Saturday, January 19, 2013

A question from a Gentle Reader:

From a Gentle Reader:

"Mr. Dog, I have a question for you. Not being a smartass, I'm truly looking for a more rational response to the Sandy Hook shooting than "arm the teachers", "take away all the AK-47s" or "make it harder to buy and register guns". If I understood the reports correctly, none of those would have helped much. A teacher having a gun and taking a basic firearm safety and usage course doesn't make them a good shot. Frankly, if someone put a gun in my hands my students would be in more danger than whomever I was trying to shoot at, and I'm not alone. (I can aim and shoot a crossbow or a longbow, but a gun? I'm hopeless.) Those weapons were legally owned, registered, and used by Lanza's mother. That her son would steal them, murder her and then to go the elementary school was perhaps predictable, but only in hindsight.

And yet these sorts of atrocities are happening more and more. What is currently being proposed seems like over reaction on both the anti and pro gun sides, but what would you suggest?

Kestrel"


The simple and honest answer? These sorts of atrocities are not happening more and more.

The Curry School of Education has a paper up called "School Violence Myths", in which Myth #4 states that school homicides have been trending downwards from a high of 42 in the mid-90s to two in the most current statistics.

Even MSNBC -- no friend to the Second Amendment -- points out that schools assaults have dropped "by nearly half in the past decade".

Reason.com has an article up titled: "Five Facts About Guns, Schools, And Violence", with embedded links and video.

Reason.com also has an article up which directly addresses your concern, titled: "Are Mass Shootings Becoming More Common In The United States?" with a very good graph.

Mass shootings are not on the rise, and haven't been for ages. What has changed, however, is the sheer amount of coverage these atrocities are garnering (deliberately, in some cases) leading to the incorrect perception that they are happening more and more.

Which is a whole other post.

Hope that helps,

LawDog

25 comments:

Wraith said...

Kestrel, you don't need to be a "good shot." All you need to do is RESIST.

Consider the Clackamas Mall shooting, which happened right around the time of Sandy Hook. Didn't hear much about it, did you? Know why?

The pathetic coward got two people, and then, when an armed citizen drew down on him, he ran off into a stairwell and blew his brains out. How many more would have died if that man hadn’t been there and ready to offer resistance? A lot more than two, I’d wager. Yet, the citizen didn't even pull the trigger.

The scum who perpetrate these massacres DELIBERATELY pick “gun free zones” because they don’t want a fight. They want a shooting gallery, where they can murder as many people as possible before they’re stopped. When they meet up with any real resistance, they fold instantly. It's far better to have the armed resistance already on the scene instead of waiting for the police(you know, people with GUNS).

Only ONE mass shooting in the last 50 years has happened outside a “gun free zone.” That was the Tucson shooting, by a guy who wasn’t simply a rage-filled loser, but a full-fledged schizophrenic. The rest of these murderous cowards may be disturbed, but they’re not literally crazy. They know exactly what they’re doing, and in a civilized society, we wouldn’t put up signs that say, basically, “here’s a whole bunch of targets and there’s no way anyone can stop you. Kill at will.”

Just my opinion.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

"I can aim and shoot a crossbow or a longbow, but a gun? I'm hopeless."

Are you serious? You are a teacher and you are so afraid of an inanimate object that you are "hopeless" shooting a gun? I can't get a longbow to shoot anywhere but in the vague general direction of a target, but I can wield a handgun and a rifle more than adequately to defend myself.

Longbows don't have sights. Pistols and rifles do. Longbows require you to index specific parts of your body in specific places that are different from one person to another. Do you bring your thumb to your ear? The corner of your mouth? Where do you hold your other hand? Does your longbow have an arrow rest or does it require you to rest the arrow on your hand?

I submit that anyone who can manage to hit anything smaller than a house door at 10 yards with a longbow can easily learn the skills necessary to handle a pistol at normal combat distances.

Secondly, why do you assume that the "plan" of "arming teachers" would require you specifically to carry a gun? Did you imagine that we crasy pro-gun types would make it a condition of your employment that you personally would have to carry a gun?

I know that's what the Left tells you, that we evil right wingers will force you to carry a gun against your will, but that's just silly. We just want the teachers, administrators, and staff to have the option. That way at least on, hopefully more, will be on hand to deal with worst case scenarios.

Get someone you trust to teach you how to shoot. Even if you never decide to carry, you could do with getting over your fear of guns. You've been trained to fear, you can be trained not to fear.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add to the pool of meaning hear.

It took 20 mins for police to arrive at Sandy hook.

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/12/us/sandy-hook-timeline/index.html

Secondly, "A teacher having a gun and taking a basic firearm safety and usage course doesn't make them a good shot"

No one has brought up the fact that this happened at a elementary school. While this does not apply at all schools by any means, but at elementary schools the kids are going to much smaller and shorter.

As a result, you probably have from the waist of the attacker to the top of their chest, with out having other kids in the line of fire. Though you would still have the problems of other adults being in the way. In this one instance, though the extra room could help with hitting the target and avoiding collateral damage.

Thirdly, do you think the shooters in these case have much training. You will be at least as good of a shot as they are. Even better if the school allows you to go through the handgun training section that the local police go through.

In other words, guns are really easy to use and use with lethal effects, I not saying your will be a ninja or anything, but lethal is lethal.

Da Curly Wolf said...

My own .02 for what it's worth.
Kestrel I agree with LD and the other posters. If you look them up...most of these guys when confronted with someone who is hunting THEM...they kill themselves rather than face the consequences. If you can aim and fire a crossbow/longbow with accuracy...you can learn to shoot and probably quite well and swiftly...with guns.
I wonder if Anon is right in one thing. do you fear them? If so why? It's an inanimate object no more capable of killing on it's own than your crossbow or long bow.

Try it, take a class, and figure out which caliber, model etc of gun is right for you personally. Hell you may even discover that you're having FUN while shooting at the range

BobF said...

OK, you're put off by what you don't understand and with which you have little experience. Welcome. So what do you tell a student who says that to you? Learn it, understand it, and it will become familiar and less intimidating, perhaps even useful, perhaps even enjoyable. You sound like someone I'd love to take to the range.

Overall, however, I'm not as hot on arming teachers as I am for allowing those who already possess concealed permits to carry on campus. They and I are fingerprinted, background checked, law abiding citizens until we somehow become felon material by stepping over some magic line on the ground near a school.

If we can ageee to do that, maybe other teachers will join in.

Dave H said...

I've been asked by a good friend, "Is the answer to a shooter in a school really more violence?" (Talking about armed guards or school staff.) If a shooter makes it into a school, yes, the most effective counter is another armed person. We're trying to keep that shooter out of the school in the first place, but the last line of defense is someone on the scene with the tools and the will to use them to protect the innocent people there.

As for being unsure about your ability to shoot, do you drive a car? They're both very safe in the hands of a conscientious operator who has had training and practice. In fact, I'd say it's easier to learn to use a gun safely than it is a car, because a car is more complex to operate. Gun safety has been distilled down to four rules that are really easy to remember and practice.

The answer to any security problem is preparedness. Even if you decide to never pick up a gun, think about what could happen and what you can do to prevent it or mitigate it. What could you do if a shooter came into your school? Into your classroom? If you choose to resist, how would you do it? Charge at him? Throw things at him? (Which is what's been recommended as a counter to hijackers - get them off balance and confused until someone can get close enough to tackle them.) Distract him so others can get away? Talk about it with co-workers and security experts. Like they say in Boy Scouts, "Be prepared." The most important part of preparedness is knowledge. (But if you're a teacher, you probably already know that.)

jimbob86 said...

"I can aim and shoot a crossbow or a longbow, but a gun? I'm hopeless."

So ..... because you are not up to the task, everyone else, including the children, must be hopeless and helpless, too?

Don't project your inabilties onto others, please. If someone else is willing and able to do the necessary, we should allow them to do so ....or at the very least, to try. It would be so much more effective for someone to confront the next nutter with a gun rather than harsh words.

Old NFO said...

Gotta agree with the others... And a lot of the 'perception' is nothing more than media hype...

Anonymous said...

I think every adult should be able to defend himself and others with and with out firearms, so I train to do so regularly, with a large group of like-minded friends, plus pay some big bucks to train with recognized professional instructors.

But you know what? There have been thousands and thousands of defensive handgun shootings over the years, and I find it hard to believe that everyone of them spent significant amounts of time training on their handguns.

Look at the gal in Georgia, with her two kids, who hid out in the crawl space. As far as I can tell from the articles, her husband basically trained her, and she did well when it counted.

There's no guarantee that anything will work everytime -- except that if you don't arm yourself mentally and phsyically, you will be guaranteed to be unarmed.

So, Kestrel, you don't have to train to Ninja levels to be effective in the most likely situations. Make up your mind to do it, get a gun and some basic training, and get on with it. Train more if you can, train with empty hands and knives and clubs if you can, but do something.

Eric

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Kestrel,

Thanks for posing your question to LawDog - he's a good guy, and asking questions of those who have a fair bit of experience in the subject is an excellent way to learn.

When I first learned to shoot a gun, the targets at the range were all fifty yards away - far enough I needed a scope or to walk up to them when the range was cold in order to see if I'd hit. When it came to defending myself and others, I figured there was no way I'd be able to pull out the gun, steady my aim, and shoot with any accuracy.

Much later, when talking with a friend who happens to be a SWAT team trainer (I met him through our mutual mechanic), I learned that most defensive gun uses take place at a range much closer to six feet and closing. It's not really a matter of being a good shot, any more than fighting off a drunk would-be rapist with your elbows and nails and knees is a matter of being a trained martial artist - it's having the ability and will to fight back, and the tool at hand.

I don't want people who don't want to carry to have to do so, and no one else I know does either. What I want is for the people who already carry, who have taken upon themselves the right and the burden of protecting themselves and their loved ones, to also be able to protect themselves and the innocents around them in a school.

Look at it this way: in a gun-free zone, when a criminal decides to ignore the sign in addition to deciding to murder people - your first response is to pick up a phone, dial 911, and pray that a law-abiding man with a gun arrives in time. I just want people who take the burden upon themselves of being law-abiding women and men with guns to be down the hall, a few step away, a few lives closer than the nearest cop.

As for training: I used to live in Alaska. Every winter, after the first snow, you'd see people out in the high school and mall parking lots, refreshing their ability to recover from skids, to gauge how long it'd take to stop on snow, and how slowly they had to apply gas or change lanes in order to avoid losing control.

The people who apply for concealed carry permits are often the same people as above: you find them at gun ranges all year round, thinking of what-if scenarios in their daily life and practicing to make sure that if the worst happens, they have already thought about and are prepared to deal with it. That's who I want to have the gun in their hands, not you (no offense intended).

Jeff Wood said...

Kestrel, many words of wisdom above.

I was a resident of Dunblane (if you are too young, look it up). If our nightmare had known that I or someone like me had been at the school, armed, he would not have bothered.

Of course British law at the time made that difficult, and the handgun ban we suffered makes it impossible now.

Spree killers will always choose "gun free", thus for them free fire zones. The point is not to be as expert as I was, but competent, and I am sure you can manage that with proper instruction.

The pinch point then becomes willingness to fight back, which no one can know for sure until the crisis comes. However, few will be unwilling to fight for children.

Anonymous said...

Federal law already allows for arming school employees- so long as they are under contract with the school to be armed ...... It seems to me, that the cheapest solution to this securiy question is to allow selected teachers, administrators and other employees that are willing to carry to do so.

All that is needed is for state laws prohibiting guns in schools to be fixed, and for school boards to figure out who they think is up to the task.

markshere2 said...

The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Ergo, armed cops.

There are lot of good guys in schools and movie theaters and malls, too. There is no rational reason they should be disarmed.

The rules prohibiting firearms in
these locations are irrational. The presence of guns hurts exactly zero people.

The injury occurs when a nutjob, (usually under the influence of s psychotropic drug) violates rational laws against shooting people.

Dave H said...

The rules prohibiting firearms in
these locations are irrational.


The rules prohibiting firearms in these locations are often pushed on them by their insurance companies, who are on the hook if the theater or mall gets sued. If they have a policy of not allowing weapons, they can claim they made an effort to provide a secure environment.

And insurance companies don't give a rat's whiskers about Constitutional rights. They only deal in contract law.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, if someone put a gun in my hands my students would be in more danger than whomever I was trying to shoot at, and I'm not alone.

So because YOU are hopeless with a gun, therefore EVERYONE is hopeless with a gun and should not have one. Right. Got it.

The philosophy behind gun control in one sentence.

Anonymous said...

Kestrel, at the bare minimum, an adult, any adult, ought to be able to clear and make safe a firearm. Once you learn that, you're just about half way to enjoying an afternoon out plinking with a .22, although that's up to the individual.

You're an American citizen, and in the absence of proof that you cannot be trusted with firearms, I trust you with one. I require the same consideration from every one of my fellow Americans. Not that every other American returns the sentiment, but we don't live in Heaven.

Mike James

Kestrel said...

First - I did NOT say that because I could not trust myself with a firearm, no one should be trusted. I said that because I do not trust myself with a firearm, I should not be forced to carry one. I was asking for information. Mockery is not helpful.

Several of my neighbors are in fact saying that all teachers should be required to be armed. (They were real-life discussions, so no links available.) If it's made an option instead of a requirement, that's a completely different issue.

Yes. I'm afraid of an inanimate object, or more accurately of its potential. Trauma will do that to some people, myself among them. That's why I'm asking questions of people for whom guns are not only familiar, but appreciated. Part of that is how I was raised, part of it is a hold-over from an abusive partner, and part of it is a physical flinch at the bang and shell casing being ejected that I never got past.

BobF, if you were in NW Indiana, I'd let you take me out and teach me; you sound like you'd be patient and thorough, and that's what it would take for me to learn.

To whomever asked - one of my bows has an arrow rest that I do not use, as it's right handed and I'm left-handed. The other has no arrow rest. Either way, I hold the arrow between my first 2 fingers.

So I'll toss out another question, because I don't believe everything I read or hear. To be used legally, a car must be registered. To obtain a driver's license, you have to pass a test. Is there a problem with similar requirements for owning a gun, or for obtaining a permit to carry it? And if so, what is it?

joe said...

Kestrel,
In reference to comparing guns to cars. First: there is no registration/testing/anything required to own/operate a vehicle on private land. Second: my VA driver's license and vehicle registration are recognized 100% in ALL communities in ALL 50 states and the District of Columbia. So we're not really comparing apples to apples here.

As for problems with such an arrangement, the main one for many is that some politicians and lobbyists have for years been calling for outright confiscation of some or all guns. For that reason, any law that puts tools in their (the politicians') hands to make such a confiscation easier will be resisted.

You might also check this out:
http://www.munchkinwrangler.com/2013/01/07/the-right-to-own-and-drive-cars/

Anonymous said...

Additionally, driving is a privilege. Owning a weapon, any weapon, is a right.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

Let’s take your points in order.
There are only two possibilities. First, that you believed that carrying a gun would be a requirement, rather than a option, or second, that you believed that since you were not capable, no one was. There really aren’t any other options. Most people naturally took the second option because the first is completely ludicrous. No one can force you to carry a gun as a requirement of being a teacher. It’s not us, the gun owners, who are telling you that our proposals would require you to carry, it’s the anti-gun people who are claiming that. If your neighbors are saying that, tell them off for me. They can wish that all teachers were armed the same way I can wish for a unicorn. It’d be nice, but not likely.

Physical flinch is absolutely normal. It isn’t a problem at all. There isn’t a human alive who didn’t start off with a flinch. Having an explosion happen in your hand is not exactly a normal thing. As for abusive partners, we can’t help you. We can only point you in the direction of those who have dealt with those sort of issues. The “how you were raised” part is also normal. I can only tell you that when you were taught it was wrong to hurt others, it was a lie. In most normal circumstances, it is wrong to use force against another person. When the choice is your harm or harm to those you have a responsibility to, it is not only moral and legal to use force, it is your plain duty to use force. That includes deadly force. This is a serious issue and causes more problems than learning the mechanics of shooting a gun. Do not think we underestimate this at all. We have mostly moved past it, but we ALL have had to deal with it. You have a right to live. Your students have a right to live. Anyone who threatens that right has forfeited his right to live. He has placed himself outside of all civilized limits and you owe him no duty at all. You should use the means at hand to end his attack on you and on your students. If that results in his death or serious injury, it’s his problem. He placed himself in that position. He bears the responsibility and therefore the consequences. This is a serious moral issue and you should spend some serious time examining it.

I asked the questions about the bow to illustrate the fact that I know full well how difficult it is to shoot a bow. It’s VASTLY more complicated than figuring out how to shoot a gun accurately. If you can shoot a bow, you’re going to be pretty good with a gun.

I’ll echo the statement of the prior commenter. A car only needs to be registered if you use it in public. I can buy a car from anyone, take it to my property and build a racetrack to drive it on all without having registered it. I can build as big an engine as I like, drive it as fast as I want, and never tell the government a single thing about it. That registration is simply a way for the government to assess road taxes. Secondly, arms are Constitutionally protected. It’s not the same thing at all. I would like you to read Michael Z. Williamson’s take on what would happen if we treated car ownership just like we currently treat gun ownership in the US.
http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/we-need-to-regulate-cars-the-way-we-regulate-guns

Kestrel said...

Thanks - I hadn't thought of talking to Mike. (Yes, I know him, have for years. He's a regular at Midwest S.F. cons, and the person from whom I've bought about half my collection of sharp pointy metal things of varying lengths.)

The concept is ludicrous only if you're well informed on the topic. I'm not. I know I'm not. That's why I'm asking questions. If I say something that seems stupid to you, it's out of ignorance. I don't know what you know; I don't know what your base assumptions are. What I said, specifically, was "I'm not the only one." Never once said, thought or implied "if I shouldn't no one should".

Good point about comparing apples to not-apples. I had not thought of it in those terms.

You all given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

Erik said...

The others have said most of it. I do have a few things though.

First, the antis are the ones that push requirements, not the pro-side. The antis (and the left in general) want all people to follow what they say, no personal choice allowed. The pro-gun (and all freedom loving people) want people to make their own decision, and are fine if people themselves choose not to carry or excercise other rights. Freedom loving people want people to decide for themselves.

As for good or not good with a gun. I doubt it matters in your situation. What matters is the will to defend yourself. In a situation like a school shooting, you will probably be in a classroom, waiting for a shooter to enter. You can simply sit down on the floor beside the door and wait for him to open the door, and you'll have him at contact distance. Push the gun upwards into his body and pull the trigger, impossible to miss. Or if you are further back, a few shots towards the door will make him turn away even if you dont hit him.

But I have yet to see anyone that cant be taught to hit a mansized targets at room distances in a few hours. I mainly teach bullseye shooting at 25m, and most people can hit a mansized target holding the gun with one hand at that distance within an hours practice. Practice once a week for a few months and they'll be able to make headshots at that distance every time.

To me it's an easy choice. I just imagine myself in that classroom, hearing shooting getting closer and closer and looking at the door waiting for it to open. Then I ask myself; "would I like to have a gun at this point?" My personal answer is "yes", and it's my hope (not requirement) that anyone I entrust a child to would answer that as well.

Rey Brandt said...

Not sure where in NW Indiana you are but my family and I go to Winamac FWA when we get a chance. They have some nice ranges and they are free. A good site to ask questions is http://ingunowners.com/forums/index.php and http://www.corneredcat.com/Contents/ is a good site with lots of information written by a lady that knows her stuff. Knowing that you don't have all the answers but showing a willingness to learn is the path to take. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

This brings to mind the infamous Hearst line, "You furnish the pictures; I'll furnish the war."

Nice to know journalism is as yellow as ever.

Anonymous said...

This may have been mentioned before, but I'll say it again just in case: Two adults shooting at each other and potentially causing collateral damage is better than one adult shooting anyone in sight until he or she runs out of ammo/is killed