but at least for now, we still ingrain in people that saving your loved ones is your job. Note however, that even this is not an immutable internal imperative as some left their loved ones to flee.

  372. If motivations don’t trump results and consequences, then hitting someone in an unavoidable automobile accident is assault and battery, and if they die, it’s murder and should be punished as murder. Do you people really want a strict-liability world like that? The distinction between intentional acts, negligent acts, and accidents is entirely a matter of motivation, and it is fundamental to any civilized law. Even the Icelanders knew the difference between murder and manslaying.

    Matt L.: As a self-described enraged baboon, I entirely agree with you. For me to arm myself would be an act of public endangerment.

    esr: You have no right to enter any non-public space you don’t already own. (Libertarians are against public spaces anyway, so that shouldn’t bother you.) If part of the contract that admits you to someone else’s private space is “No eating or drinking outside food” (common in movie theaters for sound commercial reasons), you have three choices: give up the food, stay out, or try to renegotiate. A counteroffer like “I’ll come in without my food if you accept unlimited liability for any damage I might suffer from starvation” is going to be rejected by the property owner with anything from incomprehension to scorn. He needs your business, but not that much. “No guns” is not any different. If I don’t like your face, I don’t have to let you in my house, period. If you do go in unarmed and get hurt, you might sue for negligence, but I think you’d be non-suited: see the first paragraph.

  373. Peter Davies writes: “What do you mean by correct? This sounds like you believe because something is evolutionary beneficial it is ethical, but this would justify (as a extreme example) using political power to murder people not related to you.”

    What is it with the raft of bad faith putting-words-in-others-mouths like this?

    John Cowan, in your analogy regarding motivations, I think you are missing the point and arguing a different context entirely.

  374. To go back to Eric’s original post:

    > Two fantasies caused that massacre. The obvious one was James Holmes’s delusional identification with the Joker. The less obvious one was the pious belief that wishing firearms out of sight will keep bad people from doing bad things.

    To pick a not-insignificant nit: there is a category error here.

    Whatever one thinks about gun policy, to say that a belief (pious or otherwise) about “keeping firearms out of sight” caused this massacre is simply not supportable.

    You might say (as commenters here have asserted) that if other patrons were armed they might have limited the deaths by killing or disabling the perpetrator. That statement (while contestable) is at least the basis of an argument.

    But a “belief” held by anyone other than the perpetrator did not cause him to do the things he did and did not cause the massacre.

    We should not be surprised I suppose that Eric will always put his propagandist’s spin on even such a distasteful argument as this.

    I

  375. @SPQR
    “No disrespect intended as your English is so good (not least in comparison to my nonexistent Dutch)”

    Thanks, but if you might have any plans, do not learn Dutch. Take a more useful language like Mandarin.

    @SPQR
    “that I sometimes assume you are following conversations better than perhaps you are.”

    The problem is one at the foundations of language. A word never just “means” something. It always has connotations and associations, some of them political. It has a pragmatic use in conversations and debates.

    Where things go wrong badly is when I stumble upon words that are used in long term heated political fights, when I am not aware of those controversies. Then suddenly, a formerly neutral word like “community”, has become politically charged and my reader thinks I am supporting some political agenda I never even heard of.

    @SPQR
    “That is my fault entirely.”

    I insist that the error is mine.

  376. >But a “belief” held by anyone other than the perpetrator did not cause him to do the things he did and did not cause the massacre.

    No? I take it, then, that you think Holmes would preferentially have chosen to shoot up, say, a police station or a pistol range, rather than a “gun-free zone”.

    Generally, if you hang a dripping hank of red meat in front of a dog, and the dog bites it, you will be considered a cause of the dog’s behavior.

  377. Is there any evidence that Holmes saw the sign or knew in any way of its existence? If not, its presence is irrelevant to his behavior.

  378. ESR,

    “Your error is in believing that the world we live in is significantly different from a “high explosives are legal” world from the point of view of a terrorist. ”

    Maybe I am missing something entirely obvious, but we are living in a world which is is significantly different from a “high explosives are legal” world from the point of view of an irresponsible manufacturer or vendor who would just sell them to anyone who comes by and has cash, however is rational, normally law-abiding and sufficently deterred by hefty fines or threats of prison and can be motivated to pick their customers. Isn’t it so? Am I missing something?

  379. @esr

    If that is how you wish to treat causation, then how does one distinguish it from the sort of argument that says that a retailer who supplies the perpetrator with firearms or ammunition “caused” the massacre?

  380. There is responsability, there is risk, and there is guiltyness. If a nice-looking girl with a short skirt goes at 2 am in a risky zone, and ends up raped

    (1) She obviously took a risk
    (2) Wether she is responsible or not is subject to debate(I think not, but the other opinion is perfectly defendable)
    (3) She is obviously not guilty. Rapist is.

    Here, the same questions are asked. If the no-gun area is not systematically enforced(and I cannot imagine chinese-style systematic controls in a US theatre), then the risk of a deliberate shooting probably increases : good guys will respect the board, bad guys will not.

    On the other side, theatre manager is not guilty : he did not take a gun to kill people.

    The interesting question is, is he responsible(of endangering customers)? My answer lies on my “probably” above. The risk of a deliberate shooting obviously increases(though it’s impossible to know by how much), but, at the same time, the risk of a accident(manipulation error, unwanted shoot) decreases. Good guys may not shoot at unarmed people on purpose, yet they are human beings, prone to errors.

    I have no statistic data to back up both probabilities. Without them, I will not answer the question. I will just give the 3 main possible answers :
    (1)accidents are scarce, and shootings are frequent, and oftent in gun-free zones. The manager is responsible(but not guilty). He’s got to be fired & sued.
    (2)accidents are common, and shootings are scarce, and happe usually outside gun-free zones. The manager did what he had to do. Just he had bad luck
    (3)both accidents and shootings are scarce. The impact of the gun-free zone, though real, is limited. Manager did roll the dices, he lost, but could have won(the trick is, we’ll never know, forcasting accidents accurately is not easy, to stay polite).

    My uneducated guess is (3), but probability of me being wrong is 2/3.

  381. Here in Italy,it is not an easy task for anyone to possess legally any firearm (even for hunting ).Perhaps we never experimented a mass shooting like this one but nevertheless is an easy task for a criminal to find and use any sort of firearm.So I think that to forbid or strongly regulate the trading or using of firearms,is not of real utility.

  382. My experience.

    When I lived in my country (Argentina), at my parents’ home we had a lot of weapons, some of them unregistered (legally they did not exist). I never payed too much attention to them, most were my brother’s, a very fearful, full of complexes and insecure guy.

    Living in Sud America you may think that we must use them every day. The true is that we needed them just in two occasions.

    One day I saw a guy jumping to my terrace roof, he was the brother of my neighbor’s tenant, both very dangerous guys that had been in jail. The fact was that I couldn’t find where my brother had hidden the fucking guns :-), so I must face the guy unarmed, luckily he was unarmed too.

    In the second occasion, one summer night, that I did not sleep at home, some thieves got in the home climbing the tree in front of my bedroom window; they robed money to my brother (he was sleeping with his girlfriend), down stairs robed money to my parents and finally, using the keys hanged by the door, they got out using the principal entry. My brother realized of what had happened when he woke up in the morning :-).

    My advice is: not use guns. One day you can loose your nerves (when you don’t measure of your acts) and do the worst (even against you family). If you have them to defend your home take in care that the thieves work around 4:00, 5:00 AM, when you are in the deeper dream, if your are lucky you will not hear them, but if you do you will be so dizzy (especially in a summer down) that even if you know how to use guns you will be at a big disadvantage. Be sure the thieves, instead, will be awake and alert (cocaine + adrenaline). All this happen in seconds. Besides, I don’t know USA laws, but a neighbor of mine (policeman) killed a thief “inside” his home and go to jail. Finally, if you have children you must hide them (see above :-)). The sun of a famous argentine guitarist, Cacho Tirao, kill himself playing with the father’s gun.

    Erik, you have video games like last resource :-).

    roquesor dot com

  383. “There must be a local minima [sic] to the function of gun violence and rates of gun ownership that can be influenced by having better training for people who want guns, and making it harder for baboons to get guns.”

    “Gun violence” is the wrong metric. If a woman uses a gun to kill a man who is “only” threatening her with a knife so that he can rape her, that should not be statistically conflated with an aggressor using the gun violently. Such an act of “gun violence” is in fact a good thing for society, because it removes from us a person who is willing to commit forcible rape. (I have to qualify with “forcible” because “statutory rape” has edge cases that don’t deserve to share the same name.)

    We must be careful not to accept faulty framing like this.

    The notion of finding some sort of minimum is valid, however. It is at the root of “That government governs best which governs least”, which can be re-worded to say “That government governs best which reduces to the minimum possible the extent to which human interaction is governed by force.” When formal goverment does not act to fight aggression in some form, it allows a class of interaction governed by the aggressor’s use of force, except to the extent that the citizenry can defend against it.

    In the absence of any formal government whatsoever, there will be a base level of interactions governed by force. In a police state, all interactions will be governed by force. Minarchists seek that minimum level of formal government that suppresses aggression without becoming aggression itself.

  384. Matt L., you have two errors in your hinting:

    1) There is no way to make it harder for baboons to get guns. Period. Even under our current, unacceptable gun laws, they can still get them any time they want them. Stiffening the gun laws only disarms more honest citizens.

    2) There is no such thing as “gun violence’. Guns are not violent. People are.

  385. >If that is how you wish to treat causation, then how does one distinguish it from the sort of argument that says that a retailer who supplies the perpetrator with firearms or ammunition “caused” the massacre?

    Because, when we look at actual outcomes, criminal violence is not the result to be expected when selling someone one a firearm. Perhaps the point will be clearer if we distinguish the case where a retailer sells a firearm to someone he knows is a criminal deviant; then we are in a case parallel to putting up a “gun-free zone” sign.

    In law, it’s called a “reasonable-person” test.

  386. Speaking purely as an outsider, I see more sense and logic in pro-weapon group than in the other.

    Quite frankly, until the anti-gun group has a foolproof guaranteed way to make sure the criminals or anybody determined enough to own a weapon can never lay their hands on guns in fact, I think it makes no sense to restrict weapons by law.

    Stripped of the emotions and other political undertones: the anti-gun group seems reactionary and needs serious rethink on the reasons why they oppose weapons. The pro-gun group seems more far-thinking in this respect. I see no answer to the question posed above that how really determined criminals or other bad-intentioned persons will be guaranteed to be weaponless under all circumstances.

    I believe that the fellows who go on a shooting rampage would be ten times less likely to do so if they knew that they would face a possibly armed and prepared opposition. Mentally disturbed or not, psychotic or not, when it comes to a base instinct for survival I think they’re likely to keep their tails tucked firmly between their legs.

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of the world’s terrorists are voluntary suicide-bombers…

  387. @hari
    “I believe that the fellows who go on a shooting rampage would be ten times less likely to do so if they knew that they would face a possibly armed and prepared opposition.”

    The old name of this behavior is “running amok”. Amok from the Malay meaning “mad with uncontrollable rage” is an old concept. For all practical considerations, those running amok are committing suicide. They do not intend to survive their killing spree. Whether or not their opponents are armed is irrelevant, as long as they can kill at least some people.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_amok

    So your reasoning here is just as ill informed as the rest of your comment.

  388. @Winter: So your reasoning here is just as ill informed as the rest of your comment.

    What evidence is there that the outburst is uncontrolled? The person who goes on such a rampage might simply be enjoying the kiling of innocents for fun. I know that’s a tough reality for many people to face up to, but a lot of so-called psychos aren’t uncontrollably mad with rage: in my humble view, they seem to be cold-blooded and calculating and enjoying the process of causing maximum damage with their weapon fire.

    Recall the Mumbai horror of 2008 (a.k.a. 26/11) and that it was a pre-planned terrorist strike with fanatics going on a gun rampage. You could argue that every one of those terrorists were psychos, but see how strongly Ajmal Kasab defends himself in court and that he’s just a man like everybody else.

    I know this is not an actual terror attack, but this mindset of running amok is not as simple as a man with uncontrolled rage on a suicide mission.

  389. Winter, the kind of incident we are discussing here really has no parallel to running amok. These schizophrenic shooters have a different mentality and often they do fold up upon resistance. Note that Holmes gave up without a fight to responding police.

  390. Had a conversation with my mom the other day…
    “He had a semi-automatic weapon! Nobody should be allowed to have those. There is no reason to have one except killing people.”
    “Look, Mom, do you really think they can enforce a ban like that? We don’t live isolated from the rest of the world, there’s an illegal international arms trade, you’re not going to get rid of all the guns in America. There’s just no way to make that practical.”

    The really awkward thing about these conversations is that if you say the wrong thing you can come across as an apologist for murder. Because that’s exactly what you want — for people you love to think you WANT lunatics to shoot up movie theaters. How do you make it clear that “No, I am not sympathizing with murderers or in favor of enabling murderers, I just don’t think prohibition is a practical safety measure?” You’re associated with the bad guys as soon as you say something positive about guns. It gets read as being insufficiently empathetic to the victims. Or worse, having a perverse affinity for violence. (Which I don’t! I can’t even watch violent movies without closing my eyes at the gory parts!)

  391. > The really awkward thing about these conversations is that if you say the wrong thing you can come across as an apologist for murder.

    Thinking about it, I think it’s the society’s brainwashed mindset that chooses to relinquish responsibility at the altar of Government and choose to wash its hands off incidents like these, blame the Government or authorities for the lack of security, and then hold useless candle-light vigils for the victims. Unfortunately sentiment trumps everything else.

    Since the terror attacks of Mumbai, I really have changed my mind in regard to weapons in the hands of public. I think far more good, responsible individuals being legally armed would be a good thing and the positives would outweigh the negatives.

  392. The really awkward thing about these conversations is that if you say the wrong thing you can come across as an apologist for murder. Because that’s exactly what you want — for people you love to think you WANT lunatics to shoot up movie theaters. How do you make it clear that “No, I am not sympathizing with murderers or in favor of enabling murderers, I just don’t think prohibition is a practical safety measure?”

    Someone on Eric’s G+ page wrote the perfect response to this sort of thing the other day:

    The correct response to your bafflement, then, should be for you to say to yourself, “I notice that I am confused,” and then go back and figure out where you lost the plot. The fact that (most likely) no one will help you is a feature.?

    You may need to rephrase slightly if you’re arguing with your mother, but the thought should be the same :-)

  393. Slightly off-topic: I went to the pistol range yesterday for the first time in almost five years. I was there for about an hour and fired 100 rounds. I’m still a terrible shot. Had I been shooting better, I’d have been shooting faster and could have gone through 150 or maybe even 200 rounds in that hour. In light of that, the 6000 rounds that Holmes had doesn’t seem like an unreasonably large stockpile. I’d love to have 6000 rounds. Maybe then I could get enough practice shooting to not be a terrible shot. When I consider scenarios like a group of friends having a ‘shooting day’ the local range and all sharing the same pool of ammo, 6000 seems even less unreasonable.

    After this massacre and the news media reporting Holmes had 6000 rounds of ammo, a thought that worries me is gun control advocates attempting legislation that sets some sort of restriction on ammunition. Anything from a limit on how much can be purchased at once, to a limit on how much one can possess would be undesirable. A naive person who’s never fired a gun and thus doesn’t know how easy it is to quickly to go through ammo at the range would likely support a law criminalizing possession of more than 100 rounds without a second thought.

  394. @sarah Folks always fear what they don’t know. Folks, even highly intelligent ones, can be irrational about pet topics. So the answer is don’t get into it because it’s typically not worth the trouble because it’s not a logical disagreement but an emotional one.

    So unless you shoot a lot and can say “Gee mom, I’ve never shot anyone, don’t you trust me?” (which still has a high chance of failure) folks that have never held or even seen a gun outside of movies or on a cop will fear this evil piece of metal with no purpose but to kill things.

    You can provide statistics, yadda yadda yadda and there won’t be any reasoning with them because that’s not where source of the disagreement lies.

    The converse is true with die hard gun types that blather on about the RKBA and no regulation or registration should be allowed. No rational discussion regarding any limitation on gun ownership is possible without them accusing you of being either sheeple or an enemy of liberty (where have I heard that phrase?). In many ways it’s worse if you shoot because you’re not some “idiot yankee liberal” but a traitor and maybe even an ATF informant…

    You may think it’s bad for loved ones to think you have a perverse affinity for violence but it’s probably worse when heavily armed zealots think you’re a traitor.

    Again, emotion and not reason are at the heart of these polar positions.

  395. >I know this is not an actual terror attack, but this mindset of running amok is not as simple as a man with uncontrolled rage on a suicide mission.

    Correct. I often think one of the reasons many people insist on describing terrorists as simple psychotics is as a form of psychological distancing – it makes them too uncomfortable to think that the behavior of terrorists may follow from premises that are not actually too unlike those of “normal” people.

    This is particularly true of religious terrorists, so it’s appropriate that you brought up Mumbai. Yes, they’re delusionally insane, but only in the socially acceptable way that all religious believers are delusionally insane (“I have a special private source of revelation about the nature of the universe that cannot be falsified by external evidence.”). Binning them as “psychotics” is a neat way to avoid noticing that if one really believes the premises of their religions their behavior is not only reasonable but almost mandatory.

  396. I was responding to:
    “I believe that the fellows who go on a shooting rampage would be ten times less likely to do so if they knew that they would face a possibly armed and prepared opposition.”

    That is a perfect description of running amok. I believe the USA term is “Going Postal”. A terrorist attack is different. For one, terrorists are not psychotic. For people running amok, that is more difficult to decide.

    If you want to discuss terrorist attacks, my comments on people going postal are irrelevant.

  397. Nigel, I’m willing to discuss gun control proposals only after you prove that you’re not just seeking to shove the camel’s nose into the tent. We’ve been burned badly by that for so long that insisting on such proof is the only way to not give the gun grabbers an excuse to say “Even gun nuts agree with me!”.

  398. >Nigel, I’m willing to discuss gun control proposals only after you prove that you’re not just seeking to shove the camel’s nose into the tent.

    +1

    The situation isn’t symmetrical. Only one side has spent decades engaged in salami-slicing, dissembling, and systematic lying about both facts and intentions.

  399. To echo Jay and esr, the problem with “reasonable restrictions” on guns is the same as the problem with “reasonable restrictions” on free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, privacy and any other civil rights. Even the most ardent RKBA person can likely agree that a person involuntarily committed should not have a gun (to a degree of course, as committing an individual has been a tool of oppressors in the past), but the problem is when you’re talking about government policies, “slippery slope” isn’t a logical fallacy, it’s a law of nature. And given the number of “reasonable restrictions” already on the RKBA, the fact that until relatively recently they had been increasing to no positive effect, and the fact that many of those are poorly enforced or actively subverted (hello Fast and Furious), it is understandable that the default position is “No more restrictions”

  400. @tmoney:

    it is understandable that the default position is “No more restrictions”

    Absolutely.

    To echo Jay and esr, the problem with “reasonable restrictions” on guns is the same as the problem with “reasonable restrictions” on free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, privacy and any other civil rights.

    Right. But to be clear, we do have “reasonable restrictions” on those other things. For speech, you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater, and you can’t defame others, and reasonable sign ordinances have withstood constitutional scrutiny. For religion, as Eric pointed out in a recent post, you are not allowed to burn widows, and as the Florida DMV has made clear, no, you can’t have your driver’s license photo taken while wearing your burka.

  401. >And given the number of “reasonable restrictions” already on the RKBA,

    That reminds me of several reports of polls that I read in the late 1990s. When asked if they wanted more controls on guns, people said yes. When asked about specific policies, they mostly supported ones that were less restrictive than the ones already in place.

  402. >Right. But to be clear, we do have “reasonable restrictions” on those other things.

    The politics of those restrictions is less poisoned, because the people advocating them don’t in general have a long history of both demagogic lying about the objective facts and dissembling about their intentions.

    For your analogy to hold, advocates of laws banning suttee would have to have had a public habit of making statements extremely bigoted against Hindus, dismissing them as violent inbred morons. The fundraising propaganda of their organizations should have said that banning suttee is only a way station to banning all Hindu observances. Also there should have been a long history of academic studies linking Hinduism to criminal violence that were sloppy and fraudulent but uncritically repeated by the media.

  403. @jay I don’t buy the camel’s nose/slippery slope arguments especially after Heller.

    I think there is reasonable middle ground for regulation that most Americans feel appropriate. We’re in a fairly balanced place now but a little tweaking in light of what happened might be good just like after Virginia where reporting problems allowed Cho to buy guns despite being declared mentally ill.

    @esr From my perspective the extremes of both ends of the debate are symmetrical. The extreme end of gun control proponents are little different than the extreme gun rights advocates (some off the deep end militia).

    And don’t tell me that opportunists on both sides don’t engage in systematic lying to further their own ends (usually votes, money or ratings).

    Take for example all the bleating about the assault rifle ban going to eventually result in all guns getting banned. Or about how Obama was going to take all of our guns and ammo (leading to excessively stupid ammo prices for a while). There’s a lot of stuff said to play to the fears of gun owners. That comes with the territory and both sides play that game with their base.

  404. Nigel, Heller came only after 40 years of growing arguments and ways to try to get guns banned. It may have changed the terms of the debate, but there’s still plenty of debate left. Get back to me when every state in the US and the District of Columbia has shall-issue concealed carry, at a bare minimum.

  405. @esr:

    > For your analogy to hold

    I’m not the one who compared the second amendment with the first. Just pointed out that the rights described under the first are not absolute and unconditional, and it would not be unexpected for the same to be true of the rights described under the second.

    The fundraising propaganda of their organizations should have said that banning suttee is only a way station to banning all Hindu observances.

    To be clear, IMO most things proposed as “reasonable restrictions” on firearms aren’t. But I also think that there are possible restrictions that reasonable people could agree on. I understand the desire to not budge because it moves the perceived center and because the people on the other side are slimy, lying bastards, but OTOH ISTM that agreeing on truly reasonable restrictions can help to show the people who aren’t paying all that much attention that you are, in fact, reasonable.

    Case in point: I know a couple of people who suffer from psychotic episodes. These people are smart enough to understand that they don’t really want a gun around when they are in such an episode, but I would imagine there are some psychotics who haven’t thought it through all that well. I couldn’t tell you what level of restriction makes sense here, but, for example, it doesn’t seem that it would be all that burdensome for gun dealers to have a short questionnaire for prospective customers to fill out, so they could at least counsel the customers about the potential downsides.

  406. Or about how Obama was going to take all of our guns and ammo (leading to excessively stupid ammo prices for a while).

    Conspiracy theories of this sort surrounding Operation Fast and Furious have become the new birther meme. OFF has all the whiffs of being a direly mismanaged sting operation, not a conspiracy; and it doesn’t even come within an order of magnitude of the perfidy level of, say, the Iran-Contra affair.

  407. Jeff: If Fast & Furious wasn’t staged to bolster the false idea that American guns are fueling Mexico’s gang war, then why is the Obama administration stonewalling so hard about it? Especially in light of released memos that show they were at least thinking in those terms?

  408. @jay There are very few no-carry or restrictive may-issue states left. There will probably be one less soon given the Maryland law (where I live) has been judged unconstitutional but we’ll see with the 4th circuit court of appeals rules. I think the temporary stay gets lifted early August. At that point my understanding it that MD is pretty much forced to be shall-issue.

    When that happens will you have a new future criteria before I can get back to you? Gonna say “get back to me when every state has ccw reciprocity” and move the bar? Or “get back to me when they repeal the gfsza”?

    /shrug

    There are always new excuses not to be reasonable or be willing to discuss reasonable restrictions.

    As much as it’s true that the Brady folks try to move toward total ban there are just as many folks trying to move to zero regulations.

  409. Nigel: Moving toward zero regulations does not have eliminating firearms totally as its desired endgame. Historically, gun regulations do.

    And I’ll be astonished should Illinois, or Massachusetts, or New York, or California, ever get shall-issue.

  410. And I’ll be astonished should Illinois, or Massachusetts, or New York, or California, ever get shall-issue.

    It’s not totally hopeless here (MA). A few weeks ago, a shall-issue bill was released from the Public Safety committee with a favorable report. Mind you that there are only a few days left in the legislative session, and it still needs to pass through Ways and Means as well as Steering, to say nothing of the senate and the governor’s desk (he’ll veto it), so the chances of it being passed this year are basically nil, but at least it shows that there’s some legislative support out there.

    There’s also the court case Hightower v. Boston, for which the 1st circuit heard oral arguments last month. A victory there wouldn’t necessarily lead to “shall issue” per se, but at least it would mean some objective standards and due process.

  411. @jay

    If Fast & Furious wasn’t staged to bolster the false idea that American guns are fueling Mexico’s gang war, then why is the Obama administration stonewalling so hard about it?

    Because it was royally screwed up and it looks really bad? Nah…obviously some convoluted conspiracy to make guns look bad as opposed to governmental incompetence. Because the government is never incompetent. ROFL.

    And given the ATF started some of these ops in 2006 under Bush’s DOJ it’s more of an DOJ institutional CYA than some anti-gun campaign.

    Besides, selling AR-15s and other semi-autos is legal and something the folks beating on the ATF are all in favor of. So they are all up in arms because the ATF didn’t stop some guys from buying ARs? That’s what they WANT right? The US Attorney in Arizona told the ATF that selling such weapons was legal activity and they had no probable cause. How were they supposed to seize them after that?

    The batch of rifles that Brian Terry was killed with was a purchase was for THREE rifles. You want the ATF to seize a 3 rifle order? Against the wishes of the pro-gun AUSA who evidently didn’t want to prosecute anything?

  412. Nice try, Nigel. Wide Receiver was much more limited in scope than Fast & Furious, and was done on the up-and-up, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Mexicans.

    The guns sold in Fast and Furious were all sold to straw buyers that the dealers knew damn good and well were straw buyers, and the ATF told them to ignore the law and sell anyway for investigative purposes. Now ATF is using cartel violence as an excuse for imposing illegal reporting requirements and restrictions on gun sales in four states. Yeah, sure, they didn’t try to engineer that outcome. Riiiiight.

  413. @jay

    Moving toward zero regulations does not have eliminating firearms totally as its desired endgame. Historically, gun regulations do.

    Zero regulations lead to other undesirable end states as bad as eliminating firearms.

    And I’ll be astonished should Illinois, or Massachusetts, or New York, or California, ever get shall-issue.

    IANAL but MD appears to me to be yet another significant victory for CCW proponents. I assume MD will appeal up to SCOTUS.

  414. @Jay Maynard Because there’s enough dirt in there to support an impeachment? And as much as Obama likes Holder and vice versa, they don’t want to share the same jail cell?

  415. Jay/Nigel: The argument you’re having right now reminds me of the XKCD title text from a couple weeks ago:

    The comforting side in most conspiracy theory arguments is the one claiming that anyone who’s in power has any plan at all.

  416. The guns sold in Fast and Furious were all sold to straw buyers that the dealers knew damn good and well were straw buyers, and the ATF told them to ignore the law and sell anyway for investigative purposes. Now ATF is using cartel violence as an excuse for imposing illegal reporting requirements and restrictions on gun sales in four states. Yeah, sure, they didn’t try to engineer that outcome. Riiiiight.

    Sold with every intention of intercepting them and building a larger conspiracy case. Yah, that was their mission…to curtail illegal gun trafficking to Mexico.

    The reporting requirements are meandering through the courts as we speak since J&G filed against it. We’ll find out if they are indeed illegal or not.

    What illegal restrictions? I must have missed that but I don’t follow these things religiously. Just stuff that might impact Maryland.

  417. @Patrick: I am actually willing to consider and discuss “reasonable” restrictions on firearms ownership, carrying and use, in good faith assuming reasonable presentation. However, any proposal should be able to answer the following questions with a useful answer:

    1) Why this exact proposal and not some minor modification thereof. Magazine capacity restrictions fail this one. Why a 10 round limit instead of 9, 11, 12, 6, or 42? I want a useful answer, not a “well, we should start somewhere”, or “you’re being foolish” answer. If you can show that your proposal provides only a de-minimus impact on my ability to defend myself, family, neighbors and country, but a substantial hindrance on likely murders, you’ve got a good case here. Laws banning those adjudicated to be insane or violent felons from owning guns pass (though I’d like some way to recover those rights if treatment/re-rehabilitation actually does occur).

    2) Will these exact same restrictions apply to police officers? If not, why not? Remember that police carry a firearm only to protect themselves and the public as well, though with something resembling a duty to act which non-police officers don’t have. If the restrictions are too onerous for them, they are probably too onerous for me. Answers of “because they are police” aren’t acceptable here. Some things, perhaps, such as carrying inside a police station might be excused. Broad carrying limits won’t be. Something such as “carrying a firearm under the influence of alcohol” might pass muster. Something which requires fingerprint scanners probably won’t (because the police won’t accept them).

    If you want to come up with proposed restrictions, I’d love to see what at least would pass bright-line first-pass filters such as those.

  418. Nigel, the ATF had no means of intercepting the guns that they allowed to bought by strawbuyers, indeed they did not even notify the Mexican government of the smuggling operations for interception across the border, nor did they even notify the ATF’s own liaison agent in Mexico of the operation.

    They allowed thousands of guns to be smuggled and have a trivial number of prosecutions in hand. The actual conduct of the operation does not support any rational law enforcement purpose.

  419. >And don’t tell me that opportunists on both sides don’t engage in systematic lying to further their own ends (usually votes, money or ratings).

    Yes, I will tell you exactly that. Pro-gun opportunists don’t lie about things like crime statistics and the impact of civilian concealed carry, because they don’t have to lie; their beliefs are true and helpful to their position. Anti-gunners have to maintain false beliefs, or lie, or both (cf. Jason Alexander’s ridiculous 100K deaths per annum claim).

  420. ESR said: This just in: The Aurora shooter was not wearing any form of body armor.

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Retailer-who-sold-to-Holmes-getting-backlash-3730881.php

    To sort-of echo Nigel, that link doesn’t actually establish that.

    It establishes that that retailer sold him a “tactical vest” that was not armor.

    It does not establish a lack of armor acquired elsewhere, which the local PD says he had, quite specifically. Local PD might be wrong, naturally, but that’s another matter.

  421. @Garrett:

    > If you want to come up with proposed restrictions…

    I have no proposed restrictions. I merely allow for the possibility that there could be restrictions proposed that I would not disagree with, and the possibility that those who are countering the call for restrictions with a call for zero restrictions might be constructing a Maginot line. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, which, of course, means that we always have to be on the lookout for bad restrictions no matter what. But I can easily envision that fighting tooth and nail against reasonable restrictions could backfire, if it is ever shown that those restrictions could have been useful. I think the correct PR tactic is to tackle restrictions as they are proposed, and take them at face value. To be clear, I also think that most (maybe all) proposed restrictions that I have seen, taken at face value, are both useless and unconstitional, but I am willing to entertain the possibility that someone will propose a useful, constitutional restriction, and am suggesting that if that happens, the correct response might be to agree that it’s a good idea, rather than to worry about the camel and its nose.

  422. >It establishes that that retailer sold him a “tactical vest” that was not armor.

    I posted a correction on G+ but forgot to echo it here. There’s now photographic evidence suggesting Type IIA armor, which is obsolete and available precisely because it doesn’t stop even major-caliber bullets. Actual SWAT teams now use type III at a minimum. (You might still find IIA in a small-town cop shop.)

    So the current state of our knowledge is that the shooter’s “assault vest” wasn’t body armor, nor did he have “SWAT gear” – but he did have some body armor, probably just enough so he could believe it was useful. A round out of my .45 (320 grains at about 660fps) at combat distance? That would have taken him down.

  423. @garrett

    1) Limiting magazine size is intended to limit the number of victims in a mass shooting. In all of these mass shooting cases it strikes me that they all would have been stopped sooner if all they had easy access to were shotguns, revolvers and bolt action rifles.

    Any number is arbitrary. It won’t affect your recreational shooting much. Will it impact your ability to defend yourself? It depends on who you need to defend yourself from and how good a shot you are. I can’t hit squat so semi-auto with large mags sound pretty good to me.

    But here’s the deal…most of the time the bad guys have the initiative. They choose when and how they engage you so most of the time they’ll out gun you anywhere except in your own home. Maybe even then because as Walter states above its going to be 3am, you’re sleeping and way behind the power curve.

    2) Why on earth should they apply to LE or military? If you want to state that these restrictions should not apply to you if you have the same level of training and regulation as LEOs then that’s cool. I agree with that. Pass a rigorous test, a psych eval and annual quals and you get the same level of access as a normal patrol officer.

  424. @Daniel Frank “Someone on Eric’s G+ page wrote the perfect response to this sort of thing the other day”

    That was me, thanks. : )

  425. @esr If that’s all he wore he’s an idiot. That’s just enough that any non-penetrating hit is going to hurt like hell, probably result in broken ribs and everything else is going to go right through.

    Yes, I saw the picture with the female FBI agent too and it looks like a IIA concealable vest.

    There’s more stuff out of frame. If I were a nutcase looking to be infamous followed shortly by death by cop I’d wear that underneath a IIIA vest and rifle plates.

    Me, now that it’s a vague possibility, I wouldn’t be carrying a .45 as a CCW. Either a lightweight j frame or the .380 P3AT.

  426. I know that it is impossible to eliminate guns. I have not seen evidence that more armed people will reduce overall deaths by gunfire. Nor have I seen evidence that fewer armed people will result in lower deaths by gunfire. I think that more people with guns will increase the chance of an enraged idiot opening fire. I also think that more people with guns will mitigate the damage caused by the insane people on shooting sprees. However, we have one insane shooting spree every year or so. We have a lot more people loosing their temper. I believe that deaths by gunfire will probably increase as more people have guns. However, I am swayed by data. A few links are below. They are interesting, but not supportive of either gun reduction or gun proliferation policies.

    According to http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/welcome.htm, the homicide rate by guns has been pretty constant over the last 30 years or so (excepting the big peak in the 1990′s and the small hump in the early 80′s). In 2000-2005, the number of homicides by guns, knives, and other weapons is comparable to the mid-70′s. The rate should be lower now because the population is higher, of course.
    I also found a decent study showing a correlation between rates of gun ownership and homicides (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447364/). The authors are careful to state that no causation can be found.

    Personally, I do not like guns because they are loud and too easy to use. I prefer lethal force that is more subtle and requires more skill, like martial arts or chemistry. I have no problem with well trained, level headed people having guns, I just think that the majority of the ~30% of the US citizens with guns are probably not.

  427. Nigel, my primary carry weapon is a Glock 27, compact .40 S&W. They make a .45 ACP version that’s not a lot bigger. It’s pretty concealable. (And I prefer having a couple of extra rounds in the clip, and think the tradeoff for the slightly decreased power of .40 is worth it.)

    And if you outlaw semi auto hunting rifles, you’ll have lots and lots and lots of people on your case who might otherwise agree with you. There are lots of deluded hunters out there that don’t see that the gun grabbers want their guns, too. If you don’t outlaw semi auto hunting rifles, then why bother with the ugly guns?

  428. Matt L., your comment about enraged people is the “oh no we’ll have blood in the streets from road rage” and other horror stories that people were throwing around during the lead-up to every shall-issue CCW legislative fight.

    It *simply* *doesn’t* *happen*.

    Indeed, CCW permit holders commit crimes at a tiny fraction of the rate of the general population.

  429. CCW permit holders have a far lower rate of criminal activity than do mayors which belong to Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun organization MAIG.

  430. Rudolf Winestock wrote: A gunsmith has used a 3D printer from the mid-1990s to make a rifle.

    http://www.webpronews.com/gunsmith-uses-3d-printer-to-make-a-rifle-2012-07

    You can figure out the rest yourself.

    Reminds me of this conversation I posted to my Facebook (yeah, whatever) page a while ago:

    He: Ugh! These 3D printers are out of control…
    Me: What’s wrong?
    He: Don’t people realize they’ll be able to make weapons with them someday?
    Me: Why would people make weapons with them?
    He: Duhhhh! Same reason *anyone* would want weapons!
    Me: …
    He: Power!
    Me: …power to do what?
    He: To… you know! Control more! Of everything!
    Me: …like more 3D printers?
    He: EXACTLY!

  431. >Right. But to be clear, we do have “reasonable restrictions” on those other things.

    Sure, and we already have “reasonable restrictions” on RKBA too.

    >I don’t buy the camel’s nose/slippery slope arguments especially after Heller.

    You should buy it, it’s pretty much how almost all law in this country gets made, on precedent. It’s also the only way politicians can politic, by slicing away at bits and pieces one bite at a time.

    >Limiting magazine size is intended to limit the number of victims in a mass shooting. In all of
    >these mass shooting cases it strikes me that they all would have been stopped sooner if
    >all they had easy access to were shotguns, revolvers and bolt action rifles.

    I don’t know for certain, but I would wager that more people in this shooting were injured or killed by the shotgun and handguns than the riffle with the high cap magazine.

    In the Columbine shootings, the majority of shots fired came from a 9mm pistol with 10 round magazines, followed by the high cap TEC-9 and then a semi automatic shot gun. Incidentally, the person with the shotgun and the low cap pistol fired twice as many rounds as the one with the high cap TEC-9.

    Charles Whitman committed his massacres with standard hunting rifles (including bolt action) and revolvers.

    The VT shooter carried a .22 pistol and a 9mm, with 10 round mags in the .22

    The point being that while some shooters might choose and prefer high cap magazines, limiting the capacity of the magazine isn’t exactly a hinderance either. This is especially true when you consider that most of these shooters have at least 5 minutes if not longer to take their time and kill people, so whether they have to reload once or 6 times in that time isn’t going to make any large difference.

    >Why on earth should they apply to LE or military?

    Because part 2 of the second amendment is the ability (and right) to defend yourself against the government.

    >Pass a rigorous test, a psych eval and annual quals and you get the same level of
    >access as a normal patrol officer.

    When the crime rate among police officers falls to that of CCW people, then that might be reasonable, until then I think the CCW people have proven better capable of handling themselves and their guns.

    >I think that more people with guns will increase the chance of an enraged idiot opening fire.

    And yet for all the fears over “blood in the streets” it never seems to happen. Zimmerman made such massive headlines in part because it’s not a common occurrence.

    >Personally, I do not like guns because they are loud and too easy to use.

    This is precisely why I like guns. Easy to use means if I or someone else needs to defend themselves, there’s more chances of it going right for us. Loud means that if I or someone else needs to defend themselves, that someone will call the cops in the event I am unable.

    > I have no problem with well trained, level headed people having guns, I just think that the
    >majority of the ~30% of the US citizens with guns are probably not.

    It must be horrible going through life in the perpetual fear that most of the people you meet in the world would kill you without a thought if they had a gun on them.

  432. @Rudolf Winestock – what he 3D-printed was an AR-15 lower receiver, which as I understand it is less impressive than it sounds. But it does show a glimpse of where the future is going.

  433. @esr: Double check the specs. Your .45 carry ammo is almost certainly 230 gr projectiles at something like 900fps.

    @Nigel: One difference you seem to deliberately want to gloss over. Bush’s Wide Receiver program had tracking devices in the weapons. The program was cancelled when it was noticed that the tracking devices were being removed. In F&F there was no method to track the weapons in place, whatsoever. Ever, at any point. That really should make people stop and think.

    BTW, the AR15 is designed such that the receiver is a relatively low-stress part. Especially the lower (yes, the receiver is in 2 parts upper and lower). That’s what makes it possible for the normal AR15 receiver to be something so weak as aluminum. (Other rifle designs are different.) And making firearm parts that are in non-highly-stressed areas out of simple, easily shaped materials is nothing new. Witness polymer pistol frames. So no, nobody ‘made a rifle’ on a 3d printer. Somebody made a relatively unimportant part of a rifle on a 3d printer. Big difference.

  434. The significance of the AR-15 lower is that it is the part of the firearm that’s legally the *firearm*, all by itself. Everything else is just parts. For comparison, AR-15 stripped lower receivers sell for $200+, and in those places that ban nasty eeeeevil ugly guns, are treated as such.

  435. Yeah, a lower receiver by itself is a fairly unimpressive-looking component that (obviously) cannot be used to shoot bullets. But if you have a homemade lower receiver, you can buy the other components without undergoing the scrutiny associated with a firearms purchase and assemble them into a working firearm yourself.

    For the record, I think this particular trend is a good one, on the same level as strong encryption. Once you ephemeralize them, it becomes much harder for any entity to prevent people in general from having guns.

  436. The significance of the AR-15 lower is that it is the part of the firearm that’s legally the *firearm*, all by itself. Everything else is just parts. For comparison, AR-15 stripped lower receivers sell for $200+, and in those places that ban nasty eeeeevil ugly guns, are treated as such.

    I’ve seen stripped lowers on sale for less than half that, people tend to buy in bulk when that happens to do different AR builds later. Anyway, there’s nothing inherently special about the lower that’s just an ATF procedure, ready to be gamed. And gamed it is, people already machine their own lowers. It’s already even perfectly legal within certain restrictions.

  437. >@esr: Double check the specs. Your .45 carry ammo is almost certainly 230 gr projectiles at something like 900fps.

    Hm, you’re right. The correct specs make it more likely to penetrate IIA rather than less, though (vee-squared is our friend) so you’re just being pedantic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :-)

    Anyway, as a couple of people pointed out, even a .45 slug that didn’t penetrate would have fucked him up pretty effectively.

  438. Existing firearms law in the US is full of silly traps for people that make no sense at all.

    If I buy an AR15 receiver, that’s never been assembled into a firearm, and put a short barrelled (less than 16?) upper on it and leave off the stock, I’ve made what Federal law calls a pistol. And that’s perfectly legal.

    I take an identical AR 15 receiver, that had been made into a full size rifle previously, pull off the stock and put on the same short barrelled upper, such that it ends up being identical to the first example, I’ve committed a Federal felony worth 10 years on prison.

  439. Hm, you’re right. The correct specs make it more likely to penetrate IIA rather than less, though (vee-squared is our friend) so you’re just being pedantic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :-)

    I wouldn’t have bothered, I’m not especially pedantic by nature. But I don’t want you open to being nit-picked by someone less well-meaning later- wouldn’t do to have a sound argument weakened by being associated with mis-remembered facts.

    Anyway, as a couple of people pointed out, even a .45 slug that didn’t penetrate would have fucked him up pretty effectively.

    I don’t have direct experience but the people I speak with who do all say that being shot while wearing soft-body armor, even when the armor stops the bullet, is still painful and damaging. Which would tend to give you a little time to figure out your center-of-mass shots weren’t getting it done, and adjust aim either higher (head) or lower (pelvis).

  440. Anyway, as a couple of people pointed out, even a .45 slug that didn’t penetrate would have fucked him up pretty effectively.

    For all of the media hysteria that 1mm of Kevlar will stop a .50cal round, I’m given to understand that at 5–10m range getting hit by a 9mm round through IIA is something like getting hit with a crowbar. It generally won’t kill, but it will probably make anyone who isn’t sky high stop to catch his breath.

  441. Existing firearms law in the US is full of silly traps for people that make no sense at all.

    If I buy an AR15 receiver, that’s never been assembled into a firearm, and put a short barrelled (less than 16?) upper on it and leave off the stock, I’ve made what Federal law calls a pistol. And that’s perfectly legal.

    I take an identical AR 15 receiver, that had been made into a full size rifle previously, pull off the stock and put on the same short barrelled upper, such that it ends up being identical to the first example, I’ve committed a Federal felony worth 10 years on prison.

    A lot of what the ATF does (and puts people into prison for) isn’t actually based on law at all, but simply on (their own!) administrative procedure that effectively has the force of law. There are many problems with this. Among other things, ATF is infamous for changing its mind- and it’s never to your benefit.

  442. And if you outlaw semi auto hunting rifles, you’ll have lots and lots and lots of people on your case who might otherwise agree with you. There are lots of deluded hunters out there that don’t see that the gun grabbers want their guns, too. If you don’t outlaw semi auto hunting rifles, then why bother with the ugly guns?

    I’m tired so I can’t parse this as agreeing or disagreeing. Yes, if you don’t outlaw semi-auto hunting rifles then why bother with “assault weapons” because it would be sorta stupid.

    Only “sorta stupid” because you can sorta make the case that a semi-auto hunting rifle like the Remington 750 has at most…what? 10 rnds? The BAR box mags hold 4?

    Plus you don’t look as badass with a hunting rifle as opposed to a AR or AK and that takes some of the appeal away right there. Want to bet that if he couldn’t have gotten his AR that he would have riced out his 870 (er, excuse me made tactical) and gone with that instead? And killed a lot fewer folks.

    Is it worth it to take away high capacity semi-autos because of Aurora and Virginia Tech? Nah. Too many of them out there. It’s definitely closing the barn door long after the horse is gone. More kabuki theater security. It might happen and I wouldn’t like it but I also don’t expect them to do more than taking away mean looking “assault weapons”. They’d lose too many votes. Likewise they’d lose too many votes if they do nothing.

    So they’ll do something useless and claim victory.

    Besides, as terrible as these events were, they don’t cause me any lost sleep. The only time I was anxious was when Malvo and Muhammad was randomly sniping people around DC. Not much you can do about that. One minute you’re pumping gas. The next minute you’re dead.

  443. You can’t write legislation that can make a distinction between semi-automatic “hunting rifles” and scary looking black rifles. The now expired Federal ban listed features, and a rifle with three of the listed features was banned. So manufacturers made AR 15′s with fixed length stocks and no bayonet lugs – legal. And so we were all safe from crazed killers who might hang a bayonet on an AR 15.

  444. @greg I’m not glossing over that because my understanding is that F&F wasn’t intended to be a gunwalking + tracking kind of operation. The time that happened was when one of the agents got his own sting op going in parallel to F&F that turned out badly.

    You can argue that the dealers that were cooperating could have not sold to the straw buyers but they just would have gone elsewhere. The ATF agents wanted to arrest them since they were obvious straw buyers and that would have stopped those weapons from getting out.

    But you know what? I honestly believe that for the most part the agents were trying to do the right thing. Stop bad guys. That they screwed it up is sad but some organizations are more dysfunctional than others. Should the administration take a hit? Sure. Especially the DOJ.

    Eh, maybe its because I’ve met some ATF EOD guys and they seem like normal folk to me. They hunt, fish, talk sports and the usual stuff. They aren’t anti-gun storm troopers and tend to be conservatives like many (most?) military and LEOs.

  445. > Correct. I often think one of the reasons many people insist on describing terrorists as simple psychotics is as a form of psychological distancing – it makes them too uncomfortable to think that the behavior of terrorists may follow from premises that are not actually too unlike those of “normal” people.

    I couldn’t quite put it that way, but OK, the thought of raving madmen bent on a suicide mission seems to be a bit more comforting to the public than the thought of a cold, calculating killer who goes out there with the object of causing maximum destruction, and killing unarmed civilians for pleasure.

  446. I’m not glossing over that because my understanding is that F&F wasn’t intended to be a gunwalking + tracking kind of operation.

    Then what WAS it? If you make no effort to track the guns, what is the program for? What conceivable constructive purpose could it serve? Critics are being critical, because there isn’t one. So it must be something else.

    You can argue that the dealers that were cooperating could have not sold to the straw buyers but they just would have gone elsewhere. The ATF agents wanted to arrest them since they were obvious straw buyers and that would have stopped those weapons from getting out.

    The dealers were TOLD to sell by ATF. Were specifically instructed to do so, even when they reported what were clearly straw purchases. (FFL’s exist at ATF’s mercy, and ones that intend to stay in business don’t screw around, and they do what ATF tells them.) ATF’s own agents were specifically instructed by higher to let the straw purchasers and the guns go. Where? No way to know, there was no mechanism in place to trace the guns. In any way. At any time.

    But you know what? I honestly believe that for the most part the agents were trying to do the right thing. Stop bad guys. That they screwed it up is sad but some organizations are more dysfunctional than others. Should the administration take a hit? Sure. Especially the DOJ.

    Which agents? Some clearly were. Some clearly were not. It is instructive to those who are paying attention that the whistleblowers have been punished, and those most complicit in wrongdoing have been promoted, in many cases to positions in command of the whistleblowers. Hmmmm. The obvious perjury by ranking gov’t officials (like Holder) isn’t helping to alleviate any suspicions. Nor the absurd measures to avoid FOIA requests….

    Eh, maybe its because I’ve met some ATF EOD guys and they seem like normal folk to me. They hunt, fish, talk sports and the usual stuff. They aren’t anti-gun storm troopers and tend to be conservatives like many (most?) military and LEOs.

    Not sure what that has to do with anything. Criticism of F&F has nothing to do with picking on individual ATF agents. The problem with F&F is top-down institutional corruption.

  447. >Which would tend to give you a little time to figure out your center-of-mass shots weren’t getting it done, and adjust aim either higher (head) or lower (pelvis).

    The reflex I’ve trained for this situation is what cops call Mozambique drill – two center-of-mass shots followed by a head shot. I practice this at 30 feet, snap-shooting rather than lining up a sight picture, precisely to deal with scenarios like this (remember that since 2009 my threat model includes the possibility that I might be in a firefight with a would-be assassin). So I wouldn’t really have to think about it at all.

    Now, I’m not under any illusions that I’m good enough to make a head shot reliably in these conditions. If I’m in concealment I’d have time to slow down, improving my odds. Still…smoke bomb, screaming people…I’d have to get pretty lucky. The point is that since I’ve drilled this technique I can initiate and execute it pretty quickly. I like my odds of at least one of the C-O-M shots landing, and that would nicely crowbar anyone in IIA armor.

    Of course, if all three shots miss, or he’s got Type III plates, I’m in deep shit because that AR-15 muzzle is going to come looking for me. I dunno what a .45 slug will do to to someone wearing type III.

  448. >Only “sorta stupid” because you can sorta make the case that a semi-auto hunting rifle
    >like the Remington 750 has at most…what? 10 rnds? The BAR box mags hold 4?

    Except as I pointed out above, theres no real evidence that smaller cap mags reduce the number of victims in these shootings. Plenty of people died when the killers were using small cap magazines. Your average goblin in question still probably spends more time terrorizing his victims in a slow march of death than he would changing magazines if all he had were 10 round mags.

  449. Speaking of the slippery slope of gun control:

    http://thehill.com/video/senate/240657-cybersecurity-bill-includes-gun-control-measure

    Question #1: What pray tell does firearm magazine capacity have to do with “cyber security”?

    Question #2: Why is it when any politician talks about “giving a little” when it comes to gun control (or really any other matter), they’re always talking about giving up a little bit more of your rights, instead of giving a little bit more freedom to the people?

  450. @ Jay Maynard “There is no way to make it harder for baboons to get guns. Period. Even under our current, unacceptable gun laws, they can still get them any time they want them. Stiffening the gun laws only disarms more honest citizens.”

    There is. Popular Republic of China succeeds. Though their methods are, to me(and for you too, it seems), unacceptable, to use your own term. I guess it would take decades of oppressive police state in the USA to achieve a significative reduction in weapons available to bad guys, but I think it can be done.
    But I don’t think it will ever happen. You are even free to criticize Obama without caring about the secret police listening. That’s a privilege I cannot imagine disappearing in the US in my lifetime.

  451. @esr> Of course, if all three shots miss, or he’s got Type III plates, I’m in deep shit because that AR-15 muzzle is going to come looking for me.

    You’re making my point for me. Just remember to allow that you’re shooting from low cover, not standing on both feet at the range.

  452. I can’t find it mentioned to this point but Article XVII of the Colorado Constitution makes it clear that yes, acting as a militia of last resort is the duty of every male in Colorado (at least between 18 and 45). It is the law of the state of Colorado and most other states as well. The 2nd amendment gives you protection against federal usurpation but the state constitutions are certainly still valid and very often better stated than the US Constitution’s language.

  453. This is off-topic here, but you haven’t made a general libertarian post recently where it would fit better, and I wanted to share it with any of your readers that don’t follow LessWrong. I posted it in support of a post by fare, that also presents some of the Hayekian ideas from your varieties of anti-intellectualism post, to which I also left a link there.

    I’ve about given up on LW, more than half the people here, judging from surveys, believe in socialism, or the socialism lite of modern liberalism, a belief system on a par with Creationism. Economics may not be as scientific as biology, but it is the most reliable of the social sciences, and economic socialism denies economics exactly as Creationism denies biology.

    Economic libertarianism is how things actually work; socialism, of all styles and degrees, is to economics as Creationism is to biology. It is a politcal attempt to make the real world conform to wishful thinking. Political libertarianism is the refusal to condone that attempt to evade reality. Also the recognition that other forms of freedom are also as important in other areas of human relations, even if they are not as easily quantifiable as economics.

    Libertarianism in the real world is far from perfect, of course. One failure of libertarianism is to clearly define fundamental versus derived effects and their importances. The “market worshiping” libertarians celebrate any effect caused by a free market whether it is good or not. The problem is that most of what they notice are derivative effects, what the market makes available. The fundamental benefit of free markets, though, is in the freedom granted creators, without which hardly any of the goods would be available in the first place. A key document describing, and celebrating, the “market worship” perversion is Virginia Postrel’s The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness. I once, in my pre-Internet days, started an essay in response, “Why Style Lacks Substance, or The Value of Free Markets is in Opportunity it Provides, not in What it Rewards.”

    Another libertarian perversion is the “libertinist” position, they can usually be recognized by the outsized emphasis they place on recreational drugs, pornography, and entertainment. Not that these should be controlled, but they are definitely secondary, in the real world, to production and distribution.

    “Politics is the mindkiller” is an irrational mantra from those attempting to defend their irrational beliefs. Intelligence far too often simply makes it easier for people to rationalize whatever they want to believe in.

  454. “But you know what? I honestly believe that for the most part the agents were trying to do the right thing. Stop bad guys. That they screwed it up is sad but some organizations are more dysfunctional than others. Should the administration take a hit? Sure. Especially the DOJ.”

    For what it’s worth, I’ve read the same things Greg said in coverage of the scandal. Many of the field agents knew that what they were being ordered to do was ill-considered at best, but they were told to continue against their better judgment by their superiors. So even if some, most, or nearly all of the field agents at the ATF were honest people of good conscience and solid judgment, the members of the ATF giving them orders were not. Either they were *extremely* incompetent, ignoring the repeated warnings of agents in the field and basic common sense to pursue an operation with no discernible purpose*, or they had malicious intent. The latter seems more likely, given the facts coming to light about the case, the ATF’s actions in response to the scandal (punishing the whistleblowers, pushing more gun control measures, etc.) and the administration’s stance on guns in general (claiming to pursue gun control “under the table”, pushing the false “90% of Mexican guns used in crimes were supplied by the US” meme, etc.). While it’s possible that a botched operation would be covered up purely for political reasons, there are elements of the case that indicate this was much more than a tracking operation gone wrong.

    * The best explanation I’ve heard that doesn’t involve an attempt to push gun control is that the ATF was trying to swing the balance of power between the Mexican drug cartels by supplying one with weaponry. I don’t know much about this theory, and I’m not sure what evidence, if any, has come to light, but it’s the only purpose I’ve heard for the operation that makes any sort of sense.

  455. You are even free to criticize Obama without caring about the secret police listening. That’s a privilege I cannot imagine disappearing in the US in my lifetime.

    While the federal government doesn’t appear to be locking people up for saying the wrong things, they’ve been listening to all your phone calls and reading your e-mail for a decade now, and dealing with getting put on the TSA no-fly list (which they’re apparently trying to expand to a no-ride and even no-drive list) is an experience straight out of Kafka.

  456. I wonder…..is it the communist Chinese regime’s draconian anti-gun policy that is so effective at reducing guns among civilians/criminals alike…..or is it that it’s such a desolate economic commie shithole that it isn’t worth the risk of trafficking black market guns into?

  457. You are even free to criticize Obama without caring about the secret police listening.

    Thanks to Shrub who initiated it and Obama who continued it, the secret police are listening in Murka. They’re just not making any arrests. Yet.

  458. @Nigel:

    In regards to point 1, I will accept your intent at face value: that you want to limit the number of victims of a mass shooting. This is a perfectly laudable goal. However, your claim that limiting magazine sizes will do so is an assertion or perhaps a hypothesis. Perhaps a well-intentioned and thought out one, but still only a hypothesis. This is why I asked for details on the specific proposal. It’s not that I object to magazine restrictions per-se. It’s that no restriction is anything but arbitrary. If you can provide solid research which shows that a particular-sized magazine maximum (or range thereof) has a significant impact on the ability of mass shooters to kill people *and* at the same time that such a limit has only a de minimus impact on my ability to defend myself then I will give it strong consideration. That is, if you can show that 13+ round magazines enable mass shootings but <=12 don't, and can show that 11-round magazines are all that have been required for 99.9%+ defensive shootings, I'll strongly consider it and possibly even support it based on this criteria (assuming solid research, data points, statistical significance, etc). However, this issue usually follows the "we must do something; this is something; therefore we must to it". Since you acknowledge that the magazine capacity limit is, at the moment, arbitrary, there is no reason that the same logic can't be used to set the limit to 1. This is a good indication that the logic itself is faulty.

    In regards to point 2, you will notice that I didn't require that a proposition be applied to the military (though it does get bonus points if it does). I said it should apply to law enforcement because they carry (mostly) for the same reason that I do – to defend myself and others. Though LEOs are trained more than I am, most of that has to deal with procedures, affecting arrests, etc. Even as it pertains to use-of-force scenarios, it has to do with them responding and shoot/no-shoot scenarios. It is expected that a LEO will respond to a hostage-taking, contain the situation, etc. I need less training because all I need to do is protect myself/family and get out of there. I don't need to talk somebody down. I don't need to execute search warrants on supposed drug dealers' houses. *This* is the part of the job which requires a lot of training and expertise. I want any restriction that is to apply to me to apply to LEOs as well because their use of firearms should *also* be limited to defending themselves and the public. Yes, they are more likely to enter dangerous situations, but the use is exactly the same. This contrasts with the military where part of the job is actually to purposefully kill people which is why I don't require that such limitations apply to the military.

  459. @Jay,

    There is not lot of road rage types of incidents with concealed permit owners. There is not a lot of road rage incidents among the non carriers as well. There are also not a lot of mass shooting sprees. I don’t know what happens when there are more guns on the street. I suspect that gun-related accidental deaths and homicides will go up, you think they will go down. Neither of us has good data to back up our claims because it is damn near impossible to tease out causation in a social experiment. There is plenty of correlative data to argue both sides, which enforces my belief that there is a lot of crap data and that it exists on both sides of this discussion.

    I do know that there are ~10,000 homicides by gun every year in the US. I assume homicides do not include self-defense. It would be nice if that number could be reduced. It’s a complex problem and I do not know the answer. (to put it in a ‘methods of rationality’ kind of way, I notice that I am confused.)

  460. >which they’re apparently trying to expand to a no-ride and even no-drive list

    This is where the whole “{Driving|Flying} is a privilege, not a right” meme reveals itself as bullshit. Government can revoke a privilege whenever it wants for any reason or no reason. But it can’t abridge a right without due process. If your name can be put on a list of people who aren’t allowed to ____ by some Executive Branch official or other, who doesn’t have to explain why you’re on the list, and you have no opportunity to examine the evidence against you or offer any evidence in your defense, then we have not even the semblance of “a government of laws and not of men”.

    Thus I maintain that we do indeed have a “right to drive”, but like all rights there are limits to its exercise, and a person who has diminished capacity or demonstrated irresponsibility may have his rights abridged. But there needs to be some due process.

  461. An excerpt from my previous link:

    “Spokesmen for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and Wal-Mart advise civilians not to get involved in such situations. ‘We want to keep our stores a pleasant place to shop, so we would never encourage our customers to arm themselves,’ said Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams. …

    “Shopper Lorinda Smith, who was in the candy aisle during the confrontation, said Tuesday that she was more frightened by Suter’s gun then the man’s knife.

    ” ‘That scared the c— out of me, that someone could have a gun in the store,’ said Smith of Hernando Beach. ‘This one lady was in there with her children and when she saw (the gun) she was like, “Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” If I was there with my kids, I would have had a heart attack.’ ”

    Frightened at the sight of a responsible fellow citizen–a five-foot-three grandmother–using a legally licensed handgun to stop a crime without even firing a shot.

  462. Meh. All people are born “sheeple”. If you raise one from birth to be more than that, chances are you’ll succeed; the only ways you won’t are if you’re also one and didn’t think to do it, or if you didn’t have the ability to teach, or you didn’t have the resources (because you’re too busy working two jobs or something). Education and training are expensive and time-intensive.

    They’re especially time-intensive if you insist on not relying on crutches like arguments from authority or appeals to guilt or force or similar seeds. People who want to train in bulk get a lot of bang out of these types of approaches, enough to convince them to use the crutches. If you want to get to a society that minimizes the time any new person remains a “sheeple”, you’re going to have to figure out a way around the very powerful incentives embodied in those crutches.

  463. “Gun free zones”.

    Holy shit am I glad I live in Switzerland where we don’t need “gun free zones” because there just aren’t enough crazy people running around thinking they’d actually need to carry a freaking GUN with them.

    Americans…

  464. Salamandro, we Americans all wish we were issued assault rifles by the government like the Swiss.

  465. Oh, and Salamandro, have you forgotten Friedrich Leibacher ? He killed more people than Holmes in Colorado.

  466. >Holy shit am I glad I live in Switzerland where we don’t need “gun free zones” because there
    >just aren’t enough crazy people running around thinking they’d actually need to carry a
    >freaking GUN with them.

    We don’t *need* gun free zones either, because they aren’t effective, but even more because 99.997% of our population are not murders. Hell if you believe our (non traffic offense) arrest rates, 93% of the population aren’t even criminals.

    Unfortunately, if it bleeds it leads on the evening news, and out politicians operate under the philosophy of “We must do something, this (utterly insane, over-reactive and counterproductive) thing is something, let’s do it”. Hence gun free zones, zero tolerance policies, laws that make growing a naturally occurring plant an arrestible offense, and laws that make it legal for the police to charge your property with a crime rather than you so that they may confiscate it without due process.

  467. SPQR, I agree, politicians should all carry guns on them while being in parliament. It’s also an astounding sight when you walk down Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich and everyone’s carrying their Sturmgewehr around. Or did I just dream that up and actually pretty much everyone just stuffed away their rifle somewhere in the cellar? Ofc some occasionally do get their rifles out to threaten their wives at home and stuff, but I guess I better stop now, continue reading Raymond’s tech-related posts and ignore gun-topics, as our view obviously couldn’t be more conflictive.

  468. That is, if you can show that 13+ round magazines enable mass shootings but <=12 don't, and can show that 11-round magazines are all that have been required for 99.9%+ defensive shootings, I'll strongly consider it and possibly even support it based on this criteria (assuming solid research, data points, statistical significance, etc).

    That’s a silly requirement because you and I both know it’s impossible to prove and untrue anyway. The difference between 11, 12 and 13 rounds in a magazine fed weapon is minimal.

    The difference between 7 rounds in a shotgun, 4 rounds in a bolt action or 6 rounds in a revolver and 30 rounds in a AR-15 in an Aurora type shooting is significant. I’ll even grant you speed loaders, stripper clips, etc.

    Any time you need to reload under stress is an opportunity to mess it up or get jumped.

    As far as defensive shooting goes, given that many home defense folks use pump shotguns and many CCW holders favor j-frames I’m inclined to say that while higher capacity and harder hitting weapons are common in their arsenal the most likely weapon on hand in a defensive shooting scenario is, as often as not, a low capacity weapon.

    Again, this isn’t something I’m advocating but it strikes me that we could live without high capacity weapons if need be for 90% of gun needs. It’s just not practical or even useful to try to do.

  469. Salamandro, your comments reveal quite clearly your own limitations in discussing the topic.

  470. Nigel, the point is that the magazine limit would be arbitrary. And there is no reason why any particular limit has any validity at all.

  471. Nigel: I guess you’ve never heard of the combat reload. It only takes practice to be able to swap magazines in under a second.

    And banning high-capacity magazines (for any value of “high”) is even sillier than banning guns: all it takes to make a magazine is the ability to bend and cut sheet metal.

    Salamandro, you’ll find that Eric’s motivated by exactly the same things in his tech postings as he is in his gun postings. It would be instructive for you to contemplate that, and your reactions. Unfortunately, I don’t think you will.

  472. SPQR, you are absolutely right that I will never understand people’s obsession over guns (or weapons, for that matter) and for that am not open to discussion.

    Jay, maybe I will find that. Up until then, I will keep on detesting guns and societies of weapon-yielding people. But if you care to elaborate on his motivation, please do so. Maybe I will understand why his blog reads “Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures…” instead of something along the lines of “Sex, software, politics, and motorcycles. Life’s simple pleasures…”

    I think I do understand some of your American Dream, I just don’t get why that has to involve public firearms :\

  473. I do know that there are ~10,000 homicides by gun every year in the US. I assume homicides do not include self-defense.

    Why on earth would you assume that? A criminal killed in self-defense is somehow not dead?! He is a person, he was killed, so his death was a homicide. QED. But it’s not a homicide we should be sorry about, or try to prevent.

  474. Salamandro, it’s all about freedom. Free people have the right to own firearms to protect themselves and their communities. Slaves don’t.

    Eric’s other motivations are about freedom as well, specifically his notions of freedom as they relate to software. (I’m still smarting more than a little about being called an enemy of freedom because I’m typing this on a Mac, but Eric’s position is quite consistent.)

  475. >(I’m still smarting more than a little about being called an enemy of freedom because I’m typing this on a Mac, but Eric’s position is quite consistent.)

    Yes, I’m wondering when you’re going to stop funding the enemy.

  476. @jay

    Nigel: I guess you’ve never heard of the combat reload. It only takes practice to be able to swap magazines in under a second.

    And were any of my examples magazine fed? No. Well, okay, for bolt action. But my examples clearly eliminated even average capacity mag fed weapons.

    /shrug I guess taking a cheap shot and insinuating I’m clueless is better than admitting that high capacity weapons have combat utility and makes it more efficient to actually kill people.

    But doesn’t have much impact on hunting or target shooting.

    I’m pretty sure that the US army has heard of combat reloading and still sees a clear advantage for 30 rnd mags over 8 rnd stripper clips. You can learn to combat reload a shotgun or a revolver and not achieve the same rate of fire as a relatively untrained gunman with an AR-15 with a 30 rnd mag. Or a 20 rnd Five-SeveN for that matter. Or a 15 rnd Glock.

    I’m reasonably certain that if the Aurora shooter was using a M1 with 8 rnd stripper clips he’d have screwed it up at some point long before his 100 rnd mag jammed. He shot 70 people. That’s an insane number of people by one guy when police were on scene in 60-90 seconds after 911 calls.

    You think he could have shot 70 people without the AR? Even granting him the Glocks? And the 9mm less lethal than the AR.

    Give me a break.

    And banning high-capacity magazines (for any value of “high”) is even sillier than banning guns: all it takes to make a magazine is the ability to bend and cut sheet metal.

    Good luck building a high capacity magazine for a revolver.

    When did I say ban high-capacity magazines? Never.

    I said high capacity weapons. But given there’s a billion of them out there already it’s pointless to try to get rid of them. No ban will survive politically without a grandfather clause and if you do that it’s all kabuki security theater.

    That might happen anyway given it’s an election year. I suggest not putting off buying your zombie apocalypse gun. This might be your last chance for a few years at a reasonable price.

  477. Nigel, I’ve done quite a bit of target shooting with firearms that use what you call “high capacity” magazines. I’d have to check my logbook, but I think I have at least 3,000 rounds of competition shooting with USPSA Open class guns over the past couple of decades. Normally I rank better with the slightly lower capacity single stack guns and so have a few more rounds in those but nonetheless …

  478. Salamandro writes: “SPQR, you are absolutely right that I will never understand people’s obsession over guns (or weapons, for that matter) and for that am not open to discussion.

    Discussion, no. But you seem pretty open to delivering ad hominem. Which I find fascinating given your apparent refusal to deal with facts contrary to your inventions and speculations.

  479. >You think he could have shot 70 people without the AR? Even granting him the Glocks?
    >And the 9mm less lethal than the AR.

    Actually yes. According to wikipedia, the AR malfunctioned after some amount of rounds < 30, but the police haven't released the information about the number of rounds fired per weapon. Let's give you the benefit of the doubt and say that he fired a full 30. Let's also assume that he managed one bullet per victim, to avoid having to guestimate how many rounds went through their victims and how many victims a single shotgun shot can hit and so on and it also lets us assume that all 58 wounded were wounded by gun fire. In this case, he still fired 41 rounds from the shot gun and pistols (41 because we know the first round was fired at the ceiling, and we could reasonably guess that at least 30 of those rounds came from the glock since we know the police found 3 glock magazines on the ground), more than was fired from the rifle. So yes, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that he could have managed that much carnage without the AR. Especially since just because the police arrived on the scene in 90 seconds doesn't mean that the shooting stopped then, and he had already been shooting for about a minute before the first 911 calls were placed, and he wasn't apprehended until 12:45, almost 10 minutes after he started.

  480. @tpmoney

    He probably fired 8 rounds from the shotgun and that was it. 1st round into the ceiling.

    None of the wikipedia sources actually writes less than 30 rounds stated so it’s conjecture but given how flakey those 100 rnd mags are I wouldn’t be surprised. For folks that claim he would have folded under fire because he surrendered to the police without a shot it is perhaps because he felt outgunned without his AR.

    “A senior FBI agent said: “If his firing mechanism had not seized, he could have wiped out the entire audience in a few minutes.

    It could have been an almost unimaginably devastating scen­ario. This weapon has only one purpose – to kill as many people as quickly as possible.”

    Thinking about it, yeah you can shoot 70 people with just the Glock. The Glock 22 has a 15 round factory mag. That’s only 4 reloads + the 7 from the shotgun. Heck you can get 30 rnd. mags for the Glock. Mkay, sure, I stand corrected.

    But that doesn’t detract from my assertion at all. That’s a far higher rate of sustained rate of fire (over the duration of the 10 min shooting) than could normally be achieved with the three weapons I mentioned: pump or semi low cap shotgun (no Saigas or ksgs), low cap bolt or semi hunting rifle (no AR or AKs) or revolver.

    Yah, yah, if you trained hard for the mad minute you can get 30+ rnds a minute from a lee-enfield and hit still hit targets. So if you’re one of a few dozen guys that still do that great.

    So the anti’s have a point. If we could reverse time or gather up all the semi’s capable of high capacity mags then yeah you could make things safer AND still have guns for all recreational activities.

    But you can’t so it’s stupid to try. That wont stop the anti’s from trying but it also means I can’t get all upset about it either…anything they choose to legislate will be mostly ineffective except to make certain firearms and accessories more expensive.

    If I really think they’re going to ban ARs I guess I’ll go buy one before that happens even though I never really had a hankering for one.

  481. Nigel, I still own the SA-85M (AK-47 clone from Bulgaria, one of the nicer ones) I bought in 1994.

    And here’s a clue for you: The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting or target shooting.

  482. You are in a dark, smoke-filled theater, and someone in the front of the room starts shooting. You get out your gun. From behind you to your left you hear more gunfire. What do you do?

    Don’t answer that, I’m just making a point. The “right” answer, based on the assumption that the above is asked by some clever anti-gun liberal, is to say that you ignore what is clearly another CCW person just like you who is shooting at the attacker. But in _my_ hypothetical situation, the attacker really does have an accomplice. [I'll add that you don't see the attacker in the front of the room go down. Because it's dark, and there's smoke, and maybe the guy behind you didn't get his aim right - or maybe he did but you just can't see clearly.]

    My point is, you are taking the very simplistic position that there is no possible situation that could not be made better by having more people with guns around. This makes you sound foolish when presented with a situation like this, where it really wouldn’t. You know _now_ that he acted alone, and thus that any shooting coming from the audience would not be from his [nonexistent] accomplice. Had you been there at the time, you would not have that knowledge. _It does not weaken your position to admit this,_ yet you seem to think it does. I am reminded of an article on Less Wrong about seeing facts as enemy soldiers.

    If he’d had an accomplice, can you say this article wouldn’t be saying that if some of the audience had had guns they would have been able to identify both attackers and take them out?

  483. Random832, that you can speculate another more complex scenario to create your situation that you then define as being made worse by concealed carry permittee is just silly. And for that matter, I don’t agree that in your speculation, you’ve created a scenario that is indeed made worse.

    Your position is no less “simplistic” at all.

  484. Milhouse: Homicide, according to the FBI, does not include justifiable homicides. I would strongly suspect that most self defense killings are considered justifiable. So there are ~10,000 annual gun deaths in the US that do not involve self-defense.

    Reducing the gun population to zero would fix the problem, but it is impractical. Increasing the gun population is assumed to reduce the death toll, but there is no causal proof of that. From what I can tell, the crazy person from Aurora obtained his guns legally. Is it wrong to try to prevent a crazy person from obtaining guns? Should we give up on trying? If it’s a 2nd amendment argument, why can’t I legally obtain weapons that would be useful against a modern army (I’m looking at you armored vehicles)?

  485. Matt L.: “why can’t I legally obtain weapons that would be useful against a modern army (I’m looking at you armored vehicles)?”

    Good question, and one that many of us have been asking for years. It’s not even without judicial precedent. The 1934 Firearms Act provision banning sawed-off shotguns was upheld by the Supreme Court specifically because they held that they were not “weapons of military utility”. The only problem is that they *are* weapons of military utility (they are favored in trench-clearing operations, for example); the Court held that it was “not within judicial notice” that they were, mainly because the plaintiff in the case had died a year or so before the ruling, and nobody pressed it.

    If the Court had struck down that ban because they were weapons of military utility, the national debate would be of much different form today, I think.

  486. “Random832, that you can speculate another more complex scenario to create your situation that you then define as being made worse by concealed carry permittee is just silly.”

    You are arguing against the post you want to argue against rather than the one I actually wrote. I never said it made it worse. Just that it didn’t make it better.

    I didn’t even bother to speculate on what a hypothetical CCW holder would _actually_ do, faced with that situation and lacking the knowledge that he is in a hypothetical based on a real event with only one shooter. Just that it’s too easy to say that he’d do the thing that would be the best response in the real event people are discussing, regardless of whether that is the most likely situation based on the information available to him without that context.

    And I also said that even if it _did_ make it worse, it wouldn’t mean that gun-free zones are a good idea, or that banning guns is a good policy. It would just mean that the real world is a complex place and for any given policy you can come up with situations it would affect in any conceivable way. Trying to argue that _every_ situation works exactly the way that makes your side look best, just makes it look like you value cheerleading over actual logic. Focus on all the other bad situations that _could_ be prevented by having more people armed, rather than refusing to acknowledge that there is one that couldn’t.

  487. Nigel, I still own the SA-85M (AK-47 clone from Bulgaria, one of the nicer ones) I bought in 1994.

    Which has what to do with anything other than to reinforce my point that any AR/AK ban would be a pointless exercise? All any ban would do is increase the value of your SA-85M.

    My perspective is simple…the anti-gun folks will jump up and down and possibly convince the average american that semi-auto assault rifles are a dumb thing to have on the streets. They have a point but it’s too late now to try to stuff the genie back into the bottle. But what the heck, if they are successful then the average american, which is largely pro gun, will agree to some useless AR ban with a sunset clause like last time. The NRA will at least manage that part. Then they’re going to say “Okay, that was reasonable to do but now we don’t care anymore about this issue”.

    Which means nothing more will happen and eventually the ban expires again.

    Sorry, I can’t get all worked up about that.

    And here’s a clue for you: The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting or target shooting.

    In the large majority of successful revolutions external help or military defection have been required to be successful.

    If the highly patriotic and loyal service men and women don’t believe that the country has devolved into tyranny then I’m guessing it probably hasn’t. If they do believe that then hey, you’ve got tanks and airplanes. Personal weapons may matter in the very beginning (mostly to produce martyrs) but take the example of Syria. It’s been the defectors that form the effective fighting core of the Free Syrian Army. Given the Russians will block any effective external interference the success of failure of that revolution depends on how many soldiers defect.

    So as long as our sons and daughters (middle income americans like you and I) still join a volunteer military I have no real worries about tyranny.

    Ah forget it, I’m arguing religion again and you’re getting all pissy because I don’t agree with your POV. So here’s a clue for you, if you’re getting all snippy because someone disagrees with you in a non-antagonistic manner then probably you’re the one not being all that rational about things.

  488. No, Nigel, it’s that we’ve heard all of your “reasonable” arguments before and they’ve universally been camel’s nose arguments.

    We’ve dealt with those arguments for decades, and we’re getting more than a little sick and tired of them. First it’s ugly guns and “high-capacity” magazines (where what’s “high-capacity” keeps falling), then it’s any autoloading firearm, then it’s firearms in general, then it’s knives…

    No. Never again. Molon labe, motherfuckers.

  489. Did no-one think to turn the lights on in that place when he heard gunshots and screaming? I dunno who was in charge of the light switches, the projectionist or the Goddamned manager, but when things go weird, you want to turn the lights on so you can see what’s up.

  490. To expand on my previous comment…

    We’ve been hearing calls for “reasonable”, “common sense”, “sensible” gun regulation for decades. The folks making those arguments delight in painting their opponents as unreasonable, extremist, crazed gun nuts, and claiming that they’re only out to make society safer.

    They ignore that gun controls correlate inversely with safety as measured by any metric that can be devised. They compare the US with other countries, but never compare within the US – because those comparisons inevitably show that the places with the worst crime are *also* the places with the tightest restrictions on civilian ownership of firearms.

    They bash guns designed for ease of use and durability as “weapons of war”, while ignoring that those are functionally identical to other “good” firearms.

    They ignore the entire history of civilian firearms ownership in the US, linked as it is to war and to defense of the country and of the citizens. They ignore that weapons of war have been owned by Americans since before the founding of the country, and the Founding Fathers’ explicit words saying that such is the proper way of things.

    They ignore the plain words of the Second Amendment, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, elevating the explanatory clause to a limiting one – and then turning it on its head such that weapons of most use to a militia are precisely the ones they first want to ban. They further ignore that *every male American between the ages of 18 and 45 is a member of the militia*. (See 10 USC 311.)

    They claim that the Founding Fathers never envisioned the power of modern weaponry, ignoring that it was not unheard of for individuals to own the most powerful weapons fo the day….not muskets, *warships*. They imply that the Founding Fathers could not look into the future and see what it might bring.

    Religion, Nigel? No. Just lots and lots and lots of experience dealing with people who advocate for “reasonable” gun control…dishonestly, claiming that their “reasonable” restrictions are all they seek, when their own writings give the lie to the statement and show them as fundamentally hostile to the notion of firearms in civilian hands.

    We are deep down sick and tired of fighting this battle over and over and over again. Anyone who claims they only want “reasonable” gun control is a lying gun grabber until they prove otherwise…and that’s damned near impossible to prove. You have to earn my trust, or else you’ll be as effective, and as listened to, as the Brady Bunch.

  491. @ nigel

    When did I say ban high-capacity magazines? Never.

    I said high capacity weapons. But given there’s a billion of them out there already it’s pointless to try to get rid of them.

    How does one define a “high capacity weapon”? The problem I see here is that *any* firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine can potentially become a “high capacity weapon”.
    All that has to happen is for someone with the ability to bend sheet metal to decide he wants a magazine for his gun that can hold more rounds, and build one. Once that magazine is attached to the gun, presto! Instant high capacity weapon.

    The only solution here would be to ban guns that can accept detachable magazines, and as you correctly point out, it’s a bit late to put that genie back in the bottle. But even if you *could* go back in time, outlaw and collect up all civilian owned firearms that can accept detachable magazines, would you truly *want* to?

  492. Nigel wrote: “So the anti’s have a point. If we could reverse time or gather up all the semi’s capable of high capacity mags then yeah you could make things safer AND still have guns for all recreational activities.

    You mean ” … all recreational activities approved of by Nigel …”

  493. I’ll discuss ‘reasonable’ levels of gun control when we can concurrently discuss ‘reasonable’ levels of slavery.

    Banning slavery and unrestricted slavery are clearly both ‘extreme’ positions, and we should be able to come to a reasonable compromise – perhaps 2 slaves max?

    Oh? What’s that? Slavery is fundamentally wrong? Hmmm….let me think about this a while…..

  494. Why does nobody seem willing to discuss gun control in reference to the most historically consistent and prolific killer known to man? Government.

    Exclusively private ownership of firearms. Sounds good to me. Disarm all governments and privatize the military and police.

  495. >Religion, Nigel? No. Just lots and lots and lots of experience dealing with people who advocate for “reasonable” gun control

    Yup.

    Nigel, I’ll assume for the moment that you are personally honest, but all our experience says people who talk like you are in general lying bastards. So what you need to know is that there is no hope – none at all – that your kind of talk will persuade us. That well has been thoroughly poisoned.

  496. @esr Which is why I normally don’t bother talking about this. Both sides are so hopelessly entrenched that any attempt to be reasonable draws fire from both sides. There just aren’t any liberals on here to be slinging arrows my way so hey, bonus.

    I figured this place could have a semi-reasonable discussion on the matter over the usual gun sites.

    Read what I wrote and how Jay responds. He’s not responding to what I write but what he thinks I write based on arguments from the past. He’s completely stopped thinking and anyone that vaguely disagrees with his position is a lying gun grabber and he needs to win this argument at all costs.

    Whatever, there’s nothing to win. I don’t advocate banning any sort of gun.

    Sure, I’m for reasoned gun control but pretty much along the lines of the left wing of the NRA (hahaha). Gun ownership should require proof of gun safety training and a reasonable effort to insure that the owner isn’t a felon or whacko. Oh wait, that makes me a lying gun grabber. LOL.

    When you wig out on me it simply reinforces the meme that gun advocates actually are unhinged.

  497. @SPQR – Thanks for the pointer :) He has some interesting thoughts, for sure, but his faith in democracy is alien to me.

  498. @grendlekhan That’s just being a dumbass and counter-productive. He has a concealed carry permit. He knows people are on edge. He elected to open carry to be a dumbass.

    As near as I can tell that’s what’s he’s being charged with. This comes under the heading of carrying a scary looking “head axe” (see Scalia’s comments on gun rights) to freak people out.

  499. Gun ownership should require proof of gun safety training and a reasonable effort to insure that the owner isn’t a felon or whacko.

    This might be arguably acceptable under the concept of a “well regulated militia” if it was not “ownership” but “bearing arms” that had such requirements. After all, I can’t walk down the street with my pistol in hand, nor can I be drunk while armed. I must carry my gun[s] in a passive mode – pocketed, bagged, slung or holstered – and I must remain mentally competent.

    What you describe are essentially the requirements for getting a concealed-carry permit in most “shall issue” states, so consider your wish granted…..sadly you live in MD. Sorry about that. ;)

  500. Nigel, you advocate more than just training and background checks. You say that there’s no reason for people to have high capacity weapons. You say that people who complain about semiauto “assault rifles” “have a point”. You quote a senior FBI agent – almost certainly a political appointee, not a career law enforcement officer – that “these things have only one purpose: killing as many people as possible.” You talk about gun restrictions not having much impact on hunting or target shooting. All of that shows that you’re not talking about the agenda you claim to be talking about.

    You spout gun grabber talking points, and then expect us to believe you’re not a gun grabber?

  501. @SPQR

    You mean ” … all recreational activities approved of by Nigel …”

    It would be easy to refute my assertion by providing a counter example…USPSA is sorta one but you can’t hone or show your skill with a revolver?

  502. Of course you can show your skill with a revolver…and you’ll get creamed by another shooter who may be not as good as you are but can reload one hell of a lot faster, not to mention less often.

    And again you implicitly spout a gun grabber talking point: “Nobody needs more than 6 rounds.”

  503. @Nigel – please consider personal defense against multiple assailants. The more firepower behind your finger without reloading, the better. You don’t get to second-guess the future.

    My ARs do have a primarily utilitarian hunting role, but my ulterior motivation for purchasing them was to have some militia-grade firepower in the event of civil unrest or government violence.

  504. >The problem I see here is that *any* firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine can potentially become a “high capacity weapon”.

    Or modifiable to take a detachable magazine. I saw an article in the late 1980s showing how to modify one of Remington’s inexpensive .30-06 pump action rifles to take a detachable magazine, effectively turning it into the functional equivalent of a Garand or M1A.

    >You spout gun grabber talking points, and then expect us to believe you’re not a gun grabber?

    He’s just a troll, his comments on the newest thread about the similarities shared by the Sony mockup and iPhone are exactly the same sort of whining, repetitive stupidity.

    LOL…THAT’S what you came up with? That’s as lame as some apple fanatics being upset because the judge’s ethnicity is Korean and of course she’s gonna be biased toward Samsung.

  505. You may be interested in a fellow who was arrested yesterday for open-carrying in a movie theater recently.

    Some thoughts on that after reading the article and section of the Thornton Municipal Code in question:

    That was dumb of him.

    Yes, the law in question explicitly states that having a CCW permit is an exception. But not two weeks after events like the Aurora shooting, emotions are still running high. Openly carrying a gun, even if it never leaves it’s holster, can cause alarm. After a nearby and recent massacre, openly carrying a gun is likely to cause alarm. And openly carrying that same gun into a theater, thereby replicating the condition that caused the massacre per the news (gun in a theater), causing alarm is a given. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, even Mapes. The surprise should be a *lack* of panic or freakout on the part of others. He had a CCW permit. He could, and *should* have carried concealed to avoid exactly the situation he’s now in.

    Reading the cited law, I don’t see how Mapes was in violation of any part of it. I don’t think he should be charged, and even if he is, I don’t think the charges should stick. But even if the charges are dropped or he’s acquitted, $DIETY I hope the judge presiding over the case verbally slams for his poor judgement. Actions like this only help the gun-grabbers make their case that no right-thinking, responsible, safe person ever carries a gun.

  506. @nigel:

    “I figured this place could have a semi-reasonable discussion on the matter over the usual gun sites.”

    It generally does. This is also why I posted my 2 criteria for being considered “reasonable”. While not claiming to speak for Jay or ESR, I have reason to believe that if you were able to provide actual data or rationals supporting my 2 criteria, you’d have a reasonably receptive audience.

    As an example: your prohibition on felons owning firearms passes test #1: People who are felons have (generally) demonstrated themselves to be people who ignore major and important laws. In addition, this determination has been made before an impartial magistrate and jury, with the full benefit of the appeals process. Limiting the access of people have been proven to Not Play Well With Others to firearms is a nice bright line. Felon checkbox: yes/no.

    #2: Easier still: People with felony records are typically not allowed to become police officers.

    Ta-da. This doesn’t mean that this is the best option, of course, but merely one which passes the criteria above.

    The mere fact that you are dismissing my request for evidence for a particular value of magazine size restriction shows that you recognize that there is no actual defensible argument here. You just like the idea, even though you have no data to back it up. There’s also no consideration for the costs associated therewith as well. That to me is the antithesis of “reasonable” – we’re going to limit what you can do because we feel like it.

  507. >While not claiming to speak for Jay or ESR, I have reason to believe that if you were able to provide actual data or rationals supporting my 2 criteria, you’d have a reasonably receptive audience.

    I agree. You can argue rationally here and get a receptive audience, but nobody will let you get away with merely pretending to argue rationally.

  508. Nigel wrote: “It would be easy to refute my assertion by providing a counter example…USPSA is sorta one but you can’t hone or show your skill with a revolver?

    Actually, your comment rather clearly establishes my point.

  509. sadly you live in MD. Sorry about that. ;)

    Don’t be sorry…we just won a big case. Of course it’s gonna get appealed but hey. Most folks here are cautiously optimistic.

  510. Eric writes: You can argue rationally here and get a receptive audience, but nobody will let you get away with merely pretending to argue rationally.

    Thank goodness. I was beginning to think “armed citizens > unarmed citizens” was becoming the Buddha no one would kill.

    And I say that as someone who strongly believes it.

  511. >I was beginning to think “armed citizens > unarmed citizens” was becoming the Buddha no one would kill.

    Ah, hell, I can kill that one easily. 3% of ‘citizens’ are criminologically high-deviant. Keeping weapons out of their hands would be a good idea, if the means for doing so weren’t so prone to abuse.

  512. @jay

    Nigel, you advocate more than just training and background checks. You say that there’s no reason for people to have high capacity weapons. You say that people who complain about semiauto “assault rifles” “have a point”. You quote a senior FBI agent – almost certainly a political appointee, not a career law enforcement officer – that “these things have only one purpose: killing as many people as possible.” You talk about gun restrictions not having much impact on hunting or target shooting. All of that shows that you’re not talking about the agenda you claim to be talking about.

    You seem resolute in pigeonholing me into some role that I’m not in nor interested in being in.

    Yes, assault rifles have one purpose: to kill people. Developed in war to be a far more effective infantry weapon than bolt action rifles. That’s the whole point of owning one to defend against tyranny right? You’re just not going to wave it around and use harsh language.

    Sorry that you can’t have it both ways. Reality sometimes sucks.

    I don’t advocate banning any gun. Period. Can’t make it clearer than that. Background checks, training and even evil registration? Sure. Don’t like that? Too bad.

    I can be convinced about registration but there’s just too much black helicopter mind control rays associated with that. We live in america and I fundamentally believe that people here understand and believe in freedom and liberty. These are the same people that are in law enforcement, the military and work in the government. Call me naive but I like it that way.

    Cannon? No (and Scalia agrees). RPGs? Unlike Scalia I say no because that’d just be stupid. Unrestricted ownership of machine guns? Hell no. It good the way it is.

    And don’t call me a gun grabber for being able to face the reality that assault rifles (even semi-autos) are meant to kill people. This is why we equip soldiers with them instead of breadsticks. That’s the intent of the design of the weapon, the round, etc. Optimizing carrying capacity while keeping sufficient battlefield lethality.

    Oh, and when you get your letter of marque you can get your own warship. If not you’re a pirate. And you can own military gear if you’re an accredited “security” company. Blackwater, whatever they are named today (not Xe…something) has quite the arsenal including an APC or two. No tanks but hey…upkeep on those are a bear. Or you can be a big defense contractor. They’ve got lots of toys.

    Now I’m getting irate…which makes this completely not worth the bits. You’re attempting to do to me what Eric did to you (only more belligerently) but wtf, it’s okay when it’s YOUR pet peeve isn’t it? Step back and take a breath.

  513. @jay my last word on this. You aren’t an enemy of liberty and I’m not a gun grabber just because we have a different viewpoint. If you don’t get that, oh well. Not really my problem then is it?

  514. Machine guns, cannons and RPGs will come in rather handy should we ever have to take down our government. Funny how they seem to disapprove of us owning such things….it’s almost like they fear their job security……no, that can’t be it….it’s because they care so much about all the children blowing themselves up because daddy left his bazooka in the umbrella stand.

    Such caring souls. I wuv them to bits.

    Smoldering, charred, bullet-riddled, bloody bits. (I kid, I kid ;)

  515. Nigel: “You seem resolute in pigeonholing me into some role that I’m not in nor interested in being in.”

    It’s really simple, then: If you don’t want to be thought of as a gun grabber, don’t talk like one. Yes, we have a difference of opinion. I reached mine from years of answering arguments raised by people wanting to insist that they’re reasonable while taking unreasonable positions just like yours.

    The flaw in your reasoning is fundamental: You ascribe purpose to a thing. Things don’t have purposes. People have purposes. A thing only does what a person does with it. That AR-15 didn’t shoot all those people. The madman in Aurora did.

    Background checks and training sound good in theory. The problem is that both of them can be used and have been used as a way to deny law-abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms by bureaucrats who are opposed to the idea of citizens owning firearms. If used at all, they must be carefully and completely circumscribed so as to grant no discretion to bureaucrats.

    Registration is a favored tactic of gun grabbers. Why? What’s so wrong with registering firearms? Because every registration that has ever been conducted has led directly to confiscation. There are no exceptions. All registration does is give the folks wanting to confiscate guns a list of people to go get them from.

    So, as I said…you don’t want to be accused of being a gun grabber, sticking your nose under the tent under the guise of “reasonable” regulation? Then quit sounding like one. It’s just that simple.

  516. @dan we live in the best, most free country in the world.

    What makes us free is service to the country and participation in the democratic process, not paranoia.

    As long as we citizens continue to do that I believe we will remain a great nation.

    My kid today said when he grows up he wants to join the military. I said great, join the air force, even though I know he just want those cool guns in the video games.

    As long as our kids keep saying that and enough follow through we’re in good shape.

    I’m tired of cynical assholes that hate America and can’t wait to need to defend themselves from the government.

    You want to know why Dan? Because for their fantasy scenario to occur means my children must suffer civil war. And if my kids do their duty as citizens of this great nation then it is their freverent fantasy desire to shoot them.

  517. Nigel, I’ll thoroughly agree with you about the democratic process…so long as that includes remaining strictly within the Constitution’s limits on governmental power. If you want to claim that there are no limits on the legitimate power of government other than what the electorate calls for, though, then sorry, I can’t agree.

    I have absolutely no desire to defend myself from the government. I fervently hope that never comes to pass, because, as you say, it will mean the breakdown of our country. Even so, I feel it would be even more irresponsible of me not to prepare for the eventuality.

    I would hope that your kids understand that every soldier has the duty to obey his conscience as well as his orders, and in particular not to obey illegal orders. If they follow that duty, then they need fear nothing from me. If, on the other hand, they permit themselves to become instruments of government oppression and denial of the rights the Constitution guarantees to every citizen…then all bets are off.

  518. @jay. Perhaps I was unclear. Everything you just wrote about gun control is something that I could imagine RMS writing about closed source.

    If you believe that I am a gun grabber because I don’t see the camels nose then you should simply accept that Eric is right and you are an enemy of liberty because you see no danger in Apple being the camels nose.

    Any closed source in the infrastructure is the camels nose of electronic tryanny.

    Any gun control is the camels nose of individual tryanny.

    Me, I disagree with both positions. Both closed and open source have an important and necessary role in the advancement of technology. Both gun rights and gun control have an important and necessary role in the advancement of society.

    Both Eric and I are at least consistent in our beliefs.

    I am middle of the road, glass half full, etc. That tends to piss both sides off so you calling me names in an attempt to demonize me is nothing new. You call me gun grabber while your polar opposite would call me war monger/gun fanatic. Neither and both are true.

    No longer irritated but resigned. But really, you should think about whether you feel that disagreement should automatically mean enemy and whether that strategy is counterproductive.

  519. Even I am starting to agree with those others that seem to think that you Just Don’t Get It, Nigel.

    I love America. With a passion that is impossible to convey online. I despise our government, because it is an insult to America. It is the enemy in our midst – the biggest threat to American liberty that has ever existed. I too wish to utilize all peaceful mechanisms at our disposal to remove the cancer and rectify the institution. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations….

    If your kid wishes to serve in the military, I will salute him for doing so. I hope you do your job as a parent and teach him/her the intellectual/moral lessons needed to decide when such service is itself hostile to America….and to walk away from such corruption.

    Patriotism isn’t a team sport. Think about it.

  520. Any gun control is the camels nose of individual tryanny. [sic]

    Correct.

    The moment you legitimize such things, you legitimize the concept that there exists a ‘ruling class’ with the authority to dictate the freedoms of an innocent ‘subject class’ through prior restraint and the rightful application of force.

    And you beckon the end of America.

  521. I am middle of the road, glass half full, etc.

    No.

    As far as I am able to discern, you seem intellectually lazy and unwilling to realize the fullest reality of your political babble.

    Maybe that’s what you think it is to be ‘reasonable’ ?

  522. whether you feel that disagreement should automatically mean enemy

    What a ridiculous claim. Context is everything. I disagree with people about abortion -they’re not my enemy. I disagree with Islamo-nazi ragheads about their claim that I should have my infidel head sawed off – they’re my enemy alright.

    and whether that strategy is counterproductive.

    As far as the “gun control” issue is concerned, my thinking is that the long game is better served by metaphorically smashing GC advocates in the face with the knuckle-dragging imbecility of their position – and let the public see it all. Trying to be ‘reasonable’ will only muddy the waters and confuse many in the general public about what is truly at stake. Presenting a vivid distinction between pro-freedom folks and sociopathic statist fascism will hopefully help sharpen focus on the need to discriminate between the supremacy of the individual over the subordinacy of government servants.

    The real trick is how to present that to people without sounding as full of shit as I do ;)

  523. @jay

    I would hope that your kids understand that every soldier has the duty to obey his conscience as well as his orders, and in particular not to obey illegal orders. If they follow that duty, then they need fear nothing from me.

    I can no longer recall if I mentioned the Free Syrian Army but they formed because they started executing soldiers for not firing on civilians. Likewise, while the guy standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen was brave, the tank commander had to actually not run him over. One wonders what happened to him and the crew.

    If I don’t teach my kids well enough to follow in their and other’s footsteps then it’s on me for failing as a parent.

    You know, if dictatorships run true to form it may not be the military you need to worry about but heavily armed paramilitary militias that do the dirty work for the regime. Sturmabteilung, Alawite Shabiha, Basji, etc.

    A charismatic political leader with the support of armed militia is probably a bad sign.

  524. You know, if dictatorships run true to form it may not be the military you need to worry about but heavily armed paramilitary militias that do the dirty work for the regime. Sturmabteilung, Alawite Shabiha, Basji, etc.

    CONTINUE THAT LINE OF THINKING! THERE MAY BE HOPE FOR YOU YET!

    “….a rifle behind every blade of grass….”

  525. A charismatic political leader with the support of armed militia is probably a bad sign.

    Yeah…perhaps not something we have to fear from our Palooka/Wingnut/Dunce-in-Chief Obama. He’s too ghey to attract the support of militia….unless they’re aboard the Good Ship Lollypop.

  526. “I’m tired of cynical assholes that hate America and can’t wait to need to defend themselves from the government.

    Nigel, government is the greatest single source of violent death of civilians in modern history. Its not irrational to be concerned. The United States is not immune to the danger of out of control government.

  527. @esr> For myself, from now on I plan to willfully violate every “gun-free zone” policy I run across. If enough sane people do likewise, perhaps the next massacre can be prevented.

    Of course, this will only serve to disarm the general population, as they willfully trespass on other’s property, pissing-off the property owner, and allowing the anti-gun forces to correctly label those carrying as you suggest “scofflaws”.

    And we really do want more, not fewer people armed.

    The average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by police: 14.3
    The average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by a civilian: 2.3

    http://silverunderground.com/2012/07/auditing-shooting-rampage-statistics/#more-9446

    The guy isn’t even a gun enthusiast.

  528. People must obey unjust law or fear that they will be dealt with by increasingly unjust law.

    Iron Fist.

  529. Willful violation:

    I am in Texas. Any property owner here may ban the possession of a concealed handgun on his property. This is right, and as it should be. To do so with the force of law, he must post a specific “30.06″ sign at every entrance. Failure to have such signs means that he can only ask me to leave, not have me arrested.

    Other than my workplace – who can fire me for violating company policy – I completely ignore any “no handguns” signs that are not “30.06″ signs. I plan to continue to do so.

    (There is a separate “51%” sign for bars, where weapons are also prohibited by force of law, and I observe and obey those as well.)

  530. I think there’s a more immediate threat from law enforcement agencies than the military when it comes to enforcing tyranny. The history of mistaken, accountability-free, and often fatal no-knock raids speaks to a cavalier attitude about the use of force among certain police departments, while federal agencies that already have a poor track record for accountability, respecting the rights of citizens, and not engaging in frivolous legal action appear to have some direct access to law enforcement personnel, as evidenced by this incident from June 2011, when a man was dragged from his home at 6 in the morning by DoE agents executing a warrant related to his ex-wife. While the integrity of the military could and likely would hold in the event of a violent breach of liberty, the apparent belief among a growing number of police and federal agents that they are above the citizenry seems to indicate that many law enforcement officials would be on the wrong side of the conflict.

  531. >I think there’s a more immediate threat from law enforcement agencies than the military when it comes to enforcing tyranny.

    In their novel, Hope, Aaron Zelman and L Neil Smith claim that police forces (which didn’t exist at the time of the Revolution and the writing of the Constitution) IS the standing army the Founding Fathers warned against. Since in most countries and times, the army has been occupied in enforcing governments’ will on their subjects/citizens, which is why they warned against it, that seems a quite reasonable position.

  532. This may sound like a narky troll, but I ask because I’m seriously interested in the answer:

    Do American pro-gun advocates see a difference in the comparative desirability of general Wild West-style open carrying of firearms (a holster on every hip!) and widespread concealed carry?

    If so, why?

  533. >Do American pro-gun advocates see a difference in the comparative desirability of general Wild West-style open carrying of firearms (a holster on every hip!) and widespread concealed carry?

    Yes. Which would have better outcomes is debatable. Both suppress crime; the debate is whether visible deterrents are more effective than invisible ones. That is, whether the effect on a random criminal/terrorist/psycho of being able to see lots of armed people is strong enough that it trumps the advantages of his not knowing where the guns are.

    I haven’t formed a judgment about this. I think both kinds should be legal and common so that both kinds of deterrent operate.

  534. I’d be partial to open carry, but it might tend to make one a target whereas CC keeps them guessing. My wife’s 1847 Walker is a bit hard to conceal .

  535. TomM, there is a “robust” debate among the firearm enthusiast community about people exercising open carry in an explicit message to the public. Some find it too confrontational and find the tactic unnecessarily offensive. The more aggressive open carry advocates return with arguments about the need to push the boundaries of rights.

    Both sides toss in some extra invective of course.

  536. I open carry quite frequently, but don’t make a special effort to do so. If I’m wearing pants & tucked shirt and need to go out, then my gun will necessarily be exposed. If it’s a little cooler, I’ll wear a vest or jacket and that will conceal it. If it’s insanely hot and I’m in lightweight shorts and t-shirt, then I can use a fanny pack.

    I have never had any ‘bad’ experiences when open carrying. Got questioned by a cop once because some snotty little college twats thought it would be hilarious to call in a “guy with gun” report. I didn’t even show any ID or CHP to the cop, and went on about my business. Must have disappointed those punks…..I’m sure they wanted to see me cuffed. A fella in a NV Costco got killed because of fuckers like that.

    Mostly, people are oblivious. Total condition white. Those that I am aware of as having noticed my gun seem capable of discerning that I do not appear to be a threat. Expensive hardware and respectable appearances do not seem to cause alarm. If I looked like some dumbass 50-cent wannabe, things might be different.

  537. >Mostly, people are oblivious. Total condition white. Those that I am aware of as having noticed my gun seem capable of discerning that I do not appear to be a threat.

    Yup. I carry similarly, usually with minimal concealment, same complete lack of reaction on the street, no bad cop experiences.

    I’ve been told that I look like an off-duty cop, which probably helps with both civilians and police. I guess I radiate “sheepdog”. There’s a surprise, not.

  538. One of the reasons for my questiom was that several comments in this thread have pointed out that concealed carry advocates are generally responsible, “well regulated” types who regularly train with their weapon and take seriously the implications of going about armed with deadly force.

    It seems to me – as an overseas observer not closely invested in the issues – that this point would be more difficult to maintain if you had a population in which open carry was commonplace. Unfortunately for us all, there seem to be a lot more idiots around than we would prefer.

  539. this point would be more difficult to maintain if you had a population in which open carry was commonplace

    No idea why you would think such a thing. The same claim of responsibility among those that carry concealed handguns can be leveled at the general armed population also. Open or concealed, people that lawfully carry guns are statistically the most responsible and lawful demographic – moreso than police.

    Yes, there are idiots. More than I would prefer, yet far fewer than the ghoulish anti-gun voyeurs would have you be alarmed about. C’est la vie. I will not allow the stupidity or criminality of others to become a proscriptive factor in my life.

  540. >It seems to me – as an overseas observer not closely invested in the issues – that this point would be more difficult to maintain if you had a population in which open carry was commonplace.

    Experience in the U.S. does not support this anxiety. There have been in the past many places here in the U.S., especially in the South and West, where open carry was normal. No rivers of blood flowed – in fact, rates of crime and violence in the “Wild West” were a kindergarten party compared to LA or Chicago today. There are still a few rural areas with customary open carry … and, no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention, very low crime rates.

  541. @esr:

    Yup. I carry similarly, usually with minimal concealment, same complete lack of reaction on the street, no bad cop experiences.

    I’m posting pseudo-nymously so as to not “out” Eric. (I’m actually a fairly regular commenter here.)

    I first met Eric in person at a sci-fi con about a year an a half ago. Suspecting (knowing?) that he would be carrying, I made a point to look for his gear. Holster tucked inside his pant’s waistband. Not really concealed. This at a hotel which I’m sure was a “gun-free zone”. Nobody else appeared to notice or care. (Of course, he wasn’t the most exotic looking individual present by a long shot. :-D )

    I’ve been told that I look like an off-duty cop, which probably helps with both civilians and police. I guess I radiate “sheepdog”. There’s a surprise, not.

    More like “retired cop” or “ex-cop”, IMO. No offence intended.

  542. TomM, in places with truly wide open carry laws like Arizona, you really don’t see huge numbers of people open carrying. For the average person, its not worth the inconvenience. You get a couple of oddballs, but they truly are rare and the exception.

    Go visit Arizona sometime, I doubt you’ll find it all that uncomfortable … except for the heat of summer.

  543. According to http://cjrc.osu.edu/researchprojects/hvd/hom%20rates%20west.html, the homicide rate in Dodge City was 165 per 100,000 population (year not obviously stated). I’m not sure of the veracity of wikipedia, but it states that the homicide rate in Chicago in 2007 was 15.6 per 100,000. There could be a huge difference because of the advances in medicine, but the data hints that the wild west was more homicidal than Chicago is now. As Eric intimates, maybe the total rates of crime and violence were lower than current day Chicago. Any thoughts?

  544. I have never had any ‘bad’ experiences when open carrying. Got questioned by a cop once because some snotty little college twats thought it would be hilarious to call in a “guy with gun” report. I didn’t even show any ID or CHP to the cop, and went on about my business. Must have disappointed those punks…..I’m sure they wanted to see me cuffed. A fella in a NV Costco got killed because of fuckers like that.

    There was a case I heard about a couple years ago in Massachusetts in which someone who was concealing a duly-licensed handgun in an IWB holster momentarily allowed it to become visible as he was reaching for a book on the top shelf at a bookstore. This resulted in another patron making a “man with a gun” call, and ended with the guy’s permit getting revoked even though (by the PD’s own admission) he had done absolutely nothing else wrong. Such cases are not particularly uncommon here. The prevailing attitude among police is that bearing arms is a privilege, and that if they ever have to hear about you, then allowing you to retain that privilege is just not worth the hassle.

  545. I think we can categorize killers in 4 general groups:

    1. Those who kill friends & family.
    They are usually committing the crimes in the heat of passion. They will use the best tool at hand and they will very often be very remorseful about what they have done afterwards. Keeping guns away from them would do a bit of good, but not all that much. Since you can’t watch everyone all the time, there isn’t much you can do to prevent these crimes.

    2. Career criminals.
    These people shoot others for reasons of business. Sometimes they shoot to get rid of competitors, sometimes they shoot to make sure everyone knows what mean badasses they are. Sometimes they shoot at law enforcement (though this usually means that the business has failed). To a large extent they are not a threat to the general public, though some people end up in harms way in bank robberies and armed burglaries.

    It is impossible to keep arms away from these people. To counter their homicidal tendencies, you apply traditional police work.

    3. Zealots.
    These are the religious nuts (mainly muslim and christian with a sprinkle of others), the leftist revolutionaries and the nazi/fascist violent right. They want to kill people for a cause and they want to do it in a way so that the entire world notices. It is hard to keep guns from them, but that is not all that important, because they usually prefer to blow things up or hijack airplanes. They work in groups and they plan their attacks. The best countermeasures against them is surveillance and infiltration.

    4. Mentally unstable individuals
    These are people who want to inflict pain on others to get revenge for a feeling of pain that they carry themselves. This is irrational and most often caused by a mental illness – schizophrenia, paranoia, depression or even severe cases of bipolar disorder. In most cases there have been clear signs of the mental illness before the killing spree occurred and I think this is where there is a big difference between the gun laws in the US and most places elsewhere.

    In the US you have the right to own a gun. In other countries, you may have the privilege to own one. In Sweden we have about one gun per capita. Obtaining a gun license takes a bit of time and work. You have to demonstrate skill (in an annual test) to get a permit for a hunting weapon. You have to demonstrate skill and commitment for a competition weapon. This tends to weed out the people with mental illness, because they can’t keep the consistency and interaction required to get a license. If you get hospitalized for mental problems, your license will be reviewed.

    Keeping guns away from insane people is actually a very good idea. It reduces the number of random killing sprees to almost zero. The mentally disturbed killers have a strong affinity for guns. They want to deliver the pain themselves. Squeeze the trigger and see the fear in people’s faces.

    On a totally different aspect – I think the ability to purchase assault rifles is not necessary to retain the rigt to bear arms for the purpose of overthrowing an unjust government. You could just as well have an organized, armed militia with a local leadership. After all, you are not going to overthrow the government all by yourself. You will need quite a few collaborators, who are in agreement. Thus, keeping military weapons under the control of the local militia and only bringing them out for training would accomplish the intents of the founding fathers.

    We have a similar construct in Sweden in the form of the Home Guard. Anyone from the age of 18 can join. You get to practice with full military grade weapons and the command structure is separate from the regular military. Each area, which is about the size of a US county is essentially under its own command, with the officers elected by the volunteers rather than being put in place from above.

  546. Jacob, you give a pretty clear classification in terms of motivation or incentive, I see. In the interest of analysis:

    I think could keep guns out of the hands of career criminals; it’s merely a matter of playing to their business incentives. For example, sufficiently stiff financial penalties for being caught carrying, such that it’s cheaper for them to secure their business through alternative means. Such penalties could also include incarcerating their labor. Of course, the easy response to this is that if you’re going to go through the trouble of disincentivizing their use of guns, you may as well disincentivize their commission of crime and solve that problem altogether. Similar deal with zealots.

    Mentally unstable (as I’m guessing the Aurora shooter was) is different, but Eric addressed that in the buddha killing post – any measure to restrict the mentally unstable would, as the AI researchers say, clobber other goals.

  547. Armored and Dangerous
    The scariest innovation in the Aurora mass shooting isn’t guns or ammo. It’s SWAT gear.

    Essentially, Holmes has called the NRA’s bluff. It may be true that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But the best way to stop a good guy with a gun is a bad guy with body armor. And judging from Holmes’ vest receipt, he wasn’t even buying the serious stuff.

    That’s what Holmes figured out. Defense, not offense, is the next stage of the gun-violence arms race. Equipping citizens with concealed weapons doesn’t stop bad guys. It just pushes them to the next level. The next level is body armor. And unlike missile defense, which has proved to be complicated and disappointing, body armor is relatively simple.

    See also:
    http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/08/lone_shooters_a.html

  548. We shall see, Winter, if this is an escalating trend. If so, I guess I’ll carry something like a FN57. At least armoring yourself effectively is fairly conspicuous.

    You can’t un-ring a bell, but you can pretend that you can…especially if you don’t care about those that will experience the consequences.

  549. @anonymous “I’m posting pseudo-nymously (I’m actually a fairly regular commenter here.)”

    Couldn’t be bothered to actually take the time to figure out who you are, but this would be more effective if you’d not used your regular email, which made your gravatar show up.

  550. Winter, the body armor does not “refute” anything. That’s really an inane argument from Saletan who is always giving inane arguments frankly. At least in his article he concedes that Holmes had other methods of harm besides firearms. But armor itself is not a magic shield.

  551. Even leaving the effectiveness of the body armor aside, which I must because I don’t know enough about the technicals to speak to it meaningfully, there’s no refutation of anything. The question isn’t whether a gun will be a one-shot kill, it’s whether you’d rather confront a goblin in body armor with one than without one. Which is always going to be ‘yes’, unless you’re in a gas-filled room and want to avoid sparks or something.

  552. @Tom Hunt: What you say is certainly true in the case of the Aurora massacre, but depending on what premises you’re packing into the world “goblin”, I’m not sure I agree that it’s true in general. There is at least one large class of violent situation in which I’d prefer not to be armed: the case of a violent but unarmed lunatic against several people who are ready and able to subdue him. Nothing except an empty-handed martial arts response is appropriate in that situation, and having a gun available is a liability because you then have to worry about (a) retaining it, and (b) how it will reflect on you later in the eyes of 2A-hostile investigators/prosecutors/juries.

  553. True enough. There are certainly situations in which having a gun within arm’s reach of a skirmish is a risk. I would submit that the danger from a situation in which an unarmed but violent attacker might gain control of your gun is significantly less than the danger from not having a gun against an already-armed attacker. At least, in the former case, you have the option to simply keep your distance, and if you don’t draw your weapon then the encounter will remain unarmed. (Presumably, insert all necessary disclaimers and circumstantial dependencies here.)

  554. Nothing except an empty-handed martial arts response is appropriate in that situation

    Utter.

    Horse.

    Shit.

    If some nutcase is going crazy – unarmed or otherwise – you can lawfully use deadly force. Going hand-to-hand with someone is very dangerous…there’s no such thing as ‘unarmed’ really, when you consider the ways that a person can weaponize their body.

    Ask a cop if he’ll put his tools away and voluntarily go hand-to-hand with a violent individual. If there is time & space, they may go for a taser, otherwise it’s trigger time.

  555. It strikes me that it’s both morally and legally suspect to initiate the use of deadly force against a violent but unarmed individual, at least so long as they aren’t actively beating people to death. Most of those sorts of people are going to be fighting instinctively unarmed, instead of doing anything particularly martial-arts-ish, and so are not going to be lethally dangerous without a long and gruesome beating. If a person is using kill moves, then yes, treat them like they’ve got a lethal weapon and are using it, because they are. But shooting down someone who’s not actively killing people, and doesn’t have the immediate potential to kill a lot of people in a short time (as anyone with a gun and a few magazines does), shouldn’t be a thing you do easily.

  556. Tom Hunt, the issue is that there are a lot of circumstances wherein an “unarmed” individual will still have a disparity of force over you sufficient to make using a weapon to stop him legitimate.

  557. It strikes me that it’s both morally and legally suspect to initiate the use of deadly force against a violent but unarmed individual, at least so long as they aren’t actively beating people to death.

    Tell that to a woman facing an unarmed rapist.

  558. @Paul Brinkley
    “Tell that to a woman facing an unarmed rapist.”

    She surely will feel better if she shoots the son of the neighbors, or her uncle. However, these will mostly attack when she does not carry her gun.

  559. @Winter – it must be wonderful to be so absolutely knowledgeable about everything…and to be so confident and immodest in your proclamations too. I’m impressed.

  560. Tom – I don’t have much confidence that you really know what you’re talking about. The very fact that you have identified an individual as being “violent” indicates that they have demonstrated their capacity for causing physical harm. You don’t need to be have l337 ninja ‘kill moves’ to do serious harm, or worse.

    Treyvon Martin wasn’t doing anything ‘martial-arts-ish’ to Zimmerman….just decked him and was banging his head into the sidewalk. That kind of physical assault can kill. Justifiable homicide right there.

    I’m not suggesting that you blow someone away for acting huffy. You will always need to justify your use of deadly force. I’m simply pointing out that shooting ‘unarmed’ people can be perfectly defensible. Ask a cop.

  561. Tom Hunt, there was a case not long after one state’s adoption of shall-issue CCW (it’s been long enough now that I can’t remember if it was Texas or Minnesota) where a permit holder shot and killed someone who’d gotten road-ragey on him and was pummeling him through the driver’s side window. Despite an outcry – “you can’t shoot someone for punching you in the head!” – it was found to be a perfectly justifiable homicide, because the guy was in reasonable fear for his life. Yes, you can die from being beaten up that way.

  562. @Dan/Jay/SPQR/etc.: All of you seem to have overlooked the part of my post where I said several people ready and able to subdue the attacker. There are certainly plenty of cases where you can be justified in drawing and using a gun in response to an unarmed assault. But if you already have four against one in your favor… gimme a break.

  563. If he’s already handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police cruiser, you don’t need to draw your weapon either. What’s your point?

  564. A quick comment on SPQR’s asia news link…

    It’s about a 17 year old in northeast China who goes on a rampage, killing 9 and wounding 4 (was 8 and 5, but 1 wounded died a day later), with…. a knife.

    Are we going to start outlawing kitchen knives now?

  565. @Daniel – you’re trying to play that most tiresome of ‘gun control debate’ games….proof by hypothesis. Push a weak scenario stuffed with “ifs” out there and attempt to use it to establish a claim of “there is never an excuse for X”…thereb