“How do You Propose to End Mass Shootings Then?” A Blast from the Past.

So this is needed:

I get that question whenever I object to more “gun control” as a response to the latest tragedy.  I have long held, and continue to hold, the position that more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners is not the answer to mass murder.  It doesn’t work.  It just leaves the law abiding helpless in the face of criminal violence.

First, let’s dispense with that “end”. I hate to tell you this, but you can’t end them.  “Gun control” certainly cannot.  France’s strict gun control did not prevent Charlie Hebdo nor the 2015 Paris attacks.  India’s draconian gun laws did not prevent Mumbai.  Norway’s gun laws did not stop the spree shooter there.  And so on.

“Ending” is an unachievable target.  No matter what you do, somebody, somewhere, who intends to harm others–particularly if the’re looking at going out in a blaze of “glory” (with “infamy” serving for their purpose)–will find a way to do it.  When you use it as a justification for restrictions on the law abiding there is no end to that.  No restrictions will ever be enough.  So it will always be an excuse for more restrictions.  And if at any point anyone objects, you can do then as you do now and say “Don’t you care about the victims of gun crime?”

Sorry if you don’t like that, but the truth hurts sometimes.

So, can’t end them, not entirely, but you can improve the situation.  In fact, you can improve it a lot.

“Ah, hah!” you say. “Gun control, right?”

Nope.  In fact, gun control is a large part of the problem.  The vast, vast majority of mass shootings of the “spree killer” type (which is what most people think of when you say “mass shooting” and is different in causes and dynamics than the “domestic murder-suicide” types and the “gang war” types, both of which require different approaches to reduce) happen in gun free zones.  The El Paso shooter, in his manifesto (of which only his rant on immigration got widespread publication in the media; for some reason they didn’t bother to mention his rant on the environment and his rant on business) said:

Remember: it is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit. AKA (sic) Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfll (sic) your super soldier COD [Call of Duty first person shooter video game] fantasy. Attack low security targets. Even though you might out gun a security guard or police man, they likely beat you in armor, training and numbers. Do not throw away your life on an unnecessarily dangerous target. If a target seems too hot, live to fight another day.

More than 90 percent of mass shootings happen in gun free zones.  Numbers vary depending on source (which can vary in how they’re counted) but the figures I’ve seen range from 92 to 97 percent.  Yes, even the Fort Hood massacre, on an Army base, and the Norfolk Navy Yard shooting, Navy base, were “gun free zones” for this purpose–the military forbade personnel from being armed unless they were doing so as part of their duties–Stateside that meant Military Police on duty.

These shootings tend to stop once the shooter encounters armed resistance.  Indeed, as I have noted before, FBI studies covering 2000 to 2017 had 33 cases of spree killers where armed citizens were present.  In 25 of them, the armed citizen totally stopped the attack.  In an additional 6 the armed citizens reduced the number of casualties.  That’s 94% of the time the situation is made better by armed citizens being present.  And what about the claim that people “getting caught in the crossfire” would make the situation worse?  Those same reports also give the number of innocents killed by the armed citizens in those incidents.  It’s a surprising number, all told.  That number?

Zero.

So, with that information in hand, here’s my approach to dealing with mass shootings:

  1. End “gun free zones.” The idea that forbidding law abiding American Citizens from being armed for their own protection somehow makes them safer is as ridiculous in specific locations as it is in general.  As we’ve seen, it only makes those places attractive targets for those who don’t care that it’s illegal.  If they’re going to break laws on murder breaking laws forbidding them to carry weapons at the place they plan to commit the murder isn’t going to stop them.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s patently absurd.
  2. End this practice of “may issue” on state licenses to carry firearms.  Making the exercise of a Constitutional right dependent on the often arbitrary decision of government officials is a violation of basic human rights (the right to life is meaningless without the right to defend that life and the right to defend that life is meaningless without the right to effective means to defend that life). “May issue” which is generally worded as needing to show “good cause” generally works out in practice to issue only to those who are politically connected in the local power structure.  It’s wrong.  Stop it.
    If you must have licensing (the Constitution and the Second Amendment should be all the license required but I recognize that’s not politically achievable at this time) then it needs to be “shall issue.” The State has to show good-cause to deny, not the other way around.
  3. Nationwide reciprocity.  The Constitution requires States to give “full faith and credit” to the “Public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of the other States.  Marriages in one state are valid in every other.  Drivers licenses issued in one state are valid in every other.  And so, carry licenses issued in one state should be valid in every other.  Again, the Constitution and the Second Amendment should be the only license required but, again, that’s not politically achievable for the foreseeable future.

Boom.  Done.  Mass shooting spree killer problem dealt with.  There are no longer soft targets for them to attack and if they decide to try anyway, the odds are good that someone will be present and in a position to deal with it.

Now, some folk will say we need to do more.  Well, okay, I can give you more.

  1. Establish a fund to provide cash rewards to those who engage and stop a spree killer. Let’s show, clearly and unequivocally, of the “put your money where your mouth is” variety, that we as a society approve of people protecting themselves and those around them from those attempting to do them harm.
  2. We want more people skilled and able to deal with threats, so make marksmanship and CQB electives in highs school and college (“any institution that accepts federal funds must…” if the other side can use that, so can we).  These classes to be taught by military personnel. (Frankly, I do not trust professional “educators” to do so, not with the indoctrination they get at the typical school of education.  Military personnel is not an ideal solution but stipulating private organizations would allow anti-gun groups to be chosen and singling out specific pro-gun organizations as the sole possibilities presents makes me squicky from a liberty point of view.)  Oh, and if that state requires training for a carry license (And while I’m a fan of training, I’m not a fan of mandating it–it’s a freedom thing) then make that class also available as an elective in High School and college.
    1. I’ll bend on the “not mandatory” in having gun safety and safe gun handling be a required course in elementary or middle school at the latest.  Again, taught by military for the reasons mentioned above.
  3. Implement the “Some Asshole Initiative.” The reason these guys look for soft targets, look to rack up the high body counts in the first place, is that they’re looking for their moment of fame (infamy).  Stop.  Making.  These.  Assholes.  Famous.
    Unfortunately, there really isn’t any way to implement this “top down” without violating freedom so all I can really suggest here is a bottom up approach.  People need to stop naming these people in their own communications and express their displeasure to the media when they put their pictures out, name them, and basically making them famous.  Eventually, maybe, they’ll get the message that providing a forum and publicity to the spree killers is not good business.
    Hey, I can hope.

There, while nothing can completely eliminate tragedies in this imperfect world, this can at least trim them back so they’re not “trendy.” And they would do far more to reduce the incidence than any “gun control” ever can.

That’s the nice thing about being philosophically in favor of freedom is that it’s almost always also pragmatically better.  And the few exceptions we can usually deal with so long as we guard against going beyond those exceptions rather than using them as an excuse for yet more “exceptions.”

As for me, make mine freedom.

26 thoughts on ““How do You Propose to End Mass Shootings Then?” A Blast from the Past.”

  1. I wouldn’t require military. It might be part of a group of potential qualifications, but you can probably weed out firearms instructors like pilots: must have X hours logged in practical use and pass a test about firearm function, safety, and law.

    I’m also not crazy about cash rewards, due to potential unintended consequences. It feels like something that could get weird or manipulated. And I think the people I want to engage would do so anyway, because it’s the right thing to do.

    But otherwise I think it sounds good to me.

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    1. Any qualification requirements for the instructors beyond the most basic ones (military firearms instructor) can be perverted or manipulated to get useless types teaching bad critical skills/info. “X” hours of doing “Y”? They will severely limit which skills/areas/qualifications are “valid”. Pass a test? They will fill the test with anti-gun tropes and/or trick questions, and long-term-fail anyone who gets a single item incorrect. For those of us who have been doing/following anti-gun efforts for decades, we’ve seen most of this in practice already, somewhere in the USA.

      Best to keep it simple.

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  2. An armed citizenry will stop mass shootings.

    If we follow the 2nd Amendment and it’s meaning at the time of the founding, every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 55 are members of the militia and have a duty, when called upon, to serve and to keep and bear arms to come to the defense of their communities, the State, and the country. Unlike “freedom”, with liberty comes duty and responsibility.

    The militias should be “regulated” (trained) by either the state or local communities and, if every militia member was trained and carried a firearm, mass shootings like the one in Colorado would be difficult to carry out.

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  3. Here’s the problem with #6.

    Headline and all the news: “A white supremacist who we will not name went on a shooting spree and we must ban more guns”

    The back story: His name was Mohammed Mohammed Atullah Aziz.

    Not naming him makes it possible, in a world where the media is all in against guns, to lie with impunity. This is not speculation. This just happened in Colorado.

    I also would not put the military in charge of marksmanship training. There are plenty of groups out there who are qualified to do it and so long as you put stipulations on what will be taught it would be difficult for this to be coopted. Minimum curriculum requirements, minimum range time, minimum qualification scores to pass. There are plenty of military personnel who aren’t qualified to teach this so it would be easy enough to pull in some lefty who served as an appliance repair tech in Kansas and say “military personnel”.

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    1. Here’s the problem with #6.

      Since they do that anyway, as you so helpfully pointed out, that’s not a new problem. It’s already possible. The purpose of “not naming” is to remove the “I’ll become (in)famous” from the motivation of potential shooters.

      it would be difficult for this to be coopted

      Oh, you sweet summer child. The problem isn’t the curriculum criteria, the problem is what the instructor will “teach”. Yeah, put in those “minimum curriculum requirements” and instructor spends maybe half a class on that, then the rest of the time frothing at the mouth about “guns are teh ebbills!” The point of instructors being provided by the military, but that the military chooses. It would be a special duty assignment, like recruiting, precisely because I don’t trust the schools as they exist now and for the foreseeable future to deal with it honestly.

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      1. I concur that our current environment would be difficult. But I would certainly like to see just Any Old Joe teaching the firearms course as the ideal. And using the military isn’t a cure-all now, either. It could certainly produce instructors who are oriented on “Stop, Don’t Touch, Get an Adult” and the idea that civilians shouldn’t have guns. (And cops wouldn’t necessarily be any better.) So much would depend on good people vetting for good instructors.

        I think there’s no really good answer until we shift the culture back toward personal responsibility.

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  4. Those same reports also give the number of innocents killed by the armed citizens in those incidents.
    I would be interested in how many bystanders were wounded by a ‘good guy’ shooter.
    This isn’t a pushback or whatnot, but I don’t think cops kill a lot of bystanders, either, but they manage to wound a whole bunch. So, it would be an interesting comparison (especially since the same bunch of people think only cops are professional enough to have guns).
    I also would be interested if they did any analysis of number of shots fired vs. number of hits. Because even when cops manage not to wound bystanders, it seems to primarily be because they’re lucky no one was in the way of their strays.
    (And, no, not all cops are bad shots. But the ones in big cities/metropolises seem to be.)

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    1. The difference between armed citizens accidently shooting innocent bystanders and when the police do it is qualified immunity.

      Armed citizens are fully liable for their (accidental) actions whereas the individual police officers are not (assuming both used reasonable care).

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    2. What the “zero killed” point addresses is the usual claim that an armed citizen responding will “make it worse” with the implication that more people will be killed.

      That just doesn’t happen. Might some people be/have been wounded? Perhaps. But which is a preferable outcome, zero dead and five wounded or two dead and none wounded? And if we consider that armed citizens are likely to be at least as capable shots as the crazed spree killer the “ratio” of killed to wounded is likely to be similar. So fewer total dead, which the FBI stats demonstrate, also implies fewer total wounded.

      The whole “it’s worse for people to be caught in the crossfire” argument made by the antis completely breaks down in the face of how things actually play out.

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      1. Right. I think a comparison of wounded would also likely prove to demonstrate competence on the part of the armed citizen. I wonder if it would also favorably compare to police statistics (I’m betting so).

        I would rather be caught in the crossfire of a bad guy and an armed citizen than in the crossfire with a bad guy and cops.

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  5. One other item on the “may issue” and such: it violates the principle of rule of law.
    Proving that you ‘need’ a gun means it’s a privilege to be doled out at the whim of the ruling class. There is absolutely no way you can make it objective (denying it because of convictions, OTOH, can be objective), and therefore there is no way an impartial gov’t can enforce it – only a class, or individuals could.

    Also…
    the odds are good that someone will be present and in a position to deal with it
    Well, maybe not. In a permissive environment, this might not be the case. If our world is safe enough (you know all the info about how people fail to understand statistics and such) a huge majority will never feel the ‘need’ to pack heat. And so your odds of a good guy with a gun are not going to rise terribly high most places. (They will certainly improve in some places, though they might not ever rise awfully high.)
    In an encouraged environment, though, they might. You have to accompany the other bits with encouraging a culture of firearms training, use, and carry. A culture leaning away from avoiding risk and toward mitigating and ending risk (not ending the risk, actually, but ending the issue once the risk has been realized).
    (And you do go into that in #5. 🙂 ) (BTW, I think you’ve done a post on understanding risk before.)

    As to #4, I’ll go you one step further. I think we should encourage bounties on bad guys, period. Take it up a step from “reward for information leading to…” malarkey, but “reward for capture of…”. We lost our self-reliance once we took the step of insisting that no “civilian” should ever go after bad guys – whether because of fear of injustice or fear of “civilians” getting hurt. Reinforce the idea that the police are merely paid to do full-time what a free, responsible citizen should be doing anyway. (Peelian Principles)

    On #5: I have long advocated mandatory gun safety classes in middle school/junior high (that include general knowledge of the range of firearms). And I think (because militias! and desiring competent gun carriers) competency training should be nearly mandatory, as well. I think a failure to pass such a course (or to choose a conscientious objector alternative) should be noted on your DL/ID as a restriction against carrying concealed. Community colleges could offer the classes for those who failed to pass in school.

    The one “problem” with the freedom-minded approach to this is it isn’t immediate. Now, neither is the other side’s, but their ideas are kinda permanent, and give you the advantage of feeling like you’re doing something right now. Their proposals feed the human need to “Don’t just stand there, DO SOMETHING!” So we will struggle to accomplish much, while they will hare off and accomplish much – none of it good. Blecch.

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  6. Two more suggestions:
    – Bring back stop and frisk, with reasonable precautions.
    – Make mandatory long mail sentences for gun crimes, and then ENFORCE them.

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  7. Out of interest, you refer to mass shootings in other parts of the world, and yes, ending them is difficult, but France, Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan… among others… have very few mass shootings, especially compared to the USA. In fact, the USA’s homicide rate with guns alone is higher than the homicide rates of the UK and Japan (with any form of weaponry) combined. Mass shootings in the UK are a virtual unknown and gun violence in Japan is virtually unheard of. The choice is not between ‘all or nothing’.

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    1. Per capita, the number of people killed in mass shootings in the US is not the highest in the world even though the US has more guns in private hands per capita than any other nation in the world by a substantial margin. The countries you name either never had a significant private gun ownership or had low violent crime rates before they instituted various “gun control” measures. I have, many times, asked anti-gun folk to name one nation that had high violent crime, instituted “gun control”, and as a result produced low violent crime. The best anyone has ever come up with is Australia where violent crime was on the decline before instituting their semi-auto ban, and that trend continued after. The anti-gun folk will pick a “high point” in the random year to year variation before the ban and compare it to a “low point” after and say “see?” (and, yes, some of the pro-gun folk will do the reverse, picking a “low point” in the random variation before the ban and a “high point” afterward) but the overall trend continues essentially unchanged. The ban accomplished nothing.

      The anti-gun folk, however ignore those facts and thus talk of “ending”. They ignore what actually happens in other countries, make false claims (“this doesn’t happen in other countries” being one) and set an impossible goal of actually ending such crimes. But when you do get away from that all-or-nothing approach and look at the kinds of things that actually work, gun prohibition is rapidly seen as counterproductive as was alcohol prohibition. In particular when you note that the vast majority of spree killings happen where legal guns are prohibited. There is a reason for that. And those few cases when they don’t, when armed, law-abiding citizens are present, once again in the vast majority of cases they either stop the attack cold or at the very least reduce the number of casualties.

      After all, how many mass shootings have there been at gun ranges? (And please note, I specify mass shootings here.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your interesting answer. I’ll endeavour to go through it as tidily as I can.

        [quote]Per capita, the number of people killed in mass shootings in the US is not the highest in the world even though the US has more guns in private hands per capita than any other nation in the world by a substantial margin. The countries you name either never had a significant private gun ownership or had low violent crime rates before they instituted various “gun control” measures. I have, many times, asked anti-gun folk to name one nation that had high violent crime, instituted “gun control”, and as a result produced low violent crime. The best anyone has ever come up with is Australia where violent crime was on the decline before instituting their semi-auto ban, and that trend continued after. The anti-gun folk will pick a “high point” in the random year to year variation before the ban and compare it to a “low point” after and say “see?” (and, yes, some of the pro-gun folk will do the reverse, picking a “low point” in the random variation before the ban and a “high point” afterward) but the overall trend continues essentially unchanged. The ban accomplished nothing.[/quote]

        I can’t help but wonder, if as you say gun control measures have actually meant nothing, that the problem then, is more cultural? To the outsider looking in, the US has an unhealthy relationship with deadly weapons. The US may not be the worst in the world for mass shootings, but in comparison to other developed nations it certainly is. The past couple of weeks have seen more occurrences of this tragic phenomenon than the UK has faced since Dunblane, when we took decisive action to reduce the risk of a school shooting happening again. Consequently, my worries for my daughter when she’s at school relate to whether she’s coping with the work, not about the possibility that someone will attack her school with semi-automatic weapons. The refusal to consider amending anything, even when people like Stephen Paddock can buy enough weapons for a small army without being stopped, is worrying to anyone outside the US looking in.

        It must also be addressed that 73% of all US murders in 2019 involved guns. As a percentage, the combined murders of England & Wales, Canada and Australia adds up to less. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41488081

        You argue that the countries I listed didn’t have much in the way of guns even before they instituted gun control laws. That may be true. It also tells us something – they didn’t have much in the way of guns and were not especially violent. When something *did* happen involving firearms, steps were taken to address the issue.

        What also matters is that these different countries have taken different measures to one another to address gun violence, especially mass shootings but not limited to mass shootings. These various measures haven’t been 100% effective but then again, they’ve been more effective than doing nothing.

        [quote]The anti-gun folk, however ignore those facts and thus talk of “ending”. They ignore what actually happens in other countries, make false claims (“this doesn’t happen in other countries” being one) and set an impossible goal of actually ending such crimes. But when you do get away from that all-or-nothing approach and look at the kinds of things that actually work, gun prohibition is rapidly seen as counterproductive as was alcohol prohibition. In particular when you note that the vast majority of spree killings happen where legal guns are prohibited. There is a reason for that. And those few cases when they don’t, when armed, law-abiding citizens are present, once again in the vast majority of cases they either stop the attack cold or at the very least reduce the number of casualties.

        After all, how many mass shootings have there been at gun ranges? (And please note, I specify mass shootings here.)[/quote]

        Do we truly know that mass shootings could have been prevented by the presence of armed civilians? The US robbery and rape rates are broadly similar to those in the UK, Canada, France and Germany, despite having more people armed, as it were. The presence of guns hasn’t reduced the rate at which robbery and rape take place and only makes it more likely that someone will die in such an incident. The notion that the good guy with the gun will stop the bad guy has been heavily romanticised but it isn’t necessarily accurate. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-guns-self-defense-charleston-20150619-story.html

        It’s also worth asking, is it definitely true that mass shootings take place largely in gun-free zones? I imagine that depends on your definition of gun-free zones. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/05/10/do-98-percent-of-mass-public-shootings-happen-in-gun-free-zones/

        It would seem opinions vary wildly on that…

        What’s also interesting is that US states with stricter gun control laws have some of the lowest death rates from guns. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/the-states-with-the-most-gun-laws-see-the-fewest-gun-related-deaths/448044/

        I was told by someone that an armed society is a polite society, yet it seems the safest societies on earth are the ones with the fewest guns.

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        1. Note, your comment ended up in moderation because of multiple links (more than two links triggers auto moderation, as does first comment made from any given email address).

          I’ve discussed most of these things elsewhere in this blog, but I’ll hit a few high points here.

          To the outsider looking in, the US has an unhealthy relationship with deadly weapons.

          Flip side, looking outside the US, most folk have an unhealthy relationship with overly powerful governments. If you took the year with the highest number of homicides ever in the US (on the close order of 30 years ago, in point of fact) it would take over 6000 of those to equal the number of people killed by their own governments in the 20th century. I’m not talking about people killed by enemy forces in wars, but people killed by their. own. governments. And that’s using relatively conservative numbers for people killed by their own governments, some estimates go much, much higher.

          For comparison, 6000 years ago people in the fertile crescent were just discovering agriculture. The wheel was in the future, as was writing. The primary tool-making materials were stone, wood, and bone. Bronze was still a millennium in the future. The longest any kind of political continuity has ever been maintained–Rome, if counted from its founding to the eventual fall of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire, “Roman” in their own thinking) was about 2000 years. It would take 3 times as long as that for criminal homicides in the US to “catch up” to people slaughtered by their own governments. Care to try to justify a belief that at no time in the next 6000 years will there be a need for people to forcibly resist a government gone rogue? History certainly does not justify any such pious hope.

          The refusal to consider amending anything, even when people like Stephen Paddock can buy enough weapons for a small army without being stopped, is worrying to anyone outside the US looking in.

          Whereas I would find it worrying that people in the UK can be arrested for tweets. I mean, I would if I gave it much thought at all. Your country, you’re welcome to go to Niflhel in your own way. We fought a war 245 years ago so we didn’t have to worry about what you thought.

          As a percentage, the combined murders of England & Wales, Canada and Australia adds up to less.

          I will note here that the UK counts homicides quite differently from the US. It’s next to impossible to make a direct “apples to apples” comparison. The difficulty is illustrated here:
          https://rboatright.blogspot.com/2013/03/comparing-england-or-uk-murder-rates.html

          The comparisons aren’t apples to oranges. At least apples and oranges are pieces of fruit. They’re apples and moon rocks.

          You argue that the countries I listed didn’t have much in the way of guns even before they instituted gun control laws.

          Uh, no. I didn’t argue that “they didn’t have much in the way of guns”. I argued that they didn’t have much in the way of violent crime. What is completely lacking is:
          1: Country has high violent crime.
          2: Country passes restrictions on gun ownership
          3: Country ends up with low violent crime.

          The trend is usually the other way, they end up with more violent crime after passing gun control than they had before. The only real example counter to that is Australia where a downward trend that was already occurring before their semi-auto ban continued afterward.

          On the flip side, in the US, starting in the mid 90’s (back when we had that historical highest ever homicide rate and comparable other violent crimes), various states went “shall issue” (rather than a person having to show “good cause” to get a permit to carry a handgun, the State had to show valid reason, usually criminal history, to deny the permit). Others went “Constitutional carry” (no permit required). In more subtle matters, restrictions on what, where, and how one could carry were eased. The result was more people carrying more guns, in more places than ever before. And, strangely enough, violent crime has been falling to rates not seen since the early 60’s, to rates close to 100 year lows. More people carrying more guns in more places and falling violent crime rates. Although you wouldn’t know that to listen to the media. “If it bleeds, it leads” never mind actual political bias.

          Do we truly know that mass shootings could have been prevented by the presence of armed civilians?

          FBI studies covering the span from 2000 to 2017 found 33 incidents where armed citizens were present. In 75% of those cases, the armed citizen was able to stop the attack completely. In another 19-20% (depending on how one rounds things) they at least slow down the spree killer, reducing the number of casualties. Oh, and just to be clear, the number of people killed by “stray shots” from the armed citizen? Zero. That’s 94-95% where having an armed citizen unequivocally makes the matter better.

          That’s not speculation about what could happen. That’s what has happened, repeatedly. There is a reason why 92% of all mass shootings happen in “gun free zones.” They know going in that nobody will be able to shoot back, at least until police finally arrive minutes to hours later.

          And still, not a single mass shooting at a gun range. All those people with all those loaded guns and not once has anyone managed to commit a mass shooting at one.

          Mass shootings almost never happen where people are allowed to be armed, and when they do, in the vast majority of cases they are stopped or at least slowed down by armed citizens. Not speculation. Not theory. What. actually. has. happened.

          The LA times article is a political fluff piece.

          What’s also interesting is that US states with stricter gun control laws have some of the lowest death rates from guns.

          And the Atlantic article is another political fluff piece. They get those numbers by counting suicides. The presence or absence of a gun does not affect whether a person is suicidal or not. It might, and very likely does, affect the method chosen for suicide. Thus, where guns are more available, more of the folk who are suicidal choose guns rather than some other means (hanging, exsanguination, falls from a tall building, stepping in front of trains, overdoses, etc). Including suicides in “gun violence” is a classic example of lying with statistics. As just one example of why it’s…questionable at best, is the case of Japan, virtually no guns in private hands and yet their suicide rate is higher than the US’s suicide and homicide rates combined.

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            1. Be my guest. However note that I do expect people to make their own case here and not play “let’s you and him fight” games where folk have to chase down the link and refute that.

              So make your case. Links to show source data for the case are fine but you need to make your case.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. The reason for that is that Brandolini’s Principle is already bad enough but asymmetry gets far worse when one is allowed to simply throw link after link expecting the other guy to refute every point in every link. Posting a link requires a lot less energy than refuting the contents of one.

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              2. I would tend to agree, which is why I’ve quoted from links and explained them as well. You may not find it to be a thorough exercise on my part, but I can certainly produce one, depending on whether I deem it a worthwhile use of my time.

                I’ll try to bear in mind the link situation.

                [quote]Flip side, looking outside the US, most folk have an unhealthy relationship with overly powerful governments. If you took the year with the highest number of homicides ever in the US (on the close order of 30 years ago, in point of fact) it would take over 6000 of those to equal the number of people killed by their own governments in the 20th century. I’m not talking about people killed by enemy forces in wars, but people killed by their. own. governments. And that’s using relatively conservative numbers for people killed by their own governments, some estimates go much, much higher.[/quote]

                That isn’t truly the flip side of the gun argument. Right now the USA has three cities on the list of top fifty dangerous cities in the world for murder. New York’s murder rate is twice as high as London’s. To justify these figures, we are led to believe it’s all necessary to hold off greater bloodshed, a bogeyman of sorts, that paralyzes any meaningful attempt to address what is an on-going problem.

                [QUOTE]For comparison, 6000 years ago people in the fertile crescent were just discovering agriculture. The wheel was in the future, as was writing. The primary tool-making materials were stone, wood, and bone. Bronze was still a millennium in the future. The longest any kind of political continuity has ever been maintained–Rome, if counted from its founding to the eventual fall of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire, “Roman” in their own thinking) was about 2000 years. It would take 3 times as long as that for criminal homicides in the US to “catch up” to people slaughtered by their own governments. Care to try to justify a belief that at no time in the next 6000 years will there be a need for people to forcibly resist a government gone rogue? History certainly does not justify any such pious hope.[/QUOTE]

                In many historical situations there has been relative parity between government forces and insurgents. That parity is rapidly eroding. Were the US government to turn the military upon the US people tomorrow, what measure of resistance do you truly believe would be possible? I am aware that you would argue the soldier on the ground would be vulnerable, and I am aware you would argue about the importance of the soldier on the ground, but guns or no guns, in such a scenario involving naval bombardments, warplanes, tanks and soldiers with training well beyond the average abilities of the average gun owner, the presence of guns wouldn’t prevent tremendous bloodshed. You might argue that this would be a public relations disaster, but a totalitarian regime wouldn’t care. If they had to carpet bomb a city to make a point, they would, and what would guns accomplish then?

                So we have a hypothetical scenario, but we also know the current reality – the USA has a problem with guns that’s unique among developed nations.

                [QUOTE]Whereas I would find it worrying that people in the UK can be arrested for tweets. I mean, I would if I gave it much thought at all. Your country, you’re welcome to go to Niflhel in your own way. We fought a war 245 years ago so we didn’t have to worry about what you thought.[/QUOTE]

                I can only wonder what the ratio is of people being arrested for tweets in the UK compared to gun violence in the USA. Tell me, what *are* your thoughts on Paddock (the Vegas shooter) being able to acquire so many firearms?

                [quote]I will note here that the UK counts homicides quite differently from the US. It’s next to impossible to make a direct “apples to apples” comparison. The difficulty is illustrated here:
                https://rboatright.blogspot.com/2013/03/comparing-england-or-uk-murder-rates.html

                The comparisons aren’t apples to oranges. At least apples and oranges are pieces of fruit. They’re apples and moon rocks.[/quote]

                So what about comparisons between the US murder rate and Japan’s? Or France’s? Or Germany’s? Or Canada’s? We cannot write off the information ad-hoc. For instance, it seems highly unlikely that the figures this CNN post are based upon are so far out as to be meaningless. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/18/world/london-us-cities-homicide-rates-comparison-intl-gbr/index.html

                We also have United Nations data – probably the closest thing to a consistent measurement of intentional homicide – another interesting metric. https://dataunodc.un.org/content/data/homicide/homicide-rate and https://dataunodc.un.org/content/homicide-rate-option-2. According to the site, the USA’s most recent intentional homicide rate – 5 per 100,000 people. Japan’s? 0.3. Canada’s – 1.8. France’s was 1.2. Germany’s was 0.9.

                So, even if we remove the UK from the equation due to difficulties in comparing, the total homicide rates of Japan, France, Germany and Canada adds up to 4.2, less than the US rate. Assuming a broadly similar method of calculating homicides, this should be a source of concern at the very least, and it becomes more concerning when you consider that the US rate with guns alone in 2019 was 3.65, only slightly lower than the combined total rates of the other four nations listed.

                Then there’s this: https://dispellingthemythukvsusguns.wordpress.com/ with the implication that when similar metrics are used for various crimes, the US is a more dangerous country than the UK. However, to seek clarification on what metrics are used, I’ve reached out to both UK and US departments that cover such things. I’m awaiting their responses.

                [quote]Uh, no. I didn’t argue that “they didn’t have much in the way of guns”. I argued that they didn’t have much in the way of violent crime. What is completely lacking is:
                1: Country has high violent crime.
                2: Country passes restrictions on gun ownership
                3: Country ends up with low violent crime.

                The trend is usually the other way, they end up with more violent crime after passing gun control than they had before. The only real example counter to that is Australia where a downward trend that was already occurring before their semi-auto ban continued afterward.[/quote]

                Ok, fair enough, you didn’t argue they didn’t have much in the way of guns, but guns have never historically been part of UK culture, nor part of French, German or Japanese culture. We are broadly speaking much safer in the UK than in the USA. Japan is far safer than either the UK or USA (and for that matter far safer than most other countries on earth). Do you not feel there could be a correlation between countries with violent crime and how easy it is to obtain weapons designed for the purpose of killing throughout a nation’s history?

                Additionally, if you look at the UK’s homicide rate via https://dataunodc.un.org/content/data/homicide/homicide-rate, you’ll see that it’s currently no higher than it was back in 1990, and it has varied. Different metrics or not, It hasn’t been on a consistent upward trend. Between 1990 and now, France’s homicide rate has halved. Germany has encountered the occasional spike but the overall trend is that from a rate of 1.5 in 1990 to 0.9 in 2018. The Australian rate, as you say, has also dropped, more than halving in the same period of time. A further demonstration of this can be found here: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5?end=2018&locations=GB-FR-DE-US&start=1990&view=chart

                So, in terms of murder at least, it seems violent crime does not increase when gun control measures are passed. I assume you have sources that demonstrate a rise in violent crime after gun control measures were passed?

                [quote]On the flip side, in the US, starting in the mid 90’s (back when we had that historical highest ever homicide rate and comparable other violent crimes), various states went “shall issue” (rather than a person having to show “good cause” to get a permit to carry a handgun, the State had to show valid reason, usually criminal history, to deny the permit). Others went “Constitutional carry” (no permit required). In more subtle matters, restrictions on what, where, and how one could carry were eased. The result was more people carrying more guns, in more places than ever before. And, strangely enough, violent crime has been falling to rates not seen since the early 60’s, to rates close to 100 year lows. More people carrying more guns in more places and falling violent crime rates. Although you wouldn’t know that to listen to the media. “If it bleeds, it leads” never mind actual political bias.[/quote]

                The US homicide rate remains higher than most other developed nations by a considerable margin. Additionally, how do we know the reduction in murder is due to the presence of more guns? After all, are you not arguing that gun control measures have had no meaningful bearing on violent crime rates in other countries? Why then, would the absence of such measures have any meaningful bearing on US violent crime rates? So far, the evidence I’ve been able to find suggests a broad downward trend for certain forms of violent crime (such as murder), regardless of guns – but countries that historically haven’t had the… shall we say almost religious relationship with firearms have maintained much lower murder rates than the USA for a span of at least three decades. I don’t consider that to be a co-incidence.

                [QUOTE]FBI studies covering the span from 2000 to 2017 found 33 incidents where armed citizens were present. In 75% of those cases, the armed citizen was able to stop the attack completely. In another 19-20% (depending on how one rounds things) they at least slow down the spree killer, reducing the number of casualties. Oh, and just to be clear, the number of people killed by “stray shots” from the armed citizen? Zero. That’s 94-95% where having an armed citizen unequivocally makes the matter better.

                That’s not speculation about what could happen. That’s what has happened, repeatedly. There is a reason why 92% of all mass shootings happen in “gun free zones.” They know going in that nobody will be able to shoot back, at least until police finally arrive minutes to hours later.

                And still, not a single mass shooting at a gun range. All those people with all those loaded guns and not once has anyone managed to commit a mass shooting at one.

                Mass shootings almost never happen where people are allowed to be armed, and when they do, in the vast majority of cases they are stopped or at least slowed down by armed citizens. Not speculation. Not theory. What. actually. has. happened.[/QUOTE]

                I’d like to know if there are any links available for these studies, if you don’t mind, as I’ve searched for the evidence that mass shootings are slowed or prevented by armed citizens, and so far haven’t found any. Also, I’d like to know your thoughts on why mass shootings are virtually *unheard* of in the UK, France, Germany etc, when compared to the USA? Furthermore, there are studies that suggest the presence of guns fails as a deterrent against violent crime – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/more-guns-do-not-stop-more-crimes-evidence-shows/#:~:text=In%202015%20Hemenway%20and%20his,the%20presence%20of%20a%20victim.

                I quote from the article: ‘Also in 2015 a combined analysis of 15 different studies found that people who had access to firearms at home were nearly twice as likely to be murdered as people who did not.’ The article also demonstrates that rape rates are not noticeably different in states with more guns – for that particular violent crime, they are not effective a deterrent as we might be led to believe.

                [quote]And the Atlantic article is another political fluff piece. They get those numbers by counting suicides. The presence or absence of a gun does not affect whether a person is suicidal or not. It might, and very likely does, affect the method chosen for suicide. Thus, where guns are more available, more of the folk who are suicidal choose guns rather than some other means (hanging, exsanguination, falls from a tall building, stepping in front of trains, overdoses, etc). Including suicides in “gun violence” is a classic example of lying with statistics. As just one example of why it’s…questionable at best, is the case of Japan, virtually no guns in private hands and yet their suicide rate is higher than the US’s suicide and homicide rates combined.[/quote]

                Ok, fair enough. However, the US suicide rate with guns is the 2nd-highest in the world involving guns circa 2016: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/theres-a-new-global-ranking-of-gun-deaths-heres-where-the-u-s-stands.

                Additionally, the total US suicide rate in 2016 was 13.7 per 100,000 people and Japan’s was 14.3. Given the US homicide rate has generally been 5 per 100,000 and Japan’s less than 1, it’s the USA’s combined suicide and homicide rate that’s actually quite a bit higher than Japan’s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

                I imagine that we will not find a common ground in all of this, so I will mention something I’ve mentioned before when discussing guns, more than once, and leave it as ‘food for thought’. In the USA, there is the ever-present fear among parents that they will send their children to school and they won’t come home, because someone decided to take powerful, deadly weaponry into the school. In the UK, we had such an incident, Dunblane, and action was taken to prevent something like that from happening again. There is no perfect system and no one can ever definitively say it will never ever happen again, but the frequency of such attacks in the UK is incredibly rare, especially when weighed up against what happens in the USA. The lack of will to tackle this subject is quite tragic. I do not worry that my daughter will not come home from school because of a shooter. I worry that she is getting on with her schoolwork. That’s the extent of it.

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              3. The jumping back and forth between your comment and my response may mean that some of the comment/response sections may get out of order. Please bear with me.

                Right now the USA has three cities on the list of top fifty dangerous cities in the world for murder.

                And those three cities are among the ones with the most strict restrictions on the owning and carrying of guns. And, even so, criminal homicides are a drop in the bucket compared to governments killing their own people. Our highest number of homicides ever would still require 6000 years to match the number of people killed by their own governments in the 20th century. Private citizens with guns, including all criminal uses, are simply less dangerous than governments.

                The US homicide rate remains higher than most other developed nations by a considerable margin.

                And the only difference between the US and those nations is our gun laws? Sorry, but that’s simply not the case. Countries with strict gun laws may have lower homicide rates (although it’s telling that you limit to “developed nations”–that’s an admission that other factors do matter more or there’d be no need to make that qualification) but what you don’t find is countries that had lax gun laws and high violent crime which passed strict gun laws and ended up with low violent crime. And so, correlation is not causation.

                Were the US government to turn the military upon the US people tomorrow, what measure of resistance do you truly believe would be possible?

                You know, people keep telling us that lightly armed irregulars cannot win against the US military in the US. Those same people keep telling us that the US military cannot win against lightly armed irregulars in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and a little place called Vietnam. I wish those people would pick a position and stick to it. I have actually addressed that issue before. The upshot is that all that super high tech military hardware is of limited use when it comes to fighting an insurgency, particularly a domestic insurgency. Unless one is really trying to go “scorched earth” of the “He made a desert and called it peace” variety, you need popular will to deal with an insurgency. And the more use of “heavy weapons” on. your. own. people. the less popular will you’re going to have.

                I’ve discussed before here: https://thewriterinblack.com/2021/04/01/the-government-has-cruise-missiles/
                and here: https://thewriterinblack.com/2020/01/20/you-cant-fight-the-military-with-rifles-a-blast-from-the-past/

                highly unlikely that the figures this CNN post are based upon are so far out as to be meaningless.

                Actually it’s extremely likely, CNN is not a disinterested reporter. They have an agenda and are perfectly capable of “cherry picking” their data or outright fabricating it. I have, on more than one occasion, been at locations which were reported on via CNN. Not once did what they report match what I saw and heard.

                We also have United Nations data

                The United Nations that just put Iran on the council on women’s rights. Tell me again why I should pay any attention to anything the UN says?

                So, even if we remove the UK from the equation due to difficulties in comparing,

                The UK was simply an example of which I had figures available. Why assume that the others are any more comparable without, you know, going in and actually digging into the data–which none of these things do. They simply collect the data reported to them.

                Let me give you another example: Japan. In Japan there was a murder suicide case that I saw on local news while visiting there (business trip–also my ex, then wife, is Japanese so I took the time to stay over to visit). Man killed his parents (who lived in the same household), wife, and child, then himself. Four murders and one suicide, right? Wrong. In the Japanese statistics that was counted as five suicides.

                Maybe that “suicide rate” being higher than our suicide and homicide rates combined isn’t true after all. Maybe a lot of their “suicides” are actually what we would call “homicides.”

                but guns have never historically been part of UK culture,

                “That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.” ― George Orwell.
                But, of course, you wouldn’t know today because, to use another Orwell line, “Oceanea has always been at war with Eastasia.”

                you’ll see that it’s currently no higher than it was back in 1990

                That just means that no more cases are cleared, no more killers convicted. See previous link about how the UK counts homicides which makes interpreting such figures dubious.

                So, in terms of murder at least, it seems violent crime does not increase when gun control measures are passed.

                Murder isn’t the only violent crime. Rape (see “grooming gangs”), robbery, aggravated assault, “home invasion” (that’s illegal entry into a dwelling with the occupants present), and so forth are also part of the picture.

                The Australian rate, as you say, has also dropped

                And, as I pointed out, it was dropping before the gun ban went into effect. That it continued to fall afterward cannot, then, be attributed to the ban. I mean, there’s a principle in physics that a cause must precede an effect in time. You can’t do something now to cause an effect in the past.

                The US homicide rate remains higher than most other developed nations by a considerable margin.

                And went down with more people being allowed to carry more guns in more places than ever before. Maybe the cause lies elsewhere than in the guns? Have you ever even considered that or is “it’s the guns” a simple article of faith with you (if it is, then we’re done).

                Additionally, how do we know the reduction in murder is due to the presence of more guns?

                I didn’t say it was. I said that more guns did not cause more crime. The premise that “it’s the guns” would require that more guns and more people carrying more guns in more place would lead to more crime. It doesn’t.

                Also, I’d like to know your thoughts on why mass shootings are virtually *unheard* of in the UK, France, Germany etc, when compared to the USA?

                Mass shootings are “hens teeth” events to begin with. They’re rare (again, despite what the media would tell you). Smaller populations would have fewer simply from their smaller size. Poland, as just one example, has about the same population as California…plus the US has 49 other States. Per capita, however, out of Europe, Canada, and the US covering the years 2009 to 2015, when it comes to casualties the US ranks 12th.

                https://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/

                Now, admittedly, a single incident drove the high numbers for Norway, but that doesn’t explain the other 10 that rank higher than the US, all with much more stringent gun laws than the US.

                “Unheard of” is not the same as “Non-existent.

                ‘Also in 2015 a combined analysis of 15 different studies found that people who had access to firearms at home were nearly twice as likely to be murdered as people who did not.’

                And a combined analysis of studies would likely also show that people who had access to insulin in the home were far more likely to die of complications due to diabetes than those who did not. That quote, thus, is crap. Are people who perceive themselves to be at risk of violence more likely to arm themselves? If so, then the causal arrow could well go the other way. Also, I find the claim itself dubious. There are more than 100 million gun owners in the US. Since many of those gun owners live in households where someone else in the “household” is not a gun owner but would, nevertheless, have access to guns (my 16 year old daughter, or my ex wife before we split, being two examples). So, at least half the population qualifies as “people who have access to firearms at home”. And that would mean that at least 2/3 of all murders must happen to people who have firearms at home. I’m going to need more than handwaving “we looked at 15 studies” to support such a claim. Note that Scientific American is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It’s editorial staff has no particular expertise in criminology. And, in fact, it has been mostly a political magazine claiming the cachet of science since I was in high school (more than 40 years ago) at least. It’s no more a source for objective news than the New Yorker or National Review (choosing examples from both the Left and Right).

                However, the US suicide rate with guns is the 2nd-highest in the world involving guns

                As I pointed out, the presence or absence of a gun only affects choice of method. It does not affect whether a person does or does not commit suicide. In per-capita suicide rate the US ranks 34th of 183 countries. And, once again, those countries above the US on the list have more stringent gun laws than the US. Maybe it’s not the guns? So the suicidal in the US will often use a gun because they have one. Not having one doesn’t suddenly make them not suicidal. Not having one simply means they choose something else to end their life. This should not be rocket science.

                Additionally, the total US suicide rate in 2016 was 13.7 per 100,000 people and Japan’s was 14.3.

                Shrug. Numbers changed since the last time I looked. Japan’s suicide rate has apparently fallen (or at least their claimed numbers have fallen) since then. Doesn’t change the overall point regarding suicide.

                As a final point, I don’t have to “prove” that guns reduce crime, make people safer, or any of that stuff. That’s not how liberty works. One needs to provide overwhelming evidence of the reverse to justify restricting them.

                The great irony here is that the US fought its war of independence because of the colonies being denied their rights as Englishmen (and Scots and Irish, although the Irish mostly came later, but that’s another story). And in the nearly two and a half centuries since, the English (and Scots and Welsh and Irish, both Northern and Republic of Ireland) have meekly given away those very rights to the point that most of them don’t even understand the concept of “rights”, thinking it’s something they have to go begging their lords and masters in government for, like Oliver Twist asking for a second bowl of mush.

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  8. Out of interest, you refer to mass shootings in other parts of the world, and yes, ending them is difficult, but France, Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan… among others… have very few mass shootings, especially compared to the USA. In fact, the USA’s homicide rate with guns alone is higher than the homicide rates of the UK and Japan (with any form of weaponry) combined. Mass shootings in the UK are a virtual unknown and gun violence in Japan is virtually unheard of. The choice is not between ‘all or nothing’.

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