I thought twice about writing this article today. When I’ve had such feelings, I’ve found it’s a sign that the article is either going to be really good or really bad. We’ll see which way this one goes.
I feel obliged to write about the Newtown, CT shootings on Friday. Unlike many people, I’ve been to Newtown (not often, but a couple of times). My wife has friends there from when she lived in nearby Danbury. There’s a place called King’s that has a fantastic breakfast about 5 miles from the elementary school.
What am I going to write about that you haven’t already read or heard? My reaction on Friday was just of speechlessness. There’s really nothing to say. You can’t fix anything. It’s a helpless feeling.
My wife waited and waited to see the list to see if she recognized any names. When the list finally came out she didn’t recognize any of them. My response: “Well that’s a… ummm… thing. I guess.” I certainly couldn’t call it a “good” thing.
I found out about the shooting in probably an unusual way. My wife and I were running around town getting errands done after our move across country. I was checking my email and I got an alert that a friend who doesn’t update his Facebook very often made an update. He was at a loss on how to keep his kids, same age as those in the Newtown school, safe. What does he do when he’s taken all the precautions such as move to safe town with good schools like Newtown? He asked what nearly every working parent must have asked, “How do I go to work and be productive know that this can happen?”
My only rational thought is that you can’t let it impact you. Easier said than done, I know. However, airplanes crash sometimes, and people still fly. Disgrunted workers have shot up their workplaces. There have been mass shootings at at least one fast food restaurant and movie theater. People still go to those places. While the threat of danger is always going to present, we must remember that it is infitisimal. (I’m tempted to make a comparison about winning the lottery here, but let’s not mix the good infitisimal chances with the bad.)
Thoughts on Gun control
There’s been a lot of talk of gun control and mental illness, so I thought I’d add my two cents in.
I haven’t listened to a lot of the gun control stuff. I’m not a gun person. If you are one, that’s fine, good for you, I support your right to bear arms. However, I saw that Sean Hannity made some comments that I simply found puzzling. (I had no idea who this guy was until driving across the country and found his radio show with what seemed like one train wreck of a segment after another). He made a comment along the lines that since tire irons and knives can also kill people maybe we should ban those too. Rush Limbaugh made a similar remark in response to Bob Costas’ talk about gun control on Sunday Night Football before Sandy Hook happened.
I’ve got an opinion where you draw the line, but you can’t put a tool like a knife or tire iron being used for an unintended purpose in the same classification with a gun. While I can respect one’s opinion that they need a gun for protection, I can’t understand how that would apply to a semi-automatic gun. Maybe I don’t follow the news close enough, but I’m not sure the last time someone got in a situation domestically where the right answer was a semi-automatic gun. And if someone is going to take the discussion to the tire iron level, you might as go in the direction and demand that everyone have access to bazookas and rocket launchers.
A lot of people will say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” There’s some logic there, but do you really think Sandy Hook would have had the same outcome if Adam Lanza came in with a tire iron?
Thoughts on Mental Illness
I’m going to start off by saying read this: ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America. It’s a great article. It tells of a story of a mother who has a child with mental illness. Most of the time he’s great, and insanely brilliant, but a small amount of the time he’s a ticking time bomb… almost like a real life River Tam.
It seems like there should be some resources for her, but it sounds like she’s explored them and come up empty. With all the talk of the fiscal cliff and the idea of reducing spending, where do we come up with the money to solve this problem? Or do we just punt on it, save the money instead of helping those with mental illnesses and risk further Sandy Hook incidents?
Strangely, it seems those who are strong advocates of gun ownership are also on the side of focusing on cutting spending with the fiscal cliff. I can’t imagine they think is seriously a winning combination. It almost reminds me of some friends in college who wanted to have a candlelight keg party… open flames and drunk people, what could possibly go wrong?
What Can Be Done?
In the end, I think that to some degree there’s always going to be a danger of a Sandy Hook incident. You can take a lot of steps to minimize it, but as Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the Challenger explosion, we better get used to the possibilities of such disasters. (I highly encourage you to read that article.)
Sometimes I think a lot of problems can be better understood with a simple baseball analogy. Home runs happen when either the pitcher makes a bad pitch or a hitter has a great swing… but most often it’s a combination of the two. If you have a great pitcher who is on his game, he probably won’t give up a home run. If you have a great (power) hitter, he’ll probably end the season with his fair share of home runs.
When I think of what happened in Sandy Hook, you had a combination of a great hitter and a poor pitcher… mental illness combined with access to guns with the ability to kill large amounts of people in a very short time. Just like in baseball, it may be possible to prevent home runs with a great pitcher, but nothing is perfect. Maybe you can try to eliminate the great hitters (this is where my baseball analogy breaks down a little, because there’s little you can do about the other team having good hitters), but that’s not a perfect solution either.
However, if you work on both, and are successful, maybe you can limit the Sandy Hook incidents.
I wrote on the same topic today.
About 1% of homicides in the 5-18 age group occur in school-related settings. In the last year where good stats are available, 17 were killed at school and 1500 overall.
Lazy – here’s one idea I thought of that I’ve yet to hear mentioned anywhere in the media (although I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it) and that is this: Make guns and ammo unaffordable through taxation?
We use tax policy in this country in an attempt to manipulate all kinds of behavior. We place high taxes on those things we (society) disapprove of, i.e. cigarettes, alcohol, etc. and reward with tax incentives behaviors we approve of, i.e. home ownership and family formation. Why then do we not tax the hell out of firearms and ammunition to the point that murder becomes unaffordable for the masses?
The average handgun today is viewed as a “gadget”, no different than an iPod or a smartphone … it is a commodity item that can easily be bought by anyone with a few hundred bucks in the pocket at your local Wallmart. But what if there was a 3000% tax rate on that $200 gadget (weapon) that made the actual cost to buy it closer to $6000 dollars? Or better yet, what if we taxed ammunition making the cost of each bullet $1500?
Here’s my question … how many mentally disturbed juvenile delinquents could afford to buy a $6000 dollar handgun? How many 20yr old inner-city, unemployed, wannabe gangsters could afford to shoot that gun if bullets cost $1500 each? For that matter, how many part-time substitute teachers could afford to buy and have laying about the house a Glock, Sig Sauer, and Bushmaster assault rife along with a couple thousand rounds of ammo? eh?
Bottom line, people would be far more judicious about discharging their weapon if they had one knowing they’d go broke by using it. If it cost $9000 to fire 6 bullets I bet far fewer bullets would be flying around indiscriminately. There would be a huge financial incentive to keep those expensive bullets chambered …where they belong.
This new tax would also be a new source of revenue for a government drowning in debt. State and local government are desperate for revenue too, and gawd knows lawmakers are experts at scheming up new tax laws as well as very proficient at implementing them. As a matter of fact, creating new taxes is the ONE thing government is actually good at.
Let’s face it, hand gun manufactures are not going to stop making guns, the gun lobby is not going to stop buying senators, and congressmen are not all of a sudden going to get a backbone and do the right thing. And turning the Second Amendment on it’s head is NOT a good idea for a whole host of reasons to involved to get into here. However, taxing the weapons and ammo would not effect our right to bear arms, nor would it require an amendment to the Constitution, would require very little action from our congressmen, and most importantly, it would demand nothing whatsoever from a multibillion dollar industry that profit from dealing in guns/ammo.
If gun ownership became so cost prohibitive, because the taxes that were so onerous and burdensome, and discharging of those guns so expensive, that only a small percentage of the population could actually afford to have and use them, then perhaps fewer people would have guns and even fewer still would be able to afford to use them.
That’s my 2/cents.
Lazy Man says
Well, didn’t Adam use his mom’s gun? Maybe she couldn’t afford the tax though.
I think the NRA would have a lot of difficulty with a prohibitive tax. Also gun and ammo companies would probably be pretty upset that for every bullet they sell for $10 (I really don’t know the price of ammo, just guessing) the tax is $1500. What would that do to their business? It doesn’t demand anything from a multibillion dollar industry, but it probably kills it.
What about the black market, people sneaking in bullets from other countries. I realize that might be a small number and at least it limits the access to bullets. However, you create a group of haves and have-nots. Maybe you create a problem where the very rich can afford guns/ammo and the shady people who know how to work the black market. That leaves a wide group of the 95% in the middle who don’t have access to guns and perhaps couldn’t defend themselves if they need to.
I don’t think you could have expressed your feelings and walked the line between expression and offense any better. Nice blogging :) I wholeheartedly agree too. It’s the ability to kill so many in such a short period of time that I have a problem with. Combine that with tactical gear where no one can take you down and we have a problem. Now that it appears that this is a trend, we need to come up with some sensible response. It’s one thing to go after people you know, but quite another to go after people you don’t who are watching a movie or 1st graders and teachers. It’s not like my little revolver could have taken either shooter down. I don’t want to live in a place where we all upgrade to big ammo clips. I just don’t…
Meghan from CO
Yes, Adam used his moms guns, but my point was that if guns and ammo cost 1000’s of dollars vs. a few hundred, would Adams mom have kept these expensive and rare items locked them up because of there extreme value, or perhaps, on a substitute teachers salary she might not have been able to afford to own them in the first place. Who knows?
Yes, the NRA will not like a prohibitive tax, but so the hell what? Yes, they’ll be upset, and no doubt the scream bloody murder, but better that than the commission of a bloody murder! Right? The foundation of the NRA’s argument is the Second Amendment … taxing guns and ammo will force them to come up with another argument.
Yes, the black market will become more active, but a newly imposed gun-tax will drive up the price of black market goods just as retail goods. Increasing the costs of gun use and ownership is the entire point of my thesis. ALL guns and ammo become expensive, therefore fewer people have access to them. This is a good thing.
Yes, we are talking the halves and have-nots …and many more people will NOT have guns. Maybe only the richest 1% will have them. How many news stories have you heard where a millionaire shot up a movie theater or schoolhouse? We have unfettered democracy in the gun markets now where anyone and everyone can get a gun. Is this what we want? How is this working out for us? Personally, I’m okay if only “the 1%” had guns …and 99% didn’t.
And finally, yes, I’ll give you this … none of my suggestions offer a perfect solution. Both action and inaction on this topic is fraught with difficulty and peril. But seeking nirvana … or a solution that will make everyone happy is nothing but an exercise in wishful nonthinking.
One more thought on the topic …
Gun-toting Americans see ANY changes to gun control laws as an attack on the 2nd Amendment crafted by our founding fathers, who proudly carried guns, respected others’ rights to do so, and felt it necessary to have guns to defend themselves against their government. I get this argument, however, in 1776 guns were “just a little different” than they are now.
At the time of the American Revolution (when the 2nd Amendment was written) the state-of-the-art weapon of the day was either primitive single-shot flintlock musket or a pistol. You had to reload after each shot and reloading was a time consuming process of pouring loose black gunpowder into the muzzle followed by inserting a solid lead ball, then using a ramrod to press the projectile onto the propellent charge. The expert marksman could fire up to 3 ROUNDS PER MINUTE!!!!
For those of you that choose to argue that the right to bear semi-automatic or automatic assault rifles that can fire HUNDREDS OF ROUNDS PER MINUTE is “what the Founding Fathers wanted” seems to me to be a disingenuous argument completely lacking common sense, while conveniently ignoring both history as well as the tragic reality we face today.
Tommy Z says
The purpose of semi-automatic weapons to defend ourselves from our own government – whom have the really big and powerful guns.
The 2nd amendment is not about hunting. It is about protecting yourself from armed soldiers.
Lazy Man says
Our government has access to dangerous chemical weapons and even strains of dangerous viruses too. I suppose everyone should have access to them as well. I wonder if it is legal to buy the same quality fighter jets and tanks that the military have for protecting myself.
Lazy Man says
From a practical standpoint, do you think people are more fearful of soldiers shooting you with semi-automatic weapons without just cause or the weapons being used by the mentally ill to shoot hundreds of innocent people?
Tommy Z says
It’s not the same logic. Just because the government has chemical/biological weapons, nukes, etc doesn’t mean each individual citizen needs them. Your not going to defend yourself from a group if SS approaching by sending a virus their way..,likewise you aren’t going to Nuke your own neighborhood either..,it doesn’t make sense. However if makes perfect sense to have assault weapons ready for defensive purposes.
Because assault weapons are legal, I’m more afraid of mentally ill people using them against me vs the government…although I’m not that fearful of either right now. Try asking that question to a Jew in Nazi Germany and you’d get a much different response!
Lazy Man says
You aren’t going to be able to defend yourself against the helicopter with machine guns and bombs. Even with assault weapons, it is pretty unlikely that you are going to defend yourself against a S.W.A.T. team with the same weapons. My point is that a successful defense is essentially a pipe dream.
With that being the case, I see no benefit and obviously a very large negative.
I know probably over a hundred Jewish people, some of whom had relatives in Nazi Germany. Not one of them even owns a handgun to my knowledge.
Lazyman, I totally agree.
And apparently, that psycho’s mom probably would have been able to afford the tax, as she didn’t want for much. Her very successful ex husband said that she wouldn’t have to ever work, and she was known to be very generous. A supposed tax of that sort may stop a psycho pauper, but this horrible tragedy would have occurred nonetheless.
Tommy Z says
It’s like catch-22. The need to own guns in the USA is less simply because they are legal and so many other people have them…I think roughly 40% of households have at least 1 gun. This acts as a deterrent and check on the government, as well as criminals (in some cases) to where the other 60% get a free rider benefit. Nobody needs a gun until you do….that is the paradox.
Is one lone father going to protect himself from a helicopter with machine guns and bombs? Doubtful. However, what if the neighborhood, state, or country of regular citizens got together to defend themselves? Even though the citizens have inferior weapons to a well funded military, the sheer number of citizens would stand a chance vs. the significantly fewer/smaller military. However, if you take all the guns away from the citizens and they have not much more than sticks and stones to throw, that simply is not going to do it.
Regarding taxing guns/ammo to a point that very few could afford them, it would be unconstitutional. Look at the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding Obamacare and the individual mandate (tax) that comes along with it. The Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate forcing people to buy insurance was constitutional because the tax was low enough (and can be avoided entirely by simply decreasing your IRS withholding so you get no income tax refund) that it would not effectively change people’s behavior.
Tommy Z says
Contrarian – the founding fathers wanted the citizens to be defended from the government. Citizens on 1 end at 3 rounds/min vs. soldiers on the other at 3 rounds/min is a fair fight.
Now, the soldiers have far superior weapons vs. the average citizens.
Unless you limit the firepower of the military, banning assault weapons is going in the wrong direction.
Lazy Man says
I’m not sure 40% of households have at least 1 gun. If so I must have come across a pile of odd people in my life with only one person I’ve ever known with a gun… and it was for hunting, not protection.
I’m not sure if a neighborhood is going to get together and defend themselves against the government either. Again, a small targeted bomb ends that revolt pretty quickly. As far as a whole state or country defending themselves from the government, I really don’t even know how that would work. I can’t imagine a scenario where the government says, “We need some excitement, so we’re just going to mount an offensive against North Dakota.”
I think it’s worth noting that from a practical standpoint, times are significantly different than they were in the 1770s. Soldiers today will always have far superior weapons than the average citizens… at least until you give the average citizen the helicopters, tanks, and other stuff. You can’t limit their firepower, because then the country goes unprotected from outside threats and both the soldiers and the citizens are in danger.
The founding fathers might have thought differently about things if the result was that some loon could kill dozens of people relatively quickly. In their time this wasn’t a risk that needed to be taken into account in drafting a bill.
Tommy Z –
Sorry, but you’ve misinterpreted the Supremos ruling on Obama Care, so you’re argument that a gun tax is unconstitutional doesn’t hold up.
In my example of taxing guns/ammo, there would be no requirement for people to buy guns and if they didn’t they would be taxed. There would be no “individual mandate” in my gun tax requiring all Americans to purchase a gun or pay a “shared responsibility payment” to the government – this is at the heart of the controversy with Obama care and was the focus in the courts ruling.
If you want to get granular, the court ruled that the government’s argument—that the mandate represented a tax on people who choose not to buy health insurance—“makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.” Under this approach, the court ruled that the penalty the law imposes on people WHO DON’T buy health insurance “looks like a tax in many respects,” and that it is permissible under the court’s previous case law because the amount of money due is “far less than the price of insurance” and it is collected by the IRS under normal means of taxation. The court acknowledged that the mandate “is plainly designed to expand health insurance coverage,” and noted that “taxes that seek to influence conduct are nothing new”—for example, the taxing of cigarettes to discourage smoking.
As for you and your neighbors defending yourself with assault rifles against the US military … well, all I have to say is good luck with that!
Seriously, let’s get real. If the government’s intent was to destroy you, they wouldn’t send the military to bomb your house and invade neighborhood with ground troops. The way they’ll get you is the government will keep passing laws that will eventually destroy you. They slowly strangle you like a boa constrictor around your neck, using the rule of law, capital controls and taxation (they are doing this now) to choke the life out of you. And your stockpile of guns and ammo may make you feel safer, but your feelings aren’t facts, and the fact is your guns aren’t going to do a damn thing to save you from our out of control government. The only way to defend yourself against big government is to use your head … not a gun.
I understand the feeling people have of “do something”, just not sure that making particular weapons illegal will help prevent another mass killing any more than making certain drugs illegal or taxing alcohol and cigarettes prevents addiction. Please do not mistake passing legislation to feel safer with actually being safer. We are still more likely to lose a loved one in a car accident or swimming yet we still drive and still put pools in our yards. For disclosure sake we do not own any guns or a pool because the odds of harm out weigh the benefit, driving though remains a daily chore.
As for revamping the mental health system, not sure the sane will ever be able to accurately judge the future behavior of the insane any more than a palm reader can predict your future.
Lazy Man says
I’d put making semi-automatic guns in a different category than drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol. For the most part the typical worst case scenario with someone abusing them is hurting themselves. Yes there are drunk drivers and probably drugged drivers (though I’m not really aware of this as much) that kill others… but it clearly isn’t anyone’s intention when getting those substances.
If semi-automatics were illegal and Adam Lanza tried to get one, I would hope that it wouldn’t be that easy to get on the black market. He might not even have access to the black market. One of the big problems in my view is that there was a combination of mental illness and easily available semi-automatic weapons. If you take away either one, it probably doesn’t happen. I don’t know how you take away mental illness because you don’t often see this kind of thing until it is too late. I have a little more confidence in the sane judging future behavior than you do, but like you, I don’t know if we’ll ever be accurate enough. That’s why I’d like to focus on taking away the semi-automatic guns. It is a more practical solution vs. predicting the future.
Much like your swimming and car analogies, I made the point that people still die in plane crashes and yet people still fly in the article. I’d like to point out that cars and planes are productive forms of transportation much of the time and swimming is a fantastic exercise and may even save more lives by giving people a good way to cool down on extremely hot days. It’s not like a semi-automatic gun has the same productive use and is used billions of times each day without a problem like cars, planes, and pools.
Tommy Z says
The 40% stat is based on this graph:
Chances are that the government will not mount an attack on North Dakota or anywhere – provided people still have guns. Having a well armed public simply prevents the situation from occurring in the first place. With the public disarmed, it would be another story. If the average citizen wanted to buy a tank or helicopter, I don’t have a problem with it…however they are very expensive and it is more likely that a local group of citizens or a state/county government might buy it.
Lazy Man says
I’m pretty sure guns aren’t the reason why the government hasn’t mounted an attack on North Dakota or another state.
So we keep tanks and helicopters out of the mentally ill because they are expensive. Sounds like Contrarian is on to something with making similar mass killing machines like semi-automatics too expensive too. Citizens would still be able to protect themselves… if they could afford to.
Tommy Z says
I didn’t say that guns are the reason the government hasn’t mounted an attack on North Dakota, but rather guns are something that would prevent that from happening…if it was something that was going to happen otherwise (not likely).
Tanks and helicopters are expensive because of the resources it takes to produce them which is different from artificially increasing the cost of guns/ammo via taxes.
The truth is that semi-automatic firearms are not mass killing machines anymore than running your car into a crowded street full of people can be…or using a bomb…or anything else along those lines.
It’s just ridiculous to blame killings on inanimate objects!
My whole take on the situation is that what happened at Sandy Hook is a tragedy and it’s unfortunate it happened, but in a way, that is the price we pay for liberty – and it’s a bargain. The odds of any one individual getting killed in a school shooting are infinitesimal…just like getting struck by lightning.
If my choice is to pick a few shootings here and there or a massive roundup like Nazi Germany, I’ll take my chances on the shootings.
Lazy Man says
If it’s not likely that the government is going to mount an attack on North Dakota, I don’t think we need to have pay price of Sandy Hook for that “insurance.” And again, people in North Dakota would still have guns just not semi-automatic ones. So a state of people with regular handguns would still probably do a good job of defending themselves.
Cars are used millions of times each day for the very productive purpose of transportation. If their only use was to run into a crowded street full of people, I’d be against them too. It’s not like I can ride my semi-automatic gun to work. They aren’t like a knife or a hammer that are used millions of times to cut a food into small pieces or building homes, but can obviously be used to kill people.
I’m against making bombs available to people too. I didn’t know I had to say that. If you really believe that we shouldn’t blame on inanimate objects you should be supportive of everyone having access to a button that would launch nuclear bombs all over the world. They would be inanimate objects. When some idiot presses the button to destroy the world because their girlfriend dumped them, you might change your mind and say, “You know, yeah I blame that jerk for killing everyone, but perhaps it wasn’t a smart idea to give everyone the easy access to the tool to end the world.” I’m not trying to paint a realistic scenario here, but show that you most certainly can put the blame on inanimate objects… or more accurate the people that allow people to access to the inanimate objects.
I mentioned that the odds of getting killed in a school shooting are infinitesimal in the article. I would put the odds of the United States of all places becoming like a Nazi Germany (especially considering that the US were one of the main leaders it putting down Nazi Germany) far, far, far below that. I think most people would think there’s a greater chance of me Barack Obama and blogging as Lazy Man all these years. The last really oppressed group that I can think of in the United States, gay and lesbian people, are increasingly seeing the hate go away and acceptance of their lifestyle. I don’t think you could get a more opposite society than Nazi Germany than what we have in the United States.
I can’t share your belief that you have to choose between Nazi Germany and mass kindergarten school shootings.
Tommy Z says
Im against giving everybody access to nukes because they are offensive weapons only..,they cannot be used in a defensive way for an individual. Assault weapons can be used defensively and can target specific threats vs destroy entire cities.
I believe the odds of the USA becoming like Nazi Germany are extremly high…we lose more and more freedom every year and nothing in the past 100 years has ever reversed that trend. The only thing preventing an outright dictatorship is that our economy is still limping along….once unemployment nears 30-50%, the stuff will hit the fan.
IMO, the group most at risk for oppression is Hispanics. Some leader will claim that they came to our country illegally, stole our jobs, and collapsed our society by living on government entitlement programs. They will be blamed the same way the Nazis blamed the Jews for their economic problems. Decent people like us will be helpless to do anything other than watch the atrocity if we are not properly armed.
Lazy Man says
I’m not sure how assault weapons are defensive. The every definition of assault is offensive. Countries for years have used nukes as a defensive weapon. Don’t nuke me and I won’t nuke you… the defense is having a nuke of your own. My history is extremely poor, but it seems like there was a whole Cold War around this sort of thing. Now that’s clearly not on an individual level, but my point wasn’t about individuals, but that you simply can’t say, “we can’t blame inanimate objects.”
Once you bring in the inanimate objects of nukes, the story changes. Now you are just talking a level of scale.
Again my history is weak, but Nazi Germany was mostly about the oppression of a specific group of people. I’m not seeing any kind of rise of targeting any specific group of people in America. I don’t see how a leader is going to make a case that every Hispanic came to the country illegally. Even so, the Hispanic vote is a key demographic for a leader to be elected.
I also don’t see the United States government changing its structure if unemployment hits 30-50%.
I would also suggest that if you are really concerned about his scenario, it may be wise to move to a country where such a risk isn’t present. If I really believed I was in a place where Nazi Germany was going to happen, you can bet that I’d move out of there.
In regards to your comment, “I’ve got an opinion where you draw the line, but you can’t put a tool like a knife or tire iron being used for an unintended purpose in the same classification with a gun.”
I don’t know if you heard but on the same day as Sandy Hook there was a man in China who slashed 22 children with a knife. I have not read if any of the children died, but it is possible that at least some of them did. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/14/news/la-man-slashes-22-children-near-china-school-20121214
I guess I am just trying to point out that a knife attack could be just as bad as a gun attack.
Lazy Man says
Sure, if an relatively strong adult overpowers a teacher (in this case an elderly woman) and kills him/her, they stand a good chance of slashing a bunch of 5 year olds. The school environment is particularly poorly suited for this kind of argument. Compare the movie theater shooting though where there were a bunch of adults in the room. A person with a knife doesn’t have the same physical advantage as the man with the gun did.
I’m presuming a typical public environment when I’m comparing a semi-automatic gun and a knife. In a baby nursery, a pair of scissors could do the damage. In a low-staffed hospital ICU, a pillow could do a fair amount of damage (suffocation). I think as part of getting as close as possible to a solution (again, there’s no total solution), we look at specially securing these environments.
Tommy Z says
Nukes are defensive in a sense that opposing countries are incentivized to avoid nuclear war due to the sheer destruction involved. My point is that nukes cannot be used defensively by an individual (they can be defensive weapons for a country, however).
Assault weapons are unlike nuclear weapons in that they can be used defensively by an individual because they you can aim them at specific targets/threats vs. wide-scale destruction. My thinking is along the lines of a domestic battle of American citizens vs. enemy soldiers (American soldiers, UN soldiers, foreign soldiers, etc). Hand guns could be used in this way too, but they have less velocity/distance and would put the American citizens at a much greater disadvantage. You wouldn’t want your family to be at a disadvantage, right?
Although most would agree that our country is not yet a dictatorship, we are undeniably headed in that direction with no change in sight. When that time comes, leaders will not care about the Hispanic vote or any vote – they can just rig the elections…if they decide to have elections at all. We already have evidence of election fraud (not to be confused with voter fraud).
As Ronald Reagan said: “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to – this is the last stand.”
Just days after Sandy Hook, a shooter attempted to gun down people at the Mayan Palace Theatre in San Antonio, Texas. An off-duty deputy whipped out her own gun and blasted him before the killer could reenact the rampage at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. This is probably the first you have heard about this precisely because the tragedy was averted. The institution will learn from the event and respond in a way that is rational and not injurious of human rights and liberties.
Lazy Man says
You brought up the point that assault weapons would be defensive for a government attack on North Dakota… saying that assault weapons prevented such a thing (though you admitted it was unlikely anyway).
Again the nuke example was to show how the story on blaming inanimate objects change when the scale is different.
My family would already be at a disadvantage vs. a helicopter or their bombs, so I consider any hope of an equal battle already lost. That being the case, I might as well save innocent people’s lives in schools, movie theaters, or the next place an assault weapon could take out a huge number of people in a short time.
I can most definitely deny that we are headed towards a dictatorship. I can’t even imagine who you’d think that dictator would be. It certainly isn’t President Obama as he’ll be out of power in four years.
I don’t know how to say this nicely, but I think you need a vacation or perhaps to move to another part of the country. The idea of the United States becoming like Nazi Germany is simply not anything resembling any kind of reality that I’m aware of. You can throw around a Ronald Reagan quote, but it doesn’t mean that freedom is leaving. It’s not like he said it with regard to any recent events.
Did the off-duty deputy have a semi-automatic weapon? I’m not seeing any reports of it. I think you proved my point that they aren’t necessary for defense as a successful defense was mounted without them. Had the shooter had an semi automatic weapon, I think he would have got off a lot more shots and more likely took out a few people, possibly the deputy before any kind of order was restored.
And was disaster really averted by the deputy having a gun or was it caused by the 19-year old who had a gun? Both. Let’s imagine a scenario where guns don’t exist and he goes into the restaurant with a knife. Presumably other people in restaurants have knives and he’s easily subdued by a group of people. Just playing devil’s advocate.
Tommy Z says
If all hope for an equal battle is already lost, does that mean we should hoist the white flag and surrender our rights? My position is no…and perhaps gasoline will be so hard to come by at that time that the helicopters/tanks will not run. At which point, would you rather have an assault rifle or a handgun to defend your family from the approaching army?
Does a dictatorship result in more freedom or less freedom for individuals? Obviously less. Are we gaining or losing freedom with each new session of Congress? Undoubtedly losing freedom. Therefore, we are clearly headed towards a dictatorship. It might not be next year or even in the next 10 years – I don’t really know. The only thing certain is that we are trending in that direction. You cannot deny the trend in the loss of individual freedom with every passing year.
Did the Jews expect the atrocities that were to come in Nazi Germany? Some of them did and left, but many others did not and they paid with their lives. If history is a guide (and it is), the people who prepare in the USA will fare better than those that live in denial.
I’m not trying to sound extreme, but to many people it may sound that way. I don’t expect the government to one day confiscate all firearms and then start sending people to the FEMA camps the next day…that’s not how it generally works. This stuff happens gradually (like slowly boiling a frog in a pot of hot water). Banning assault weapons is only 1 step of many…but what comes after that? Banning handguns? Then banning hunting rifles? If you wait until things start to get out of hand, then you’ve waited too long and there is nothing you can do at that point.
Lazy Man says
I don’t equate not having equal footing with soldiers as not having any rights. I don’t have equal footing in a battle with a policemen right now, but I still have rights.
I’m not seeing any major freedoms being lost. In fact, it looks like many are getting more freedoms like the ability to legally smoke weed (at least at the state level, the federal is another story) and marry someone of the same sex.
While a dictatorship may result in a loss of freedom (it doesn’t necessarily, the dictator could be awesome and expand freedoms), you can’t presume that a loss of freedom is leading us to a dictatorship. It’s like saying that losing your job puts you in a worse financial situation, so if you are in a worse financial situation you are going to lose your job. The cause and effect are seriously confused.
Contrary to popular belief we learn from history and Nazi Germany situations leading to world wars don’t happen to every country. Those who prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse will be better prepared than those who live in denial too.
I can’t imagine how you could sound less extreme, Tommy. You predict that the US government will start attacking its citizens and that we will turn into Nazi Germany.
I said in the article that I’m not sure where you draw the line behind banning guns, but I have an idea. My idea was that banning the semi-automatic ones that can kill dozens of people in a very short time. I was quite clear that I believe in people’s right to bare arms in general. That’s the line I’m comfortable with. Just be careful where you go on the other end of the spectrum with the automatic guns, because then you get closer and closer to putting weapons of mass destruction (I’m including semi-automatic guns in that rather than the tradition definition of that phrase) in the hands of people who aren’t mentally capable.
Okay, I have another idea …
Perhaps we could start with passing legislation specifically targeting the confiscation of all guns in North Dakota only? :)
Here’s how it will go down …
No doubt Tommy and his neighbors will resist this idea, but because of his highly unusual comments on this blog, the mainstream press at major national media outlets begin demonizing Tommy and his ilk. They rally the entire nation (ex. ND) behind this idea and all the sheeple say baaaaa.
Pressure mounts on the Obama administration to take action … so they ban all video games, drugs, and declare a war on rap music. They also float the idea of stripping Tommy and the rest of North Dakota of their guns.
Congress convenes a special session and announces a new Super Committee to come up with a plan. As expected, they come up with nothing, then take their private taxpayer funded jets and go on vacation.
In the meantime, Tommy gets placed on the CIA terrorist watch list (assuming he isn’t already on the list) followed by the rest of the population in the state.
Thanks in part to the National Defense Authorizaion Act (NDAA), officially known as Senate Bill 1867, the US government now has new and sweeping unchecked powers including specific provisions that grants the government the power to detain accused terrorists and “suspected terrorists” including US citizens, indefinitely, without trial.
The US Government now has the right to surveil it’s citizens without a warrant, so they begin flying drones over the state, tapping phones, and continually monitor Tommy and his neighbors without securing a court order. ACLU gets wind of this and files a law suit, but it is immediately dismissed because the US Government was granted under the Defense Authorization Act the right to claim all their evidence is “secrete” and that secrete classified evidence might undermine national security.
The Government also has the right to conduct warrantless searches, including the capacity to force private companies and organizations (including Lazy man and Money) to turn over all information they have on any citizen, including all medical records, communications, finances, and blog post comments.
One day, while Tommy is out grabbing a 6-pack and a bag of Pork Rinds from the corner market, Tommy is pulled over in a routine traffic stop, handcuffed, and NOT read his Miranda rights. While incarcerated Tommy is water boarded and while under extreme duress admits he is a terrorist, has nukes, automatic weapons, a tank, and planned on blowing up the White House.
A secrete court is convened and Tommy is deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations, is identified as a member of a terrorist group, and convicted of war crimes and crimes against the state.
Thanks again to the NDAA, the US Government is immune from judicial review and uses the extraordinary rendition system to transfer Tommy to god knows where, never to be heard from again.
And Lazy’s subscriber base drops by one.
Big T says
I suggest you go to this site and listen to this girl, she lived a mass murder situation.
Lazy Man says
I can’t listen to a video now, but reading the story that goes with it (she had a gun and she didn’t bring it) and the website (ConservativeVideos.com) isn’t exactly a neutral source. I hope she addresses the point that if there was proper gun control the gunman wouldn’t have had a gun to shoot anyone in the first place.
Tommy Z says
Contrarian’s post would be humorous if it were not so factual.
Big T’s video is awesome – it hits all the points I’ve been making. Because a link to the video is on a website with the word “Conservative” in the URL does not mean that the video is not neutral. It simply gives a real life scenario of what happened to one woman.
If drug control doesn’t work, why would gun control work? There are thousands of laws already on the books to control guns – why would more of the same produce a different result?
Regarding the USA’s trend toward a police state, I guess we’ll just have to disagree. Perhaps a dose of Alex Jones will help you see things from another perspective?
Lazy Man says
Again, I didn’t have a chance to see the video, but I’m curious if you’d see a video promoting something liberal like say a pro-choice on the website. Since I can’t watch the video, (my computer is in a public place and I don’t have headphones), can you tell me if she was saying that she needed to have a semi-automatic gun for defense. Remember, I’m not against all guns.
I’m not one who puts a lot of evidence into the opinion of one particular person. I’m sure I could find a video of someone that has the opposite opinion and then you didn’t really get anywhere.
I think most people look the other way for drug laws, because for the most part, they aren’t that harmful to other people. The same thing can probably be said about prostitution laws. Much of the time, police have bigger fish to fry. Those bigger fish would be unauthorized people getting semi-automatic guns, because that can lead to incidents like those at Sandy Hook.
Interesting how it was just undeniable that we were on a trend towards a police state and now it’s just we’ll have to disagree. I guess it was pretty deniable after all. I looked up Alex Jones on Wikipedia and I got the impression I’d find him even more absurd as I found Sean Hannity. On the bright side I’m hopeful that Alex Jones doesn’t promote IncomeAtHome.com like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck (http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/none/sponsored-storyrequest-your-trial-of-americas-premier-income-at-home-kit-and-start-making-money-on-your-own-terms-at-incomeathome-com/). Income at Home is essentially a front for Herbalife (which has been in the news recently for being a pyramid scheme that I’ll cover at some point).
Oh wait, Alex Jones is promoting Youngevity, which I’ve covered in detail here: Youngevity Scam?
Tommy Z says
My takeaway from the video was that you had a woman who was almost murdered and parents that were murdered at a restaurant because the government made it illegal to carry her firearm with her in her purse (she kept it in the car). About the same number of people were killed in that restaurant that were killed at Sandy Hook.
At 4:19 in the video, she says assault weapons were used defensively in the LA Riots when a mob threatened a man who had to defend himself on his roof. She then address critics saying there is no legitimate hunting/sports purpose of assault weapons and reminds them that hunting is not the point of the 2nd amendment, but rather so we can protect ourselves from the government.
At 7:22 a slide is shown to demonstrate the purpose of a handgun is self-defense against muggers/carjackers/rapists, a shotgun for home defense (burglars), and an assault rifle for people who try to take the guns away.
At 7:44 Penn & Teller explain that the 2nd amendment was to give the people a way to defend themselves from the militia.
On drug laws, I’m in favor of making them all legal. I acknowledge that they cause harm to the individuals that choose to use them (none of my business), and there are negative externalities affecting society from people using drugs — however the externalities of the drug war are worse. My point is that even though we have anti-drug laws, people get the drugs illegally anyway. Criminals that have no problem breaking the law will manage to get the guns anyway, even if they are banned.
Regarding Yongestivty, I read your post on that when it came out which was shortly after I bought some Tangy Tangerine. As a customer of Youngevity, I can say that it is a quality product and it makes me feel great when taking it, however thanks to your post, I was able to get similar results for much less money by buying Opti-Men on Amazon…so thank you for that!
Lazy Man says
Just to clarify, because I haven’t had the chance to see the video yet (computer still in a public place), the person doing the murder did it with something other than a gun, right? Because I’m not sure your argument goes anywhere if you are claiming something about the effect where the cause would have been eliminated.
And does this video have to do with semi-automatics, because I was quite clear in the article that I don’t want to take guns away. I’m not looking for a case where semi-automatics were used, but that they were required. Just because someone happened to be in a situation where they defended themselves with a semi because it was what they had available, we shouldn’t assume that it was required.
I think you’ve proved my point when your explanation of “the purpose of a handgun is self-defense against muggers/carjackers/rapists.” I’m not sure why you need shotgun for burglars where a handgun wouldn’t work.
“My point is that even though we have anti-drug laws, people get the drugs illegally anyway. Criminals that have no problem breaking the law will manage to get the guns anyway, even if they are banned.”
I agree that people get the drugs anyway, but that’s because the enforcement has bigger fish to fry (as I pointed out earlier). When it comes to guns, those are the bigger fish to fry, so you can’t presume that people would get guns anyway. Of course, *some* people would, but it would still keep most of the mentally ill from having guns. I fundamentally believe that drug dealers will sell some pot to a college student, because they rationalize “no harm will be done, they just want to have some fun.” People buy alcohol for underage kids all the time. You can’t compare guns with drugs and alcohol, because a majority of the sellers would not take an attitude of “no harm will be done, that person just wants to have some fun with a gun.”
A better, but more extreme comparison would be someone trying to get ahold of banned weapons, maybe a bomb or something. You can probably buy some pot at an Aerosmith concert, but good luck buying a bomb. I tend to think that we don’t have a bomb problem even though they are banned.
You are welcome about the Youngevity thing, but it would be better if people would not be promoting these things that appear to be pyramid schemes. I think if you look at the presentation that Ackman gave about Herbalife you’ll see many of the same things with Youngevity (the artificially raised SRP) and such.
Tommy Z says
And thank you for reviewing Visalis as well. Somebody tried to recruit me for that opportunity and I turned them down after reading your article.
While it is entirely possible to defend yourself with a handgun it is easier and more effective to do that with a gun like a shotgun or an assault rifle however you cannot easily conceal a shotgun or assault rifle like you can with a handgun.
When you get a chance you should take a look at this video on YouTube that helps explain it: