FIRST RESPONDERS

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 | Uncategorized

If you’re a cop, you have to get used to seeing dead bodies.  You probably don’t see many of them out in the suburbs but you still have to face the possibility.  But I guess there are some incidents that nothing and no one can possibly prepare you for:

The gunfire ended; it was so quiet they could hear the broken glass and bullet casings scraping under their boots. The smell of gunpowder filled the air. The officers turned down their radios; they did not want to give away their positions if there was still a gunman present.

They found the two women first, their bodies lying on the lobby floor. Now they knew it was real. But nothing, no amount of training, could prepare them for what they found next, inside those two classrooms.

“One look, and your life was absolutely changed,” said Michael McGowan, one of the first police officers to arrive at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, as a gunman, in the space of minutes, killed 20 first graders and 6 adults. 

As Officers Chapman and Smith approached the second classroom in the hallway on their left, they spotted a rifle on the floor. Inside, they found the gunman, Adam Lanza, dead by his own hand, along with the bodies of several children and other adults.

The officers searched the room for any other gunmen, then began searching for signs of life among the children. One little girl had a pulse and was breathing. Officer Chapman cradled her in his arms and ran with her outside, to an ambulance. Officer Chapman, a parent himself, tried to comfort her. “You’re safe now; your parents love you,” he recalled saying. She did not survive.

Officer Penna, who was the first officer to enter the second room, found a girl standing alone amid the bodies. She appeared to be in shock, and was covered in blood, but had not been injured. He, not knowing the gunman had been found, told her to stay put.

He ran into the next classroom and saw the dead gunman, with Officers Chapman and Smith standing nearby. State troopers and other officers were now flooding in. Officer Penna returned to the second classroom, his rifle slung around his chest, grabbed the uninjured girl by the arm and ran with her out to a triage area set up in the parking lot.

Here’s the deal.  If you seriously believe that “gun control” will ever stop this sort of thing, then not to put too fine a point on it, argues Rebecca Costa, but you are stupid to live.

Before we turn up the volume on the Second Amendment. Before we trot out data proving that more guns lead to more violence — or don’t. Before we re-live every senseless mass murder and make children afraid to step into a movie theater, school or mall. Before all of this and worse — experts would be wise to examine a phenomena that has been the impetus behind so many recent attacks on innocent civilians: Long before the perpetrators reached for a weapon, they lost their desire to live.

That’s right. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about Khalid al-Mihdhar and 9/11, or James Eagan Holmes opening fire on movie-goers in Colorado, or more recently, Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old responsible for the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. We now know that in each of these cases, the assailants felt they no longer had a reason to live. And it is this unnatural state that enabled them to commit unimaginable acts. Once a person makes a decision to die, the most abhorrent atrocities become permissible. There are no longer any consequences to fear: no arrest, no jail, no trial, no families of the victims to face, no remorse, no nothing. Dead is dead.

And that’s why “gun control” is worse than a joke.  Let’s say that you don’t care anymore, about your own life or anyone else’s.  Hell, let’s say that you’re Adam Lanza but you can’t get yourself a gun.  What do you do?

Simple.  You get out on the Internet, make yourself up some pipe bombs, fill ‘em with shrapnel and turn those little Sandy Hook kids into hamburger.

75 Comments to FIRST RESPONDERS

Allen Lewis
January 29, 2013

For all the rhetoric about “caring” and “compassion” and the other warm, fuzzy buzzwords that Progressives like to use there is a grim, cold fact: mental illness is still the biggest and most misunderstood area in our society today. Yet nothing is being done about it except, perhaps, to sedate it away with chemicals and drugs, whether legal or illegal.

Until this country faces up to the massive social failure to do something about mental illness, all the hot air that politicians can spout is just swamp gas.
Until the politicians get serious about wanting to do something useful about solving the mental health crisis, they are worse than useless.

But to do that, they have to admit that there is a problem and a rather intractable one at that.

FW Ken
January 29, 2013

Not only is there a loss of the will to live, but as atheism becomes more aggressive, life itself comes under attack. Abortion, euthanasia, sterile sexuality are all the bastard children of atheism, including the religious humanism of liberal religion, which is nothing but atheism in a cassock.

Michael D
January 29, 2013

Well, although I don’t believe gun control, by itself, will stop this sort of thing, I think there is good evidence that gun control, and gun destruction, could reduce it by a factor of about 8. (That number is based on Australia, which did a gun buy-back ten years ago, and has per-capita gun death rates typical of many industrialized countries.)

Does that make me “too stupid to live” ? Is that a threat?

Michael D
January 29, 2013

Allen, if you attribute the US statistics to mental illness, are you suggesting that the US has vastly more mental illness per capita than most industrialized countries? If so, do you have any thoughts on why that might be?

FW Ken
January 29, 2013

Michael D. -

A lot of very conservative Americans are good with reasonable gun control. The issue is that the gun control had become a slogan, not a solution. I strongly believe mental health issues need to be addressed, but even that can become a talking point rather than a serious discussion. For the record, I’m not sure the U.S. has more mental illness, but we are ideologically incapable of addressing it. I speak as one who worked in the mental health system for a few years. I for one, am ready for some real solutions, and less demagoguery.

ann r
January 29, 2013

I read an interesting article today that pointed out that 14 recent (last decade) mass murders had been committed by people on anti depressants or on several drugs for anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. The article pointed out that there is a black box warning on these drugs that they may increase anxiety, depression, violence and suicidal tendencies. However big pharma is making big bucks off these, so they are a sacred cow. Untouchable. The FDA is not doing its job. Instead of looking at guns, we should be looking at the drug scene. Note that on the same day some guy in China killed a bunch of kids with a knife. It doesn’t take guns. Any weapon will do. It takes the will to eliminate oneself and others.

Bill2
January 29, 2013

If we ban all cars, vehicular deaths will really take a nose dive.

Steve L.
January 29, 2013

9-11 was accomplished with a pocket full of dollar store box cutters.

Michael D
January 29, 2013

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Ken. Do you know of a good analysis of the demographics of mental health problems? Is it because the insurance companies do not pay for treatment, or is it because poor people have crappy insurance?

The second article that CJ quotes (I could not read the first one) and your response imply that this is also a spiritual problem. The US is one of the most “Christian” nations on Earth, so perhaps this is an all-out assault by the powers of darkness? Or can we blame our technology, which tends to isolate us in front of a flickering screen (whether TV or video or facebook – I’m sitting in front of one right now) rather than digging in the garden or going for a hike with a friend?

Mark
January 30, 2013

Count me in, too, among the “too stupid to live”. I do believe that more gun control can lead to fewer guns, and that fewer guns can mean less (not zero) gun violence and lethal violence generally. I believe the experience of other countries bears that out. And I believe that would be a good tradeoff to make. Given the current political climate I don’t think effective gun control is likely in the near future, and I think it is more likely that ineffective legislation that is more for show will get passed. That would be unfortunate. But it’s not because gun control per se can’t work.

Don Janousek
January 30, 2013

I have four adult children. The thought of them being shot by a maniac when they were in the first grade or kindergarten is something I have to keep out of my mind.

When I was in grade school in the ’50′s, we had five women teachers in the building and a janitor. Yet, we felt as safe there as at home. But, times change.

Put an armed guard in every school armed with an automatic weapon with orders to shoot to kill. Problem solved.

If the liberal communists who now are in the ascendancy in this country want to mess with the 2nd Amendment, then repeal it. Otherwise, do not infringe.

When the Secret Service, all government officials and employees and all Hollywood types give up their armed security guards, then I will register my guns. Unfortunately, all of my guns were lost in a canoe wreck in the Platte River last year, so I can’t give them up, I reckon.

Don Janousek
January 30, 2013

Michael D

Your post is nonsense.

Australia is not the U.S.

Compare gun crimes/deaths in England after gun control to before gun control. With strict gun control, England is now one of the most violent countries in the world.

If you want to “control” guns, then work for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. Otherwise, post a sign on your lawn when you are not at home that says “Gun Free Zone.” Walk the walk and as well as talking the talk.

Are guns skeerry to you? They weren’t to our Founders, or my father or to me. Grow a spine.

BTW – I served in the military. You?

Don Janousek
January 30, 2013

Michael D

No, you are not “too stupid to live.” You are just stupid. And even stupid people have a right to life.

Christopher Johnson
January 30, 2013

Okay, “too stupid to live” was a horrible choice of words and “stupid” by itself is too far. But the basic point still stands. If your tormented life makes you want to kill a bunch of little kids, you will find a way, whether or not you can purchase a gun. I don’t know why incidents like this happen more in this country than anywhere else but they do.

Stephen Decatur
January 30, 2013

@Michael D
The key statistic is not “gun deaths”. Almost all “gun deaths” in the US are suicides. Of course reducing the number of guns will reduce the number of suicides with guns. These deaths are accomplished by other means, principally poisoning or falling deaths in countries where guns are not available. Does any honest person seriously suggest that restricting access to guns will reduce the suicide rate?

The key statistic is “murder”. Not “gun murder”, but any sort of murder. Since Great Britain virtually eliminated the private ownership of guns, the incidence of people murdered with guns has indeed gone down. And the incidence of people murdered with knives, broken bottles, cricket bats, and fists has skyrocketed. Britain, with about 1/5 the population of the US, has more people beaten and kicked to death each year than are killed with rifles in the US. The murder rate went from about 1/2 the US murder rate in the ’60s to 4x the US rate now.

Australia has experienced a similar, though less severe version of the same effect. Violent crimes of all types, especially rape, are through the roof since guns were taken from the populace. Murder rates are significantly higher than they were when there was a fair chance that the intended victim might have a gun.

Almost all of the statistics put out by the gun control advocates are of similar type. Category errors and special pleading. They create special categories like “gun death” that sound reasonable, but are merely rhetorical sleight of hand, as if “gun rape” were worse or different somehow from “knife rape” or “forcible rape”. Or that armed robbery and drug gang turf wars (the source of a large majority of murders in the US) would somehow be affected by gun control. Even in Britain drug gang related violence is largely accomplished with guns. Which makes sense, that people smuggling large quantities of illicit drugs would have access to illegal weapons as well.

According to some studies, over one million times a year a potential crime is deterred with a gun. Usually without a shot being fired.

A society without access to firearms is at the mercy of the young and strong. For someone like my wife, there is literally no other way she can defend herself.

Allen Lewis
January 30, 2013

Michael D -
FW Ken has answered part of your question to me. I really cannot answer your question about whtther I think the US has a higher incidence of mental illness than other industrialized countries. I would have to research that for a bit.

Again, I agree with Ken, that “mental illness” has become somewhat of a conservative buzz word that gets thrown about quite a lot but nothing is really done about it. I am not sure that I agree with his contention that the US is ideologically unable to deal with mental illness. I do know that there is a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to dealing with it.

I sometimes (in my more cynical moods) wonder how high a percentage of psychologists and psychiatrists went into practice in an effort to deal with their own issues. I do believe their are some real wack jobs in both fields, but I do not wish to tarnish the ones who really are serious in their desire to help. [Full disclosure: I have had to seek the aid of a psychologist to help deal with a bout of rather severe depression. With his help and some medication, I managed to get over it. ] I will go on the record to say that I agree with FW Ken that US society has a spiritual problem. I do also think that Satan is on the attack (and winning some ground in too many areas right now). Mental illness is an aspect of that attack. Do I believe all mental illness is a case of demon possession? No. But I would submit that is the case more times than our increasingly materialist society would like to admit.

Both gun control and mental illness are topics that are too prone to demagoguery. I would welcome a serious discussion of both. But we have to be careful of comparing apples to oranges if real solutions are to be found.

What I do object to is bumper sticker thinking. Take a serous look at the situation in Chicago. That city has some of the strictest gun-control measures around. Yet theur violent crime stats are through the roof. And it is not the case that Chicago is surrounded by an ocean of easily attained weapons.

But it is very late and I have an early day of it. Good night for now.

The Pilgrim
January 30, 2013

Here is an analysis of the numbers from Australia. It is not a pretty picture, and the australian government now admits that the reduction of firearms in the country did nthing to deter vilent crime in fact, it exacerbated the situation;
http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=17847

Mark
January 30, 2013

Many opponents of gun control fall into this pattern: if someone cites evidence that gun control works in some country, declare that that country is so culturally different from the US that its experience is irrelevant. But if someone cites evidence that it didn’t work in some country, declare with equal confidence that the experience here would be exactly the same.

The truth is that no country is very comparable as a baseline. The rate of gun ownership and the rate of murder in the US are so much higher than any other first world country that direct comparisons are extremely difficult. For all the legitimate questions about the effectiveness of recent gun bans in the UK and Australia, I think most people would be thrilled if we could reduce our murder rate to something like what those countries had *before* their big gun bans.

The idea that you should want the total murder rate to go down in response to a gun ban sounds nice, but that is only valid if gun murders are a large percentage of total murders to begin with. If they are a small percent of all murders than eliminating them completely will not have a big effect on the total rate. Here in the US guns are used in about 2/3 of all murders so a reduction in gun murders could have a significant effect on the overall rate. I don’t have good figures for other comparable countries but I am pretty sure they are all much, much lower.

I do not know where Stephen Decatur is getting his figure for comparing murder in the UK and the US. Over the past 10 years the annual per capita murder rate in the UK has ranged from 9.8 per million (2011-2012) to 17.9 per million (2002-2003) (source). In the US it has ranged from 47 per million (2011) to 57 per million (2003, 2007). (source). So the US murder rate is 3-4 times that of the UK, and even our non-gun murder rate is higher than the total murder rate across the pond.

Controlled experiments in national gun control are impossible. What I know is we have vastly more guns, and far more murder, than any otherwise comparable country, and that most of our murders are done with guns.

Ed the Roman
January 30, 2013

Stand Back! I’m going to try science!

http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=7056

Michael Berry
January 30, 2013

On gun control, let’s call it what it is–Gun Prohibition. I suggest that because in the United States gun ownership is fundamental right the same as voting (one is even mentioned in the Constitution and the other is not) that gun ownership be linked to voting and subject to the same restrictions. If you can’t vote you can’t own a gun, period.

Katherine
January 30, 2013

Science! That’s dastardly, Ed.

Thanks to Stephen Decatur and others for pointing out that, in countries where guns have been outlawed, violent crime rates go up. In U.S. states which have concealed carry laws, violent crime rates go down.

Michael D, several decades ago American law on the commitment of the seriously mentally ill to institutions began to change. For some decades it has been very difficult to institutionalize paranoid schizophrenics until after they commit violence. Granted, there were problems with the institutions in some cases, and some schizophrenics are not dangerous, but in general it’s true that large numbers of these shootings have been committed by young men who were severely deranged. In many cases they had been under treatment and had medication prescribed. They can’t be forced to take their meds and continue treatment.

The general U.S. murder rate is high in low-income ethnic communities where criminal gangs are the major cause and where gang members and unfortunate local non-criminal residents are the victims. Just read about Chicago, a no-gun city in a no-gun state. The criminals have guns. The law-abiding don’t. The murder rate is fantastically high. The same is true in spots around the country.

Daniel aka Fisherman
January 30, 2013

“In the U.S. for 2010, there were 31,513 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 19,308; Homicide 11,015; Accident 600. This makes firearms injuries one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S. The number of firearms-related injuries in the U.S., both fatal and non-fatal, increased through 1993, declined to 1999, and has remained relatively constant since. However, firearms injuries remain a leading cause of death in the U.S., particularly among youth (CDC, 2001) (Sherry et al, 2012).

“The rates of firearms deaths in the U.S. vary significantly by race and sex. The U.S. national average was 10.2 deaths per 100,000 population in 2009. The highest rate was 28.4/100,000 for African-American males, more than quadruple the rate of 6.3/100,000 for white males. (CDC, 2009)”

Source: http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html

It’s close to impossible to stop a person bent on the wanton taking of lives, be their intent to go down by self or law enforcement.

So to answer the question: “Hell, let’s say that you’re Adam Lanza but you can’t get yourself a gun. What do you do?”

A rent-a-truck, a ton of ammonium nitrate, diesel fuel and a cell phone or suicide trigger. Drive a car at high speed into a crowd. Drive a car under the influence. Torch an apartment building. The list is virtually endless. If they want to kill, they will.

Michael Berry
January 30, 2013

Or in Lanza’s case he killed the legitimate owner, his mother, and stole her guns, having just been turned down at a gun shop.

Michael D
January 30, 2013

Did everyone check out the link that Ed sent? It shows clearly that during the assault weapon ban (whatever that is – clearly from Sandy Hook it did not remove all assault weapons) the number of gun homicides decreased almost by a factor of two, without increasing non-gun homicides.

Be very careful to understand what each graph means, because statistics can be misleading (for example if you drastically reduce the number of gun deaths, the relative fraction of non-gun deaths MUST increase, even if the total number of non-gun deaths remains constant.)

Has anyone seen an analysis of whether gun-owners are more or less likely to die violent deaths? (Matthew 26:52) Mrs. Lanza, for example, appears not have benefited from her arsenal.

Michael D
January 30, 2013

Daniel, I suspect that demons of self-destruction are less likely to hold sway long enough for the purchase of the fertilizer and wiring of the cell-phone.

Michael D
January 30, 2013

Don, I’m not sure what you mean about the UK vs US statistics. Wikipedia shows the UK with an all-source murder rate of 1.2 versus the US all-source murder rate of 4.8. What am I missing?

Katherine
January 30, 2013

Rates have continued to be low, Michael D, after the expiration of the “assault weapons” ban. It’s hard to prove with statistics, even distorting them as is commonly done, that the “assault weapons” ban did any good at all. That’s why it was quietly allowed to expire.

As to whether individual gun owners are safer, there are many, many cases annually in which an intended crime victim displays, or in a lesser number of cases, fires, a gun and prevents serious injury or death for himself or to other intended victims. As I said before, the incidence of violent crime and even home invasions declines dramatically after states pass concealed carry laws.

Katherine
January 30, 2013

To get back to Chris’s post and the USA Today op-ed, I have one quibble with that author. The 9/11 terrorists not only renounced continuing to live, but they did so in the belief that they would instantly be rewarded on death with the Muslim Paradise. That makes their motivations somewhat different from deranged movie or school shooters.

Anne B.
January 30, 2013

Michael D says:

“Wikipedia shows the UK with an all-source murder rate of 1.2 versus the US all-source murder rate of 4.8. What am I missing?”

You’re missing the demographic breakdown of the population. Here in Chicago (if the cop blogs are to be believed) something like 70% of the shootings occur in Englewood, Roseland, and other well-known ghetto areas. It’s almost all black-on-black, and it’s almost all committed with illegally acquired handguns. (The cop who taught my handgun-safety course said that the guns in question are almost always bought from biker gangs who bring them up from the South.)
And BTW, on that Wiki chart you referenced, the continent with the highest murder rate is Africa.

But somehow, this middle-aged nonblack female who jumped through all the hoops (FOID card, CPD handgun permit) who is boringly law-abiding and has never shot anything except a clay pigeon – somehow, just by being a gun owner, I’m part of the problem. Why is that?

Ed the Roman
January 30, 2013

Michael D, total homicides and gun homicides went down in virtual lockstep. As did homicides by OTHER METHODS. I await in antici-

-pation your explanation of why all those killers who wanted to use rifles just gave up and didn’t try something else.

What’s more, during the ban, homicide by non-handguns proportionally went UP.

Therese Z
January 30, 2013

I wish we could coin the term “gun license control.” Too many guns are sold without background checks. Lanza stole his guns from a legitimate owner, nothing could be done there, really, but if the mentally ill were prohibited from buying even some guns, it would help. If owners were identified, fewer gangbangers might have guns. It would only contribute to a reduction, I’m not pie-in-the-sky. But don’t control guns, control their ownership.

Probably naive of me, but I grew up in a house full of guns (police officer father) and we never had any issues, respecting them as the powerful things they were.

Geosez
January 30, 2013

I want to thank everyone in this discussion who has referenced legitimate sources for their statistics/information. We’re supposed to be about the business of truth here.

Michael D
January 30, 2013

But Ed, some commentors (e.g. Pilgrim) were suggesting that a reduction in access to guns would increase other crimes. Your statistics don’t support that.

Are you suggesting that the 50% reduction in gun deaths was not related to the assault weapon ban?

Michael D
January 30, 2013

Thanks, Geosez, though I’m never completely confident that Wikipedia represents a “legitimate source.” I think many of us just don’t have time to research more official sources.

Michael D
January 30, 2013

Anne, I suspect that gun control, if it is a solution, would have to be implemented in colour-blind, age-blind, and gender-blind way, so your protest “this middle-aged nonblack female” would I’m afraid be irrelevant.

May I hastily add, however, that some of my very favourite people fit in exactly your category. :)

dwstroudmd+
January 30, 2013

The Justice Department Report on the former assault weapons ban:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_exec2004.pdf

Statistically … insignificant if not incapable of determination due to extreme rarity of crimes with these.

Jacob Morgan
January 30, 2013

Correlation doesn’t prove causation, and all that, but when one thing has a strong negative correlation, and one has a positive correlation, don’t say it doesn’t mean anything.

Guns-
The first commercially successful semi-auto rifle was the Remington model 8, first sold in 1906, and continued selling until being replaced with another model in the 1950′s. In the 1920′s companies started making 15 round magazines for it. From 1920 until 1935, Auto Ordenance Corp sold fully automatic machine guns, with 50 round drums, by mail order to anyone who sent them money. Starting in 1930, until 1935, Colt offered the BAR light machine gun for sale to civilians. Machine guns weren’t regulated until 1935–and that was in response to bootleg gangsters, not psychos going on shooting sprees.

Up until 1968, for $20, one could mail order a war surplus M1 carbine, semi auto, up to a 30 rd magazine. Up until then pistols, rifles, whatever, were sold through the mail COD. In 1968 a law was passed banning mail order guns, that law ushered in the paper work one had to go through with a dealer. One of the questions on it was if the buyer was mentally incompetent, or something like that. But at the time, that was hardly needed, as insane people lived in state hospitals.

From 1906 to 1968, semi autos were sold to anyone, for a period of years machine guns were sold to anyone, and in the whole period anyone could buy them via mail order. Spree shootings were almost non-existent. Anarchists and spree killers used bombs, because they were more effective.

Starting in 1960 the federal government decided it would do a make over on the mental illness sphere. States were tired of building new asylums, federal government bought into some trendy ideas. The result was the Feds would give the mentally I’ll disability checks and housing at the projects and set up some Thorazine dispensing clinics. State hospitals locked the front door, and deinstitutionalization began.

Thorazine didn’t cure anything, it may have suppressed some symptoms while slowly killing the patient. When out on thier own, patients stopped taking it. The wonder drug was only wonderful at giving false hope to deinstitutionalization. But, this is one of those perfect progressive ideas: reject past experience (there were some hospitals that did have good eras, when not over crowded or staffed with doctors with nutty ideas), expand the federal government, put mentally ill on the street–need more affordable housing, more welfare, blame Reagan for the homeless, and when the unfortunate sick people commit violence–disarm the sane. It leads to the nanny state, where if the insane are in society, then all of society needs to be turned into a sort of rubber room.

Deinstitutionalization started in earnest in the late sixties, which was when crime rates shot up. While the state hospitals were full, mourges were empty of shooting spree victims. From 1955 to 1995, on a per capita basis 95% of state hospital beds were lost. There used to be a state hospital in Newtown!!! How much clearer does this need to be? Here was Adams mother, she new her son was nuts, but darn near impossible to have anyone involuntarily committed these days. Back in the 1960′s there were 3 state hospitals in CT and Newton’s had 4,000 patients.

The biggest mental institutions today are the LA County jail and Riker’s Island. Insane people don’t go to hospitals, they go to jail. Which is more expensive while not being geared to offer therapy to the ill. Besides the cost in lives of people murdered by the mentally ill

Jacob Morgan
January 30, 2013

what of the mentally ill themselves? Cheap compassion to “save” a patient from nurse Ratched so he can live on a steam grate, talk to lamp posts, and urinate in his pants.

What about insane people pushing people in front of subway trains? In LA a few years ago a deranged man killed 5 people with a champagne bottle. If you aren’t in the drug selling business, the greatest risk everyone has is that some one hears voices telling them to take a butcher knife and carve you like a turkey. There was an incident just a couple of weeks ago where some lady shopping at a Bed Bath and Beyond was savagely sliced up by a crazy man–that could have been anyone. There was a loon in NYC who snatched baby from a mother and began to stab the baby with a ball point pen.

Deinstitutionalization is a horrible experiment paid for in blood. We need state hospitals and the insane need to be provided for. Sure, there needs to be safe guards to prevent abuse and committals of sane people, but the alternative is not looking good.

Ed the Roman
January 30, 2013

Michael D, there was a 50% reduction in beatings and poisonings, too.

Murder by all methods went down. THe assault weapons ban could not have lowered the murder rate by strangulation. Everything went down.

Maybe stranugulation murders went down because people lost hand strength from not getting enough exercise lifting full thirty round mags and were unable to finish the job, but I doubt it.

Katherine
January 30, 2013

Michael D, if the “assault weapon” ban reduced gun deaths by 50%, as you assert, then we should have seen a huge increase since the ban’s demise. In fact, there’s been no difference. The “assault weapons” banned were in fact identified by some cosmetic characteristics which were easily circumvented, so the ban had little to no effect on actual guns produced and sold. Some other factor or factors are responsible for this reduction. Also, the vast number of gun homicides are committed with handguns, not rifles.

Anne B., good for you for jumping through those hoops and providing yourself with a means of self-defense in your home. Most of the non-gang homicide victims in Chicago don’t have that advantage, at least not legally.

Winston
January 30, 2013

Charles Krauthammer recently opined that confiscation would lead to insurrection, and I think he is right, at least in many sections of the nation. In fact several sheriffs have announced that they would not enforce stricter federal gun laws.

The right to own a gun, pervasively exercised, creates the possibility of enforcing limits on the arbitrary exercise of government authority. For many, the issue may not be guns for their own sake, but as a means of ensuring other rights.

Without guns, our fathers could not have stood at Concord. The Founders believed such a stand might be necessary again. The ability of citizens to stand in arms may have been a factor in our not yet having to do it.

Stephen Decatur
January 30, 2013

@Michael D
Category errors and special pleadings.

dominic1955
January 30, 2013

The “assault weapons ban” didn’t do jack to murder rates. Why? All it did was ban the importation of certain guns with cosmetic features. OK, so circa 1989 I could buy a semi-auto ChiCom Type 56 (AK) with a folding stock, a bayonet lug or folding ChiCom spike bayonet, and a threaded barrel for the standard AK slant muzzle brake. After 1994, I can buy the same damn thing except now it comes in a thumbhole stock, the bayonet lug is ground off and the barrel nut (that protects the threads) is welded on and they call it a MAK-90. Same caliber, same operating system, same 30 round mags. You think someone who’s going to do some mass killing gives a crap about having the little ChiCom pigsticker on their gun. Did the fascists down at the BATF? You bet your ass they did and one of those things on the wrong gun could have landed you in the poke if they wanted to jerks about it. Now, if you can tell me when the last mass bayoneting happened, I will crown you Czar of all the Russias…

Most folks don’t know the details, couldn’t tell me the difference between a Norinco or PolyTech Type 56 and a MAK-90 or what any of these things really are, or what the hell a barrel shroud is and how completely stupid it is to say that sort of useless piece of scrap metal makes a gun more dangerous.

dominic1955
January 30, 2013

Morons like Diane Feinstein (basically the author and main proponent of the previous assault weapons ban) prove beyond a doubt they do not know jack about guns publically for anyone who cares to see. She is famous for playing show n’ tell with the scary guns for the useful idiots in the media. Counting how many times she does dumb things like trying to stick M1 Carbine mags into an AK or sweeping the crowd with one of her toys with her finger on the trigger would be interesting to know. Of course, facts do not matter to idealogues. Us rubes in Flyover Country clinging to Guns n’ God stand in the way of the Enlightened One’s finally creating Utopia (TM).

Do not be fooled, gun control has nothing to do with saving lives or making society any safer. The Democrats could care less if little Johnny of Janie get blasted, hell, it happens all the time to little Tyrone or Shaniqua back in Barry’s old stomping grounds. It is all about leftists asserting their power. Never let a dead child go to waste, as Comrade Rahm and Co. would say.

Ed the Roman
January 30, 2013

“Now, if you can tell me when the last mass bayoneting happened, I will crown you Czar of all the Russias… ”

I believe that would have been at the Rape of Nanking.

We await your arrival with the Patriarch and the regalia.

Bill (not IB)
January 30, 2013

I can only speak from my own experience, but when I’ve gone to a local gun dealer to purchase a handgun, a background check was run right then and there. In some cases, approval comes back immediately; in other cases, the reply can take several days, in which case the gun is held by the dealer until the check is complete. When I’ve purchased a long gun (rifle – and although it is military [.303 Enfield Mark IV] it’s bolt action, so it hardly rates as an assault weapon) no check was run. My opinion is that all handguns should require a background check (which they do now, but only for dealer sales, not private sales) as well as any non-bolt/pump action repeating long guns.

Having said that, let me proceed to knock down my own straw man. The theory is that “assault weapons” shoot too fast; that they can be fired so rapidly it makes mass murder easy. Well, Lee Harvey Oswald got off three aimed rounds in 8.5 seconds, operating the bolt action twice. Adding in another bolt cycle, the total would come to about 11 seconds – or to be generous, an average of 4 seconds per shot. That means that with a bolt operated rifle, getting off 15 rounds a minute is no problem. Assuming a 10-shot magazine, only one magazine switch is needed, and they usually go fast; perhaps 2-3 seconds. So in the course of a 3 minute shooting spree, up to 45 people could be killed.

As for handguns – a fellow by the name of Jerry Maculek (sp?) has a record of 2.99 seconds for firing 6 shots from a revolver (all hitting the target), reloading (cylinder swapout), and firing 6 more rounds. If he could keep that up, his rate of fire would be 240 rounds per minute. Arbitrarily assuming that he has to slow down 500% to have his firing rate be maintainable, that would still give him 48 shots per minute, for a total of 144 in a 3-minute spree.

So – what’s my point, you’re probably wondering? My point is that it’s not the specific kind of gun that matters as much as it is the person holding the gun – which is what Chris’ original premise is about. The reason we keep having more and bigger shooting sprees is that suicidal individuals decide to go out in a “blaze of glory”, and each one wants to be more memorable (i.e. more destructive) than predecessors. If they didn’t get the media coverage, they probably wouldn’t choose a mass shooting as their form of suicide.

I don’t know how to deal with this media/mental health issue. It’s not feasible to ask the press to not cover an event like Columbine or Sandy Hook, although they could lighten up quite a bit – no need to go virtually 24/7 for a week with the talking heads. And how do you test for “mental stability”? Psychology and Psychiatry aren’t exact sciences like Physics and Chemistry; an individual that one psychiatrist says is normal could be diagnosed by another as having a dangerous schizophrenia. Mental health also isn’t perpetually in the same state; it can change dramatically and rapidly, so a test given one day can be totally invalidated a month later.

In the long run, I think it comes down to one thing – we’re all called on to love one another. And that love should keep us in touch with those around us to the extent that we help them deal with problems, rather than having them turn to drastic actions.

Don Janousek
January 30, 2013

The system chewed up and ate my last comment AGAIN.

Keeps saying I already said that before letting me say it in the first place.

I will be contacting the ACLU. My freedom to pontificate ad infinitum is being infringed.

I will be seeking damages for emotional suffering.

We will be serving discovery on you shortly, Mr. Johnson.

dominic1955
January 30, 2013

“’Now, if you can tell me when the last mass bayoneting happened, I will crown you Czar of all the Russias…’

I believe that would have been at the Rape of Nanking.

We await your arrival with the Patriarch and the regalia.”

Crap, I should have been more specific. How about here in America at the hands of someone trying to do a mass killing or a drive by bayoneting? That I haven’t heard of.

Ed the Roman
January 30, 2013

Yes, you should have been more specific, Gospodin. Now, will you be coming as We expected or will the Okhrana be escroting you?

dominic1955
January 30, 2013

Bill,

As far as bolt guns go and you know personally, an Enfield is slicker and higher capacity than most. The bolt is very fast to operate and even though they weren’t really designed to do mag changes they can be used that way. I believe the British Army expected their soldiers to be able to do something like 30 aimed shots a minute.

Oswald allegedly did it with a m91/38 Carcano that has a 6 round Mannlicher style en-bloc clip loaded magazine. People pooh-pooh them, but they work slick enough as well to put some rounds down range quickly plus reloading is very quick. In my experience, they are plenty accurate and reliable if you know how they tick.

I also remember reading Col. Cooper’s column in which he related an impromtu experiment to see if there really was that much of an advantage to a semi-auto when it came to speed. Basically, a guy who knew his way around a lever action .30-30 could shoot more rounds more accurately and quicker than the equivalent guy with an SKS or semi-auto AK. There are various things to factor in to this, but basically, more “conventional” guns are nothing to sneeze at in the hands of an experienced shooter.

ann r
January 30, 2013

In our county, 100 miles by 30 miles, we may not have more than one or two deputies on duty at any given time, due to budget cuts. So if a deputy is 45 minutes drive time from a 911 call, you are stuck unless you have some means of protecting yourself. You can’t even kill a rabid skunk menacing your family without a gun. Rural America will not stand for confiscation.

SouthCoast
January 30, 2013

“what of the mentally ill themselves? Cheap compassion to “save” a patient from nurse Ratched so he can live on a steam grate, talk to lamp posts, and urinate in his pants.” I remember, back in college, being assigned a book by a “psychologist” who rambled and driveled on and on and on about “consensus reality”. The trendy thought of the time was that reality was just what everybody agreed to (unfortunately that idiocy is still popular with the “spiritual but not religious” crowd), and who were we to deny some poor schizophrenic the pleaures of his own private reality, even if it involved walking about ranting and smeared with feces? The New Age movement, and its unwed parent, The Sixties, has much to atone for.

Katherine
January 30, 2013

I think the dealer ran a criminal check run on me when I bought a pump shotgun a few years ago. I have no objection whatever to background checks.

Bill (not IB) is correct to point out that psychiatry is far from a science and that it is not possible to root out all potential mass murderers. Reacting to horrifying but occasional events by trying to disarm the entire population is foolish, impossible to accomplish, and punishes people who didn’t commit the crimes.

FW Ken
January 30, 2013

This thread is a good example of the difficulties we have in talking about this subject, and I assume that we all speak in good faith, with a real interest in seeing the violence decrease. The fact is that this is all complicated stuff, starting with the statistics.

If I may, I think I should explain what I meant by saying that Americans are ideologically incapable of addressing mental illness. Part of that is that we don’t want to pay for it. I worked in the state hospital during the last years of de-institutionalization and then in community centers during the implementation of community programs. What happened is that the institutions went from being snake pits to being real psychiatric hospitals. We dismantled a deeply destructive institutional system.

In Texas, at least, deinstitutionalization was sold on the basis that community services are cheaper, and that’s only true if you cheap out on the programs. A good system of care costs, whether in the institution or in the community.

There are other reasons the U.S. is not a culture that deals well with severe and persistent mental illness. Our native myth is that we can do anything, solve any problem. Medications have improved, psycho-social treatments have improved, supportive services have improved. But sort of aging out of the symptoms (which does happen), mental illness doesn’t go away.

The 60s crap about everyone creating their own reality (psychosis being a lifestyle choice) are not disconnected from our ethos of freedom and individual determination. Families are also considered autonomous. The Wedgewood Baptist Church shooter here in Fort Worth was clearly insane, and had been for awhile, but his family (father, I think, in particular) sheltered him. I read a comment recently from a Christian woman that if one of her children turned out to be gay, she wouldn’t tolerate any inference that they were not “normal”. It’s that attitude that creates part of the problem. Familial and social denial, abdication of responsibility, and/or collusion, even, are realities that “protect” the mentally ill, in truth leaving them without appropriate treatment or care, and putting all of us at risk.

Finally, mental illness isn’t one thing. It’s thought disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders. There can also be organic factors. Each of these types and factors require different responses. And any response that involves loss of freedom has to meet constitutional tests. We don’t just deprive people of their freedom without good cause and due process.

Like I say, it’s complicated.

Muerknz
January 31, 2013

From a foreigner’s point of view I don’t understand American gun attitudes. Here in NZ gun ownership isn’t a right per se, and the guns in legal circulation are usually not pistols or military style automatics (except for collectors). Most guns here are for hunting and some for sport target shooting. Our standard firearms license only covers sporting shotguns and rifles, for anything more you need a special endorsement.

Here’s some statistics from NZ Guns and Hunting:
http://www.colfo.org.nz/index.php/news/108-nz-guns-and-hunting-apr-2012

Gun deaths for NZ per 100,000 were 0.16, for America per 100,000 it was 10.4, Canada per 100,000 was 0.7.

Coming from a country where the need to protect oneself doesn’t require a gun I find it hard to wrap my head around the notion. Here having a gun around for protection would be a bit useless because weapons need to be disabled, locked away and the ammunition kept locked away separately. Ideally people are asked to keep their bolt/magazine locked in a third place.

People who own pistols and military style weapons are required to have even more security for their weapons. To buy or own a pistol here you have to belong to a registered Pistol Club or be a collector and you need an endorsement from the Police. You can only shoot a pistol here at a pistol club range and an arms officer has to check your house to make sure it’s stored properly. As well as that you can only move a pistol out of your home to the range or to a gunsmith/dealer.

Jay Random
January 31, 2013

Bill (not IB):

Adding in another bolt cycle, the total would come to about 11 seconds – or to be generous, an average of 4 seconds per shot. That means that with a bolt operated rifle, getting off 15 rounds a minute is no problem.

As corroborating evidence, 15 rounds per minute was the standard for sustained aimed fire in the British Army until 1914, using bolt-action rifles. The battles of Mons and Le Cadeau showed that British professional infantry, firing their 15 rounds a minute, could make mincemeat out of German conscripts, despite the superior numbers and theoretically superior firepower of the Germans. The British were taking a potshot every four man-seconds; the Germans were basically spraying bullets and hoping that some might take effect. (Source: John Keegan, The First World War)

Katherine
January 31, 2013

Muerknz, automatic weapons have been illegal here, except for collectors, since the mid 1930s.

FW Ken, based on the scant information about the Newtown shooter available, it appears that protection and denial played a large part. My guess is that his condition deteriorated and his mother didn’t want to face it.

Ed the Roman
January 31, 2013

” The British were taking a potshot every four man-seconds; the Germans were basically spraying bullets and hoping that some might take effect.”

In early engagements with US Marines, the Germans believed themselves to be facing machine gun battalions.

Muerk
January 31, 2013

What about semi-automatics? Military semi-automatics here also require a special endorsement and all the extra safety precautions.

Anne B.
January 31, 2013

“Coming from a country where the need to protect oneself doesn’t require a gun I find it hard to wrap my head around the notion.”

No murderers in New Zealand? No violent predators? Lucky, lucky Kiwis.

Or do you have these kind of people too, and you’ve just found an effective way of dealing with them that doesn’t involve firearms? If you have, please let us know what it is. I’m serious.

FW Ken
January 31, 2013

Katherine,

I suspect you are right about the Newtown shooter, and his mother, protective or not, paid a terrible price. So did a lot of other people. Which just raises now questions about prevention.

FW Ken
January 31, 2013

More questions

Katherine
January 31, 2013

Muerknz, semi-automatics, yes. “Military”? I’d need to know what that means before I could answer. Actual military weapons can be automatic or semi-automatic.

Muerknz
January 31, 2013

Katherine:

Looking at the NZ Arms Code a military style semi-automatic is defined as –

Military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) firearms
Are firearms that require an endorsement on your firearms licence (E endorsement) and are subject to special security conditions. Only an E endorsed person may have or use an MSSA and it is an offence for anyone without this endorsement to fire one, even under supervision. Only persons 18 years of age or older can have an endorsement for one of these firearms. A permit to procure the MSSA must be obtained from an Arms Officer before taking possession of it. MSSAs require greater storage security than for standard sporting firearms.

An MSSA is a self-loading rifle or shotgun with one or more of the following features:

Folding or telescopic butt
Magazine that holds, or has appearance of holding, more than 15 cartridges for .22 rimfire
Magazine that holds, or has appearance of holding, more than 7 cartridges for others
Bayonet lug
Military pattern free standing pistol grip
Flash suppresser

You need a permit from the Police to obtain one of these firearms.

http://www.police.govt.nz/services/firearms/arms-code-section-3#3a

Muerknz
January 31, 2013

Anne B:

We do have murders here and violent crime. Mass murders though are rare here. There’s been 10 in our history, and the last one was in 1997.

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/violent-crime/page-5

In NZ defense is not a legitimate reason to possess a weapon. You certainly can not carry around a loaded gun, or have a loaded gun in your car. Even our police are usually unarmed. As I said earlier I don’t understand the culture of guns that is in American culture. I would imagine that unintentional gun deaths outweigh any protection they might offer. As well as that, how do you prove that shooting in self defense is a legitimate action? Here in NZ if you shoot someone it’s a murder charge, even for our police. Between 1941 and 2008 there were 22 people shot by police.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10539110

Katherine
January 31, 2013

I am no firearms expert. Some of those qualifications, I think, appeared in the ill-fated “assault” weapons ban. They were cosmetic and easily done without. I have a feeling the commonplace AR-15 here would not qualify as “military” where you are.

Stephen Decatur
January 31, 2013

The “military” features cited are similar to those cited for “assault weapons” in the US. If you read them you will see that they are completely meaningless. A collapsible stock, bayonet lug or a pistol grip do nothing to make a gun more dangerous. Period, full stop.

This sort of provision in law makes me think that the law is the sort of knee-jerk totemism and tribal signification I see continually from the Left in this country.

There are only 5 types of firearm action:
* single-shot – the used cartridge is removed and a new round is loaded manually
* bolt action/lever action – the used brass is ejected and the new round is loaded from a magazine by manual operation of mechanism
* revolver – several rounds are held ready and moved into firing position by the trigger pull
* self-loading/semi-auto – some of the force of firing a round is used to eject the old case and chamber a new one
* select fire/automatic – Either an external power source or the force of firing a round is used to eject the old brass, chamber AND FIRE a new round.

The only “military” weapons in that list are fully automatics weapons. In almost all countries, including the US, they are strictly controlled and virtually or actually outlawed.

Restricting a gun based on something purely cosmetic like the presence of a flash suppressor or bayonet lug would be like outlawing “military music” (denoted by 4/4 time and the use of bugles) or “military clothing” (camouflage patterned). It might calm the nerves of someone particularly hoplophobic, but it’s only real effect is to allow the lawmaker to set himself above the sort of people who like that stuff. I don’t know what the equivalent would be in NZ, but the idea here is “Aren’t we all so much better than that redneck?”

Muerk
January 31, 2013

I’m not knowledgable about guns but I assume weapons with the features described are unnecessary for sporting purposes. Our laws are based on firearms owners having a purpose for their guns other than shooting people.

It seems to work here.

Muerk
January 31, 2013

Katherine:

Yup, you can buy AR-15s her in NZ. There’s even an online shop just for them:
http://www.nzar15.com/
However you need a police order form to buy them so I think that means you need a special endorsement on your firearms license.

Katherine
February 1, 2013

All I can say is that New Zealand is not the U.S.

Muerk
February 1, 2013

No, it certainly isn’t. And whilst there are things I love about the US, I don’t envy your tragic record of mass shootings, especially in schools. I doubt there will be an easy fix for it either.

dominic1955
February 2, 2013

I’d love to see some of the natural wonders of New Zealand, but I would loathe living there and having to jump through all those asinine hoops to do something I have a natural right to. Shooting someone is murder, even if its defensive? Insane.

Anne B.
February 2, 2013

Muerk, I realize that the subject of this post was Sandy Hook, and I’m glad that NZ hasn’t had any mass shootings in 16 years. But you say you DO have violent crime, and I ask again: what is the average law-abiding citizen expected (or allowed) to do in his own defense? Anything at all?

Here in Chicago we broke the 500 mark in murders last year. None of them were “mass” shootings. Just about all of them committed by thugs and criminals who (surprise!) don’t have the Firearms Owner Identification Card or obtain their weapons legally. Think they’re going to give up their guns voluntarily, or allow the police to come in and confiscate what they find? Then why should the rest of us?

Kmark
February 4, 2013

I am not familiar with the statistics out of Britain, Australia and New Zealand so excuse if I get this wrong, but if restricting the rights of citizens to own guns does not lower the rate of violence and the number of murders by other means and only leaves citizens defenseless against criminals, what has been accomplished?

FW Ken
February 4, 2013

Kmark -

That’s sort of the issue.

;-)

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