Gun Control

This year, the season of Peace, Love, Forgiveness and Redemption has been horribly shattered by the wonton act of a deranged man who inexplicably, chose to take the lives of children to make some sort of statement. It is further shattered by politicians who, living the mantra “it's a shame to waste a good crisis”, are dividing the country even further in the name of “gun control”.

The knee jerk reaction of The Media and Administration is that more Federal “gun control” legislation is called for. That posture assumes that the public is both entitled to protection from it's government and that the government is capable of providing the desired protection. There is a further assumption that legislation can positively affect gun related crime.

Rational thought usually leads to the conclusion that RPGs, fully automatic machine guns, mortars, cannons and the like have little civilian practical use and should be restricted to military applications. Indeed, laws proscribing the civilian possession and use of these and other pieces of “military hardware” have been “on the books” for many years. The debate is not whether firearms as a general class should be outlawed, but which are reasonably owned by the civilian population and how those can be reasonably employed. Few are in favor of a totally disarmed citizenry at the mercy of an armed elite.

Further, questions arise concerning the evolution of society and technology: Has there been a significant change since the last adjustment of laws to warrant a reevaluation of conditions and those resulting laws?

[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/getting-real-with-mass-murder-stats/2012/07/25/gJQA1YY28W_blog.html]Historical data/url] suggests that mass murders of the sort just seen in Connecticut are actually diminishing in our country. The figures available by decade are too meager to conclude with certainty that the “trend” will continue. Indeed, there is insufficient data to even ascribe the reduction in events to an identifiable cause. Even so, statements made by the media and politicians suggesting that our nation is moving inexorably toward lawlessness and frequent mass murders are not supported by facts.

Notions that laws banning firearms will effectively diminish the frequency of their use in illegal ways is also not supported by the data: The “Assault Weapon” [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban]Federal Law/url] was enforced for some ten years with no discernible effect on gun related crime. Indeed, many of the cities in our nation with the most restrictive gun control laws also have the most gun related homicides: Chicago, New York. Detroit, etc. Moreover, the assault weapon law did not outlaw the weapon, only a few add-ons that have little use outside of armed combat: Flash-hiders, grenade launchers and bayonets, for instance.

Gun free zones seem to be a good idea around particularly sensitive areas like schools and government buildings, but the data shows that only those “gun free” areas heavily populated with persons carrying firearms are truly protected. (In courthouses, the entrance is guarded by armed police and inside, lawyers and judges “carry”. Only the general population is subjected to the ban which is often carried to the ridiculous extreme of proscribing fingernail clippers.) Schools, on the other hand, are usually truly firearm free (except of course, during a visit by the local police department – which is usually advertised by a parked police cruiser in a special parking spot reserved for it in plain view near the front of the school). Schools are particularly vulnerable to attack since they are usually openly defenseless.

Some recent actual events involving illegal use of firearms provide insight with respect to the general subject of gun control:

The [url=http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/10/did-colorado-shooter-single-out-cinemark-theater/]Cinemark theater[/url] in Aurora Colorado that hosted a recent mass murder advertises that it is gun free. Seven theaters in the area within a twenty minute car ride from the killer's apartment were showing “Dark Night Rises” that night. Of them, the Cinemark was not the closest theater to the murderer's residence being four miles - eight minutes away. The closest was 1.2 miles, a three minute car ride. The Cinemark was, however, the only one “gun free”.

The perpetrator in the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clackamas_Town_Center_Shooting]Clackamas Town Center [/url]shooting in Oregon was challenged by a twenty-something man who was licensed to carry. The man drew his Glock pistol and aimed at the shooter as he (the shooter) was trying to unjam his weapon in the food court. The shooter saw the citizen and bolted into a Macy's store where he subsequently shot himself. The citizen held his fire because of people behind the shooter in his line of fire. Even so, the armed citizen's very presence may well have stopped a mass murderer in his tracks.

Recently, a jilted suitor in [url=http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/12/17/San-Antonio-theater-patron-gunman-wounded/UPI-81581355749002/]San Antonio, TX.[/url] went armed to the restaurant where his “ex” worked presumably to kill her and whomever else was handy. Firing some thirty rounds, he succeeded in chasing several patrons out the back door where he shot out the windshield of a police car. Going to the theater across the street, he wounded a patron. It was an off-duty Sergeant from the County Sheriff's department who confronted him in the theater men's room, firing her weapon four times and wounding him once. He will be charged with attempted capital murder as a result of the police car shot.

A man was released from jail in Boulder, Colorado just hours before he murdered his girlfriend, two others, and himself with a handgun in[url=http://www.denverpost.com/frontpage/ci_22227218/longmont-shooting-victims-friend-recalls-struggle-remove-her?source=rss] Longmont, Colorado[/url]. The event was heard by a 911 operator as it occurred.

So here's my take:

It would seem to me that every day in our country millions of gun owners don't kill anybody. Those that do, generally break one or more existing laws in the process, suggesting that laws, themselves, are poor deterrents.

The available data -

- Suggests strongly that mass murderers are generally cowards who select victims sure to offer little or no resistance. Those criminals that kill in pitched gunfights are the exception. Most victims of murder are either stalked and taken by surprise or fall before an armed assailant from whom they have no defense.

- Suggests strongly that the presence of known armed police/citizens is a deterrent to random murders.

- Suggests that politicians have no real interest in creating laws that address the problem, rather that they seek “points” from a constituency by appearing to support their cause while passing inane and unproductive legislation.

- Suggests that existing gun control laws already basically address the important issues. Some “tweaking” is no doubt appropriate, but massive overhaul is not indicated.

- Suggests that The Founders were and remain correct in their belief that an armed populace is a safe one.

- Suggests that evil lives among us as it has since the beginning of mankind and that men are fundamentally responsible for their own survival.

Further -

- In Portland, the first law enforcement responder arrived at the mall less than a minute after the 911 call was made. By plan he waited until a number of additional responders arrived before they, as a team, entered the building. The total delay from first shots fired to armed and trained police seeking to confront the perpetrator was only a few minutes. Even so, two people were killed and a third wounded before the killer's gun jammed and the armed citizen spooked him. By the time the police actually confronted the killer, he had already killed himself.

- In Newtown, the police didn't arrive for some ten minutes after the 911 call came in. By that time all of the victims were dead including the killer himself.

The saw “When seconds count, help is just minutes away” comes to mind.

We seem to spend little time discussing the boy in Connecticut that successfully led some of his classmates to safety. We don't find interesting that at least some teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary hid their children in closets and presented themselves as human shields. There are instructive stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in each of the tragedies we experience, but we seem to prefer to downplay that activity in favor of complaining that “our government” has failed us.

I propose we change our perspective and begin discussing ways that ordinary citizens can increase their own odds of survival should the unthinkable come to pass. Many experts recommend “Run, Hide, Fight” as the best strategy: Run if you can. If you can't run, hide. If you can do neither, fight for your life with whatever resources you can bring to bear.

Some citizens are sufficiently comfortable with firearms that they invest the time and expense required to become a trained, licensed carrier of a concealed weapon. The requirements for that privilege should necessarily be subjected to rigorous review periodically as new experiences and information present themselves. While it is both impractical and unreasonable to rely on armed citizens to enforce laws, they have demonstrated their utility with respect to providing time for professional law enforcement to take control. Determining who among us is worthy of the public trust and granted a “carry permit” is a subject that demands continuing debate.

Our children generally cannot be expected to fight an armed adult maniac, but they can be trained to quickly hide when their teacher commands it. It could be made a “surprise” game - - occasionally and randomly, the teacher could, without warning, say “hide” and the children could try to beat their last time getting well hidden. Schools could consider “safe rooms” associated with each classroom – with at least a boltable door. Same goes for offices – if it is difficult to run, prepare by making a place to hide. The few minutes delay presented to the bad guy may well be enough time for real help to arrive.

It's the same strategy that commercial banks have used for many years: Don't guard the public, guard the money. It is impossible to convince an armed bank robber that taking his gun into the bank is a no-no. Moreover, searching every citizen like we now do in Federal Buildings and airports would simply end the bank's business – no customer would stand for it. What the banks have always done is make the money sufficiently hard to get to that help can arrive before the robbers complete their task. It has worked for hundreds of years and has never required legislation regarding weapons.