In Response to Your Queries About Gun Violence…

We’ve gotten a lot of requests to comment on the massacre in Newtown, Ct., especially regarding the issue of guns. I haven’t done so because I don’t feel I have anything meaningful to contribute at this time, especially to the victims’ families, except for my deepest sympathy.

I will point to some things we’ve already written on the topic: Chapter 4 of Freakonomics, pp. 130-133; a quorum on how to reduce gun deaths; and a Q&A with the photographer-author of Armed America. And we are starting to produce a podcast about gun violence, to be released sometime in the spring.

Wishing everyone a more peaceful holiday season than the tragic events in recent months have prepared us for…

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  1. Andreas Moser says:

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    • Badgergreg says:

      That response is typical of liberal sarcasm. To have a discussion, one has to engage the merits of the subject.

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  2. Eric M. Jones. says:

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    • M w says:

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      • Erik says:

        ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ are moral assessments. When you are speaking of laws you are talking about ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’. Firearm ownership is not a moral issue but a legal one. Your argument is an emotional appeal and has no merit.

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  3. ontologist says:

    I would like to see us tax ammunition sales and use the money to fund mental health programs identifying and helping people at risk for these types of crimes. That addresses the core issue of these shootings – understanding why someone would do this and taking steps to prevent it – while also not affecting the availability of arms to responsible owners. As with any tax, there will be some reduction in demand of ammunition, but placing that burden onto the consumers and manufacturers of ammunition seems to me more palatable and effective than further restrictions on arms, or greater proliferation of arms as a deterrent. The drug war has shown bans do not work to limit availability, and like drug addiction, mental health needs to be de-stigmatized, and addressed proactively instead of through law-and-order.

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    • Nello says:

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      • J says:

        How do you account for lower gun-related crime rates in states that have less gun controls laws? How do you account for the high gun-related crime rate in Mexico- who has banned all guns? How do you account for the fact that this massacre happened in a state with much harder gun laws than most of the states in the USA?

        Is it because of ignorance of real statistics, or passion that you’re right and on the side of “The Rest of the World?”

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      • Ryan says:

        I don’t know anything for certain, but one way to account for each example could be post hoc ergo propter hoc…

        To slightly change the subject, let me float an idea I had. It has been suggested that teachers be armed – with certain qualifiers such as special training, etc. I’m not sure I agree with this solution, but in the case it is pursued why not do the following. Enact a more aggressive GI Bill that makes it easy and appealing for vets to become teachers. Operationally, this is a good mechanism for supplying teachers trained not only in arms, but perhaps some tactics as well. Politically it would seem easy as one could virtually guarantee employment for soldiers coming home.

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    • Thinkitthrough says:

      I don’t see how mental health programs can be funded by a tax on ammunition without increasing stigma. ???? Given the fact that the vast majority of people with serious mental illness are non-violent, it would seem to be grossly unfair to target people with mental illness in general.

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  4. Adriel Michaud says:

    Anyone who’s tried to look up info on this topic has probably found the extraordinary bias and lack of facts present in both sides of the story. It seems as if every position or study of stats is either from a pro-gun source or an anti-gun source and bias is atrocious. I know there were some stats cited in conjunction with the abortion research in the movie/book and I’d love if you could share those stats in a post or podcast. Please keep the distinction or address in some way the non-gun murders and whether those go up or stay the same in relation to gun-related murders. It’s always a nagging suspicion that if people don’t kill each other/themselves with guns, they’ll turn to other methods (with varying degrees of success).

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  5. James says:

    So far, the discussion on this has not done anything to reinforce my (pretty shaky, alas) belief in humanity as an intelligent species. Seems that everyone (or at least, everyone whose voice manages to reach places like Google News) is rushing to blame the tool, rather than the user of the tool. No one seems to want to inquire into why some individuals decide to go out and kill a large number of people, or to reflect on whether, if guns weren’t available, those individuals would not use some other means, such as for instance a few glass bottles of gasoline. It’s also interesting to note how little coverage the nearly-simultaneous knife attack on 22 Chinese school children has gotten.

    Just for myself, I can’t help but wonder if a good part of the cause won’t be found in video games of the first-person-shooter type. If a person spends perhaps 10,000 hours vicariously shooting & blowing up imaginary enemies, would that not tend to bias their reactions to their real-life situations?

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    • A concerned parent says:

      I wish I had more “like” point to give James. While I very rarely post in online chat forums, I feel like I should share a post I wrote on my own Facebook page a few days after the event occurred.

      As a father, I’ve been trying to process the events of Friday. Judging from my Facebook feed, I am not alone. For some reason, this particular incident has torn me up more than other recent tragedies, probably because my own daughter is in the same age range of the child victims. Maybe that shouldn’t make a difference, but it does.

      What follows is some stream-of-conscious thinking, brought about by those events as well as several FB posts that I’ve seen since then. I am sure that none of this is original thought and it is absolutely not meant to offend or call out anyone. Perhaps it is only meant to be therapeutic for me but I feel like it should be shared.

      Earlier today I read a post by one of my friends that contrasted Japan’s extremely tight gun control laws with those of the US, further contrasting Japan’s extremely low count of children killed by guns to a much larger number in the US.

      The point being, of course, that tighter gun control laws are needed here.

      I’ve lived long enough to know that things are not always that simple, and statistical correlations can be drawn where none exist. The post had me asking myself if something else could be at least partially responsible for the apparent disparity, and it called to mind a mission’s trip that my wife and I took to the Philippines several years ago.

      On our way there, we had a layover of a few hours in Nagoya, Japan. Those few hours were one of the highlights of the trip, because I was able to witness a culture that positively stunned me for their efficiency, civility, and selflessness. I cannot help but be struck by the contrast to what I see in the US today: laziness, rudeness, and selfishness.

      We expect others to handle our problems for us – frequently government bodies who can’t even solve their own issues (Cf. fiscal cliff). We delight in incivility, especially in a semi-anonymous online setting (Ex. another FB post from a friend of mine urging tighter gun laws quickly degenerated into one of the most disgusting exchanges I’ve ever seen on FB). And arguably, we have a strong focus on ourselves rather than those around us.

      (That may offend someone. Hopefully you’ll continue to indulge me. And note that I use the word “we”, as I include myself in those failings.)

      Could it be that the reason behind Japan’s low gun-related child death rate has little or nothing to do with their tight gun laws and more to do with their culture of respect for others? That respect, in my opinion, is born out of a sense of loving others more than self. And that cultural trait is something that has steadily eroded in Western society.

      We glorify violence in our media. In our movies. Our video games. And we scream “censorship!” or “government meddling!” when others dare to suggest that children should be protected from such material via ratings systems or other measures.

      Understand that this is coming from someone who grew up with The Terminator, Rambo, James Bond, The Matrix, etc. Not to mention Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, Duke Nukem, Quake, etc. I am not immune. I am not innocent. Heck, I’ve recently enjoyed seeing the entire Marvel universe movies all the way through the Avengers. I am no better. (Full disclosure: my daughter has not seen any of those).

      That’s what our culture has been feeding our children for decades. What do we expect the result to be now? Think about the violence and graphic nature of tv today: NCIS, Bones, CSI. Even their commercials are graphic! We can’t get away from it. And I can tell you from experience that it takes a LOT of purposeful effort to protect my daughter from it.

      We have a saying in my line of work: GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. It is highly unlikely that you will get clean data out of a system if you put dirty data into it. The same is true for human beings: if we saturate ourselves and our culture with violence and retribution, that is what we will endure. We reap what we sow. To expect otherwise is, quite frankly, illogical and irrational.

      This is not a new concept. While many of my FB circle are Christians, some are not but may still respect His teachings. Regardless of your beliefs, I urge all of you to read this: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2018:1-10&version=NLT

      The witnessing of killing and death, even in fictional form, should probably disgust us. Instead, we are mostly numb to it. Those children and adults that survived Newtown will be forever scarred by what they’ve seen. As will those in law enforcement that have to document the crime scene (let’s not forget to pray for them, too)! Exposure to those kinds of images and themes should be a rare event, not commonplace and readily available, especially to children.

      Let’s hug our kids more.

      Let’s hug each other more.

      Let’s be civil to one another instead of demonizing those who do not look, feel, or believe as we do.

      Let’s choose empathy over enmity.

      Let’s tell the media that we want entertainment that is uplifting by voting with our wallets.

      Let’s tell our leaders that we expect them to model civility and integrity for us and our children.

      Let’s look in the mirror and ask: “how can I make a difference”?

      Let’s love as Jesus calls us to love.

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      • James says:

        Thanks for the kind words. I would, however, question your idea that Japan doesn’t have mass killings because it’s a more respectful society, because the sad fact is that it does have mass killings. Of course, since guns are tightly regulated, the killers use other tools to do their work, such as knives and nerve gas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osaka_school_massacre

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      • Ed says:

        For Goodness sake! 22 Chinese children were WOUNDED – not killed. Can’t you see? If the assailant had a Bushmaster of course it’s more likely there would have been fatalities and more news coverage.

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      • Eric M. Jones. says:

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      • RGJ says:

        Naturally, everyone would hope for a more compassionate and peaceful and loving society.

        The Communist Chinese school slashings are extremely relevant here, as their society is an extreme example of the sort of Clockwork Orange thought-controlled, censored society that some seem to think is the answer to American society. Yet a nut still crept out into a school, slashing off ears and fingers. It seems quite the fad in Communist China to cut up and murder kids with knives and meat cleavers over the past 24 months: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_attacks_in_China_(2010%E2%80%932012)

        And who knows how many others are never reported. Communist Chinese officials immediate reaction to events like this is to censor the news citing fear of “copycats”. The 2010 Hebai massacre, when 17 people were killed by a man wielding a semi-automatic…..tractor….was largely erased from the internet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebei_tractor_rampage

        So, no, social nannyism even in the extreme, and forcing Mel Gibson to stand in front of a tank in the National Mall to produce his movies, isn’t the answer.

        And now Communist China has passed a law….no, not banning meat cleavers and knives and boxcutters and tractors….mandating armed security at all schools by this year.

        So China is extremely relevant. The death count in these school cases is a false trail to the answer to the problem. If the Columbine bombs had went off and killed hundreds, or if the Columbine deputy sherriff had been wearing his glasses and killed Klebold outside the school when he shot at him, or someone had been in place to overpower the scrawny little geek last Friday in the school office before his execution spree, we’d be back to the real problem — what can be done to stop people getting into schools with weapons?

        There are 300,011,000 people in the United States. Immigrants from other cultures. People with brain injuries. People with genetic mental conditions. People on powerful illegal drugs. People on powerful prescription drugs.

        It only takes one to create last Friday. Hug your kids, hug them some more, pray to jesus, whatever, all good. Then protect our kids, because it takes just 1 nut in 300 million possibilities.

        Protect our schools. It should be as least as difficult to gain access to a school as it is to a football game or an airplane.

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      • Otto says:

        Japan’s respectful and ordered society is a consequence of its hundred and years of civil wars and feudal lords. I would speculate it was not a result of a more “loving” society. Rather, a society that was already accustomed to a very harsh rule of law, where those that rebelled we quickly removed.

        I can understand bigotry, religion, ethnic cleansing, etc. Reprehensible, but it still makes sense. Newtown tears that all up. It attacked the most innocent part of our society. That psychopath killed children we are all responsible to protect and nurture.

        However, the knee jerk reaction to repeal the 2nd Amendment or make more laws does not make sense. I want to know what prompted Newtown, Aurora, and other similar tragedy’s to specifically avoid them, rather than throw out an obligatory law that will most likely not solve anything.

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  6. Brett says:

    Just replace the word “guns” with the word “drugs” and see how ridiculous the solution suddenly sounds. We are going to task the government to control “drugs” and who has them and how they used them in this country. The Federal government will interdict all the illegal “drugs” in this country and control what circumstances people have access to them.

    Brilliant solution right? Because the government has been attempting to do exactly that for almost 50 years in this country and they have miserably failed. You can find and purchase drugs in virtually every high school and community in America including most likely Newton, Connecticut. Why do people suddenly have such incredible faith that the government will control guns any better? What basis do they use to make such an assertion? It is a serious question.

    Principles always win. A universal principle is that what people want, they get, no matter how many words are written down on pieces of paper by legislators and we call them laws. If there is a demand for something there will be a supply. If we want to reduce violence with guns then the emphasis should be on the behavior, the demand, not the guns, the supply. That is the only solution that will work.

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    • Ooo says:

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      • Brett says:

        Drug use may have gone down but is it due to interdiction efforts by the government? Not likely. I would be interested to see your finding where the ban assault weapons ( a very misguided term since no real assault weapons are legally available in the US without a federal permit) caused (not in correlation with) a decrease in murder rates. Every study I’ve seen, and most are done by people who do not like guns, concluded it had no effect at all on crime, murder, or mass murder

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    • Ed says:

      How then to explain the vast majority of other countries where gun ownership is tightly controlled? Come to London – you might be able to find some dope after a few days. Trying finding an automatic rifle.

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      • Brett says:

        Well I’ve been to London many times and I imagine, although I’ve not done it, one can find dope in a few hours, not days. And one cannot readily find an automatic rifle anywhere in the US either, as such are strictly controlled and you need a federal permit, which takes months to obtain, to purchase and own one. Has this legal permit process resulted in the reduction in gun violence in the US? I would argue no, as the bad people in the US who use automatic weapons in crimes have them anyway and can get them no matter what laws are passed.

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    • Wil Random says:

      Ooo — Assault gun ban had no discernible effect on mass shootings and casualties. See: http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b287/crosby138/ShootingsinUSSince1976.jpg

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      • djconnel says:

        That’s an interesting plot, but I disagree with your conclusion. Consider the 8 years prior to the institution of the gun ban (’86-’93) : there’s a clear upward trend, with the four most violent (most incidents) of these eight years being the final four, ’90-’93. Now compare ’90-’93 to ’94-’97: the 3 most violent years occur in ’90-’93, and 4th is a virtual tie.

        So this appears to me a long-term positive trend, with the gun band yielding a negative impulse in the trend.

        The effect of the end of the gun ban is less clear. You could argue that the Iraq war contributed to a culture of violence which spiked incidents earlier, and following this spike there was an upward trend emerging coincident with the gun ban lifting. But this is a bit Rorshach.

        To gain more insight you need to really look at broader gun incident statistics, preferably broken out by gun type, although the Congress has prohibited ATF from releasing these statistics (NRA $$$).

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  7. Ed says:

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    • Brett says:

      First, there is no legal prevalence of automatic weapons in the US. Such are strictly controlled by federal permit. The people who have them and use them are…criminals! They do not obey the law in the first place so why would laws passed to try and control guns effect them in the slightest?

      The simple comparing of murders by guns in one society with another society, barely tells one much of anything. Sweden for example, which had roughly 21 murders by gun at the latest count, is a nation of around 9 million people. About the size of a big city in the US. It is also a homogeneous society. Most people there are of the same ethnic and economic background. Does it also have a large drug related violent culture? No it does not. Does it have a massive influx of illegal immigrants with a host of crime and societal problems associated with that? No, it does not.

      It is difficult to get the proper breakdown in numbers, or even the proper number for that matter when it comes to murder by gun in the US. The CDC says the overall number is around 11,000, the FBI says its around 8500. Both agree the number is decreasing. Sounds awful to sure but can the numbers tell us something more? It is hard to quantify but most reports I read say around 75% of those murders are deaths directly related to drugs, gangs and therefore criminal behavior. So if we just split the difference in the murder estimates and say there are 10,000 murders in the US by gun, that leaves around 2500 murders that are not criminal behavior related. Meaning the murder was not committed in connection with another crime, ie, robbery drug deals and so forth. This number would indicate that the US has a much bigger problem with drugs and crime associated with them than just the weapons.

      The US is a nation of 310 million people. In the conversation about guns, if it can be called that, this elephant in the living room is almost always ignored. Sweden’s murders would have to increased by a multiple of 30, to 630 to correlate with just the size of the US alone. And the US is anything but a homogeneous society. Throw in large ethnic minorities, generational poverty, lack of cohesive family units in these enclaves and guess what? Any society will have huge increases in murder rates.

      If the 2500 number can be believed, and I admit is a rough estimate, the actual number is very hard to deduce, well in a sample of 310 million ( again an estimate, I don’t think anyone really knows how big the US is) that number is a statistical anomaly. The overwhelming majority of neighborhoods, towns and cities in the US are frankly quite safe, even with all those nasty guns out there. Want to stay safe in the US? Don’t get involved in the drug culture at any level. Stay out of the large ethnic ghettos of crime and poverty and the chance of you being shot is .00000806%

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    • James says:

      Is gun control really effective in preventing mass killings? (Or even individual ones.) I don’t think so. Britian, Germany, Japan, Norway, and other countries with tight gun control laws all have notable examples of mass killings, often using methods other than guns.

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      • Ed says:

        James
        Use statistics, not anecdotes. My grandfather smoked cigarettes all his life and lived to 84. Doesn’t make them safe. For the record:
        USA 10.2 89
        Norway 1.8 31
        UK 0.3 6
        Germany 1.1 30
        The first figure is the firearm related deaths per 100,000 persons, the second figure is firearm ownership. If you look at all the other OECD countries, they follow the same pattern and correlation. Now, are you seriously telling me that restrictions on gun ownership do not affect gun related deaths?

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      • James says:

        “Now, are you seriously telling me that restrictions on gun ownership do not affect gun related deaths?”

        No, what I am telling you is that if people have the desire to commit mass killings, and guns are not available, then they will use some other method of killing. Therefore your quoting of gun death numbers (even if accurate* – cite your sources, state the periods covered, &c) is just another case of “lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

        Just for a reality check, here’s a list of a few notable mass murders (yeah, I know, they’re anecdotes) in my life, all done without guns:

        9/11 – 2977 victims, box cutters and aircraft.
        Jonestown Massacre – 909 victims, cyanide.
        EgyptAir Flight 990 – 215 victims, aircraft.
        Daegu (S. Korea) subway fire – 198 victims, flammable liquid.
        Madrid railway bombing – 191 victims, stolen/diverted mining explosives.
        Oklahoma City Federal building – 168 victims, fertilizer bomb.
        London subway bombing – 52 victims, improvised explosives.

        So it seems pretty obvious that guns aren’t needed to kill large numbers of people, if one is so inclined. Indeed, by their nature as aimed weapons, guns aren’t even all that efficient a tool for mass killings by one or a few people.

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      • tmeier says:

        “Now, are you seriously telling me that restrictions on gun ownership do not affect gun related deaths?”

        ‘Firearm related death’? So you are including suicide and justifiable homicide as well as accident to inflate the statistics?

        I’ll give you an interesting one, average European murder rate in the 18th century 3.3 per 100,000, 19th century 2.6, 20th 1.4. average American (U.S.) homicide rates, 23, 13 and 7 respectively. In other words the U.S. has always had a higher homicide rate than Europe even before any sort of gun restriction in either place and the ratio hasn’t changed much.

        Here is something else to think about, the murder rate for U.S. citizens of European ancestry is only slightly higher than the European murder rate. From this it would seem reasonable at least to investigate the notion that murder rates are largely a cultural phenomenon.

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      • Ed says:

        James

        You neglected to mention the use of chainsaws, kitchen spatulas and nail-guns – all of which I found examples on the internet of being used to commit murder. Unfortunately, none of this is relevant.

        The point about guns is that if you’re a mentally unbalanced person who gets out of bed one day brimming with psychotic anger and you have easy access to a semi-automatic, the odds of you being able to go out and kill a lot of people, are far greater than if you wake up and you just have a kitchen knife, or you have to try and build some kind of improvised explosive device. Of course, there are people who do just that, it’s just less likely to be deadly than our gun-man. Your list of terrorist events is irrelevant – for our countries (UK, US), they’re black swan events that whilst ghastly, don’t tell you much about the long-term trends in homicide rates, and the connection with gun ownership versus other weapons.

        All my data’s on wikipedia, which carries the usual caveat, but the homicide rate in Spain and the UK is about a quarter of the US rate. Of course, I can’t split that between crackpot spree killers and say drug-dealers killing each other, but I’m pretty sure my argument holds up that when guns aren’t easily accessible, crackpots just aren’t as able and ready to kill a lot of people in a spree.

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      • tmeier says:

        “The point about guns…”

        But the point isn’t about guns is it, it’s about preventable death and injury, presumably particularly of innocent persons. If guns prevent as many extra innocent deaths as they cause they are a net benefit.
        Then there is the question of prevented rapes and assaults. Laws based on reason need to examine these questions as well as other laws which might save innocent lives.

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      • James says:

        Ed:

        “The point about guns is that if you’re a mentally unbalanced person who gets out of bed one day brimming with psychotic anger…”

        But the point about mass killings (and indeed, most killings) is that they don’t seem to be carried out by people who get out of bed one day, decide on a whim to kill a lot of people, and grab the nearest gun to do it with. I admit I don’t know of any actual statistics on this, but most accounts I’ve read suggest that the attacks are carefully planned, often over long periods, weapons are gathered, etc.

        I’m not even sure that most such killers fit into conventional notions of mental illness. They’re apparently able to appreciate what they do, and make rational plans to attain their goals. Sure, to most of us that goal seems insane, but so does e.g. caring about the “Immaculate Reception” seem insane to me.

        So, given that some individuals have this desire, and that with a bit of rational planning, which most of them display, it is easier to kill more people with methods other than guns, it would seem that – in true Freakonomics fashion – we should reduce the number of deaths by keeping guns available.

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    • J1 says:

      If the law permitted proactively addressing the type of mental health issues that cause violent behavior, we could probably pay for the programs you recommend with the reduction in incarceration costs alone. Unfortunately it’s very, very difficult to do the intervention you describe (which is a good idea by the way) until something bad has happened (by all accounts Lanza’s mother was evidently in the process of trying to do so). We don’t need gun control; we need violent, dangerous lunatic control. We used to do that with mental health intervention; now we do it with prison.

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      • J1 says:

        No idea why the above posted as a reply to Ed – it was meant as a response to Ontologist. Sorry.

        For Ed:

        The debate over guns begins with constitutional rights. Most – maybe all – countries in Europe lack a constitutional right for the public to own guns. Also, there’s simply a different philosophy here. I’ve seen articles about homeowners in the UK being put in jail for attacking burglars. By contrast, if I catch a burglar in my home, I can legally kill them without warning or attempt to retreat, and cannot be prosecuted or sued for doing so (though the incident would go to a grand jury, and God help you if you knew the burglar).

        Next, gun control probably wouldn’t have the effect here that it has there. European countries generally don’t have anywhere near the exposure to the wholesale level of the illicit drug industry that the United States has. Note that people in that field tend to be quite violent, they have absolutely no difficulty getting guns regardless of the law, and that a large portion of the US murder rate involves criminals killing other criminals.

        Finally, while I agree it’s self-evident easy gun availability makes it easier to commit mass killings, an armed populace makes it self evidently easier to stop them. You don’t hear about that because it’s tough for something that didn’t happen to make the news. In the meantime, most mass gun killings take place in locations that explicitly prohibit the legal carry of guns.

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    • Buckeye Jim says:

      to ed,
      Sorry but we are proud to be a bit more independant and free than the rest of the world.
      Global standards? We set the standard July 4th 1776 the rest of the folks have slipped we say.

      Now to be realistic about gun control, there are about 200 millions guns privately owned here in the states.
      40% have benn bought and sold though person to person sales (NO records required).
      How in the world could we do what other countrys have done? I am for being stored properly in the home or in the case of a mentaly deficent person NO guns in the home.
      Here is a example of why we don’t wantguns rounded up http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/Children–184459571.html

      Back in the 98-99 and 99-00 school years I was a substitute high school teacher AND a part time police officer. there were about 5 subs that were also part time or full time officers. the school put in thier policy that school employees that had current police training were to Carry Conceled wepons (firearms) while at the school. It worked well for us. No one ever got shot.
      The students knew good and well the subs were cops. (the kids behaved well) They didn’t know we were armed. Some of The unarmed teachers didn’t like it too well when they found out.
      I will say this, regular teachers are too distraced being teachers to be a good deterant to such Deviant behavior.

      on 09-11-01 I was working(in my sheriff deputy uniform) as a after school security guard during a after school program.
      I got there just as the regular school day was letting out, and was told the after school program was canceled and that i could just go home. I told them I would stay till every child was picked up.

      I belive the mass shootings are mainly caused by mental health issues. however a guard at every school is a good idea.
      Call em a “school marshall” named after the airlines sky marshalls.

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      • Ed says:

        Jim
        I respect that many, perhaps the majority, of Americans feel more safe and more free by having ready access to firearms. It’s not for me, but each to his own, so to speak.

        And I also respect the argument that in a nation that has 5 times the level of gun ownership of the average for the rest of the OECD countries, and twice the ownership of the next most gun-friendly country (Finland), attempting strict gun control is doomed to fail.

        What I struggle with is the pretence that when guns proliferate to the extent they do in the US, crackpots won’t pick them up and use them to kill innocents. The pretence being if the guns weren’t so readily available, those nutters would be able to cause the same damage with knives and other weapons?! The fact that US gun homicides rates are 5.8 times the average for the rest of the OECD countries, is hardly a coincidence.

        After taking part in this blog debate, I’ve reached a conclusion that for the US, the right to bear arms has become the obligation to bear arms (in schools, hospitals, homes, etc). As I said, it’s not for me but each to his own.

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      • RGJ says:

        Great post. If Macy’s can employ off duty and retired law enforcement officials to protect their costume jewelry, surely we can employ them to safeguard our kids.

        The price in a sense of security for our youngest children is worth it in and of itself.

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  8. RGJ says:

    I don’t envision an armed guard standing at the door staring down 10 year olds, although I did read a story about a Marine volunteering to stand at a school door this past week and how the children and parents were comforted by it. What I envision, perhaps, is a few faculty or adminstration people being trained, and having secured weapons at hand, perhaps tasers, pepper spray, or a biometric gun. Maybe rubber bullets. Whatever. Someone who runs toward trouble rather than away. And that person can receive an extra stipend, as many sports coaches do, for instance. If there is nobody adequate you deal with that in your hiring or hire outside. It should be at least as hard to get any weapons into a school as it is onto an airplane, into a courthouse, or into any tech corporation.

    Let’s not blame the nurse, but she points up the need for someone in the school who won’t lock themselves in a closet for fours hours while some sicko calmly executes seven year old kids one at a time. In the words of Neil Young “an ambulance can only go so fast….” It would have been ironic if all the hundreds of kids there died of small .223 bullet wounds, some simply bleeding out, while the one person definitely trained for medical intervention and in possession of medical equipment survived.

    The cops now feel that the motive for the Sandy Hook shooting was that the mother was about to institutionalize the kid, whose behavior had been very erratic for a long time, blamed for the divorce, his removal from school, and the estrangement from his brother. As Chris Rock wondered, “Whatever happened to crazy?” As soon as you put a label on mental illness, Aspergers, autism, bio-polar, whatever, the families of those so diagnosed and their (dependent) therapists rush to scream “politically incorrect”!

    The other issue is that students are lumped into mental illness buckets that may or may not be a certain condition, churning and changing through growth and puberty, may only be borderline that condition, may be in combination with other conditions. They are then pumped full of a cocktail of meds.

    Columbine and Sandy Hook:

    – At Columbine, Dylan Klebold, the dominant of the two students, was seeing a pychiatrist and had confesed of anger, depression and suicidal thoughts. He had first been put on Zoloft, then been put on Luxor. In 2001, two years later, the FDA subsequently added a “black box warning label” their strongest move short of removal of a drug from the market. The warning to Luxor stated that suicidal and violent actions and thoughts are a possible/common side effect.

    The warning signs were screaming:

    From the most impeachable source on the internet, Wikipedia:

    ———————————-

    (re: a threat blog by Harris) Klebold gave the web address to Brooks Brown, a former friend of Harris. Brown’s mother had filed numerous complaints with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office concerning Harris, as she thought he was dangerous. The website contained numerous death threats directed against Brown: Klebold knew that if Brooks accessed the address, he would discover the content and inform his parents, and likely the authorities would be notified. After Brown’s parents viewed the site, they contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The investigator Michael Guerra was told about the website.[4] When he accessed it, Guerra discovered numerous violent threats directed against the students and teachers of Columbine High School. Other material included blurbs which Harris had written about his general hatred of society, and his desire to kill those who annoyed him. Harris had noted on his site that he had made pipe bombs. In addition, he mentioned a gun count and compiled a hit list of individuals (he did not post any plan on how he intended to attack targets).[5] As Harris had posted on his website that he possessed explosives, Guerra wrote a draft affidavit, requesting a search warrant of the Harris household. He never filed it.
    ———————————-

    The Columine kids didn’t envision shooting people. they put two 20 lbs propane boms in the cafeteria and waited outside. They malfunctioned. They had made over 100 bombs and brought them to the school, pipebombs and Molotov cocktails and seven knives. It is a miracle only 12 people were killed and not hundreds.

    And notice I haven’t even mentioned the “Trenchcoat Mafia”….

    THESE SCHOOL MURDERS ARE A MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE, NOT A GUN ISSUE.

    (…..and I treasure my “hidden due to negative comments” so bring it. I always read those first from others. I’m guessing Freakonmics would have died from unpopularity on an economst’s site in its infancy.)

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    • J Beekman says:

      The killer kids use legal psychotropic drugs with dangerous side effects of psychosis.

      REJECTION, RAGE, REVENGE, RAMPAGE

      The fact that the Trenchcoat Mafia was able to plant bombs in a school undetected is a scary
      reality of the comotose faculty and more so that the kids parents were well aware of the club
      and did not stop it.

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