Some Reflections On The Recent Events In Newton CT

December 17th, 2012
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This blog is obviously primarily about science, science reporting, skepticism and related topics.  However, being a resident of the southeastern portion of Connecticut, it would be impossible to continue on without mentioning the tragic shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown.   Connecticut is a small state to begin with, and Newtown, as it happens is only about twenty minutes drive from my home.  I’ve been to and passed through Newtown many times and I know several people who live in the town.

I did not know any of the victims, but in the past few days I have come to discover just how close I am to this tragedy.  The manager of my congressional campaign has worked for the state as a child advocate.   During a divorce and custody dispute, he was appointed to represent the interests of a young girl.  As is often the case, he became well acquainted with her and her family.  She was one of the victims who was killed on Friday.   My former nextdoor neighbors, who are also good friends of my parents, have a granddaughter in kindergarden at the school where the shooting occurred.  As it turns out, she was absent the day it happened, but no doubt the trauma of losing friends will be difficult for her and the family to deal with.  I have other acquaintances who have children who attend the school or who have lost friends or neighbors.  At my place of work, which, amongst other things, sells flowers, a number of orders were placed for sympathy arrangements for the families of the dead.

While there have been other shootings and tragic events, and indeed, human tragedies happen every day, nothing of this scope has hit quite so close to home and affected so many in my life before.

Of course, there is really no way to respond to such an event that will ever do much to change things.  None the less, some of the responses in the wake of the tragic events have been extremely disheartening.

It is altogether appropriate that after such a tragic event, he circumstances will be investigated and various measures will be proposed and considered to prevent this from reoccurring.   However, investigations take time and so does considering and drafting the legislation that might help reduce the likelihood of this tragedy.   Right now, the most important consideration should be addressing the pain of those who have lost loved ones, honoring the memory of the dead and rebuilding the shattered lives of so many in the community.

Unfortunately, predictably, the first response of many has been to seize this as an opertunity for political gain.  For gun-control advocates, this is an excellent chance to gain some media attention and exploit the shock and grief of a nation for publicity.   Others, of course, have seized upon this to call for greater provisions for concealed-carry laws, arguing that the only way to deter this is to allow citizens to defend themselves when attacks occur.  Some have argued to arm all teachers with handguns, others have said we need greater monitoring of community threats or improved mental health care.  A variety of media whores, such as Michael Moore, have patted themselves on the back for predicting this kind of tragedy with such smugness it’s amazing they manage to keep a straight face.

I say shame on all of them.   I am purposely not taking a position on these issues, because I find that to be in poor taste.  All of the proposals and sides should be considered, and there is certainly nothing wrong with having some debates about whether gun control is effective, whether arming the public will actually make a difference and whether changes in policy are warranted.   However, the faces of the children who died on that terrible day should not be placed on placards or protest signs until they have at least been buried for a few days.  If nothing else, it should be noted that the information that is being used to justify many of these political points is not even confirmed.   We’ve been told that the shooter, Adam Lanza, acted alone, used his mother’s firearms and had a history of mental and emotional problems.  However, those are not confirmed facts, they are just the available information the media has been providing.

If only out of basic human descency, those who seek to advance their political agenda should really wait until at least the media circus has died down and the grass has begun to grow on the graves of the dead before latching onto this event.

On a more positive note, I’ve been heartened to see that the press has handled this incident about as well as can be expected.   There are many reporters, satellite trucks and TV cameras in the area.  That is a given, and is the result of a perfectly reasonable desire of the world and the country to be informed about this tragedy.  However, they have managed to avoid hounding the families of the victims (at least for the most part) and only interviewing those who came forward looking to speak.   Most (but not all) media reports have been reasonably well presented.  Although speculation about the things like the number of victims was presented, it was generally provided with explicit disclaimers that the information was not fully confirmed.  It has, for the most part, been accurate.  The worst piece of inaccurate information thus far has been the brief miss-identification of the shooter as Ryan Lanza, the brother of Adam Lanza.  This appears to be based on an ID that police found on the shooter.

That said, the press has not been perfect either.  There has been quite a bit of banter and speculation that the shooter was autistic.  This has not been confirmed, and could be used to imply that autistic persons are prone to violence, which is simply not the case.

I had mixed feelings about the visit of President Obama.  On one hand, it is appropriate for the leader of a country to offer condolences and show that the sense of loss is national and worthy of his time.  However, a presidential visit can easily provoke an even larger media circus and politicize the event further.   Thankfully, and to his credit, the president made only a brief visit and did not use it as an opertunity to make stump speeches or advance an agenda.  His actions were not overtly political and were very tactful.

The Connecticut State Police, Medical Examiner and the local city governments also deserve to be noted for their professional handling of the situation.   Police have provided all the information they can, while being as thorough as possible and assuring it is accurate.   Local towns have been quick to offer their school buildings for the use of Newtown students displaced and there has been no bickering over things like compensation.

Finally, there is one thing that I find especially unsettling about the process of grieving and consoling, as it exists in American society.  Without exception, the centers where the community has gathered for support and mourning have been religious institutions, churches or synagogs, and the support and reassurances given are, almost always, based on the presumption that those lost are in a better place or that their death was part of some greater plan by a benevolent god.

Of course, those who believe should be given every opertunity to mourn their losses in the traditions of their faith, and the validity of those beliefs should not be questioned, at least not at a time like this.  Religion certainly does offer comfort and a way of dealing with loss to many, and ministers, priests and rabbis can bring great comfort to those experiencing loss.  Those who believe that their loved ones live on in the afterlife have every right to that opinion and, if it allows them to move forward with their lives, then nobody should take that away from them.

However, it is worth considering that not everyone believes in such things, and for those of us who do not, hearing a constant bombardment of messages of how the dead are in a better place rings especially empty and does not help and only serves to alienate them from a community which bases their mourning on such beliefs.   When I have experienced loss, I have found it especially painful to be told, repeatedly, by well meaning persons that “they are in a better place” or “you will see them again.”   I believed this was not true and it only drove home how tragic the situation was.  Moreover, it set me apart from the others and made me want to yell back at them “NO, THEY ARE NOT,” but, of course, I bit my lip and pretended to agree with them.

I therefore suggest that, when consoling those experiencing loss, unless you are well aware of their beliefs or are responding to their religious statements, it is better to simply use a neutral, secular statement of condolences.   Simply saying “he will be missed,” or “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “If there is anything I can do to help you through this hard time” is a prefectly acceptable way of offering support to someone, regardless of their beliefs and without presuming to impose your religion on them without knowledge of their own feelings.

Furthermore, it should really become more acceptable to offer memorial gatherings and support to those who have lost without invoking religion in every case.  The lack of non-religious support for loss can make it extremely difficult on those who do not share those beleifs.

Worst of  all, stigmatizing and outright hatred of those who reject religion seems to know no bounds.  Even in times of loss and pain, simply aknowledging that you are a non-believer may well result in a cold shoulder and a back-handed insult.


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This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 7:12 pm and is filed under Culture, Events, media, Misc, personal, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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75 Responses to “Some Reflections On The Recent Events In Newton CT”

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  1. 1
    BMS Says:

    When I have experienced loss, I have found it especially painful to be told, repeatedly, by well meaning persons that “they are in a better place” or “you will see them again.”

    Steve – Do you really think that they were saying that for you? Or is it more probable that they were saying that for their own piece of mind?

    If you are so sure that you are right and they are wrong, then what harm does it do to humor them to make the grieving process easier for them? Who do you want to be the bigger person? Times such as this are the very worst times to start evangelizing your secularism.

    If you got a cold shoulder, then you probably deserved it. Most people in this world are not ready for a story line that reads: and then you die and that’s it. They need the small comforts that the possibility of something after death allows.

    If you piss on their parade, why do you expect them to be overly friendly with you?


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  2. 2
    drbuzz0 Says:

            BMS said:

    Steve – Do you really think that they were saying that for you? Or is it more probable that they were saying that for their own piece of mind?

    Irrelevant. You don’t say things to people grieving that cause them pain. In any case, this is **ALWAYS** what is said when someone dies. This is even by third parties who were not as connected to the person who as me.

            BMS said:

    If you are so sure that you are right and they are wrong, then what harm does it do to humor them to make the grieving process easier for them? Who do you want to be the bigger person? Times such as this are the very worst times to start evangelizing your secularism.

    They can have their beliefs and I would not be disrespectful of them. They should not do the same to others.

    I’m not saying this for myself. There are doubtless non-believers in Newtown who are hurting and there’s really no place for them to go, now is there?

            BMS said:

    If you got a cold shoulder, then you probably deserved it. Most people in this world are not ready for a story line that reads: and then you die and that’s it. They need the small comforts that the possibility of something after death allows.

    If you piss on their parade, why do you expect them to be overly friendly with you?

    Oh yeah, I totally deserved it, because, why? Because I did not piss on their parade?

    I assume you are not an atheist, which is fine. When someone dies, I go to the wake, just like everyone else, and I pay my respects, because it makes the family feel better to know the person’s memory means enough that I would go. I respect the customs of the ceremony. I even kneel and that sort of thing, because it’s expected and it’s no place to make it an issue.

    However, nobody, not me nor anyone else, when they lose someone, deserves to have their beliefs insulted repeatedly and made to feel an outsider.

    How do you respond to “Now, Stephen, I know you say you don’t believe in religion, but you know your grandfather was a good man, and you will see him again. You should go to church more so your grandfather knows you care.”

    “Well, don’t feel bad that your dog died, Steve. No matter what you say, I know that in your heart you know god is good and just and he is keeping your dog safe and happy in heaven waiting for you.”

    You know what that is? That’s cruel and NOBODY deserves that when in a time of pain and loss.

    Of course I respect other people’s traditions and customs, but most religious people think nothing of presuming everyone else is also a believer and rubbing it into them if they are not.

    You think I *like* the fact that there’s nothing after death? (and as far as I am concerned, it’s a fact, although I admit I can’t know one way or the other, it’s my best assumption). I don’t. It sucks. I’d prefer some kind of justice and everlasting paradise.


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  3. 3
    BMS Says:

    Steve – Please don’t assume anything about me. I’m mostly playing devil’s advocate. It seems to me that assumptions about other people is what got you into this mess to begin with.

    If a couple of words by well-meaning individuals is enough to shake your assertions or make you uncomfortable (if you were religious I would use the words “shake your beliefs”), then perhaps you’re not as strong of an atheist as you would like to pretend to be.

    If you find this topic uncomfortable, then I apologize for dragging it out. It’s your blog, after all.


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  4. 4
    DV82XL Says:

    I am not an American, so it is not my place to comment on what laws are or are not enacted in that country, however I can make the observation that in any active democracy the impetus that drives any public demand for legislation always is the result of conditions real or perceived on the ground. In that regard it is natural that those calling for stricter controls on firearms will leverage this situation to promote their views, the same way those that want stricter controls on off-shore drilling used the Gulf oil-spill to leverage theirs. This is how politics is done when public opinion is being courted. I find it somewhat unfair that those against gun-control would criticize their opponents for doing this, when the call to ‘morn the dead and deal with this latter’ is in fact a clear attempt at political spin control itself!

    As I said, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but even i can see the pot is calling the kettle black in this debate.


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  5. 5
    Eric Says:

    Apparently, saying “it should be harder to murder a class full of children” counts as a political statement these days.


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  6. 6
    drbuzz0 Says:

            BMS said:

    Steve – Please don’t assume anything about me. I’m mostly playing devil’s advocate. It seems to me that assumptions about other people is what got you into this mess to begin with.

    If a couple of words by well-meaning individuals is enough to shake your assertions or make you uncomfortable (if you were religious I would use the words “shake your beliefs”), then perhaps you’re not as strong of an atheist as you would like to pretend to be.

    If you find this topic uncomfortable, then I apologize for dragging it out. It’s your blog, after all.

    Well, it seems a valid assumption given that you start off with a pretty sharp-toothed attack about how I must deserve whatever I get at a time of loss because I do not believe in an afterlife.

    I am making the point that, given a time of grief, I will go out of my way to not impose my beliefs (or lack thereof) on others, less it make it harder for them. If they wish to believe someone is in heaven, I surely would not attack the foundation of that.

    Similarly, I think that others should not use loss to try to push their religion on others. Losing a loved one is a time of very extreme emotional turmoil and a person can be understandably sensitive to how others respond.

    If you go up to someone, who you do not know the background of and say “I’m sorry he died, but we both know he is in heaven now and let us pray for his soul.” then you are NOT doing the right thing, because you are saying something that might or might not make them feel better. Sure, they might find comfort in that, but they just as well might feel like they need to bite their lip and not let it show that it’s bull****.

    I’d suggest that the right thing to do in such a circumstance is just say “I’m sorry for your loss.” That’s a neutral message. It will not make anyone, religious or otherwise feel worse.


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  7. 7
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I find it somewhat unfair that those against gun-control would criticize their opponents for doing this, when the call to ‘morn the dead and deal with this latter’ is in fact a clear attempt at political spin control itself!

    I see your point, but in this case, I just plain will not take sides with those for or against gun control. And I should add that this has been seized on by the pro-gun lobby as well. They have brought up the fact that there were cases where a shooting spree was stopped by a civilian with a concealed weapon. Their argument is that if you can’t have a concealed weapon in a school, it’s open season for anyone who wants to shoot one up, but if you can then they will be less likely to since they know a single teacher with a concealed gun will stop them.

    The argument is often made that gun control cannot stop this because criminals will still obtain guns, but without lawful weapons it will be more difficult to avert a massacre.

    I take issue with jumping to any conclusions on how this could be avoided. I want to stress that we still do not have an official and verified report of where he got the guns and ammo and how he got into the school. The current reports are that they belonged to his mother and he just took them from the home along with ammo and used the weapon to bust through the lock at the school. But that is only what is being reported and it won’t be known 100% until the investigation is concluded.


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  8. 8
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Eric said:

    Apparently, saying “it should be harder to murder a class full of children” counts as a political statement these days.

    Every public statement by a politician or a political group is political. Every one of them.

    But really, it’s never “it should be harder to murder a class full of children” It’s always it should be harder to murder a class full of children…. and my campaign and my political party will do just that, so come out and support us, donate money to us and help pass my legislation, which is the only way we will ever stop this.”


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  9. 9
    Jason C Says:

    At the many emotionally tasking moments of life – death, divorce, substance abuse, etc. – churches are there for people, opening their doors to people. Though I’m not a believer myself either, I have to admit that churches perform important community functions. They offer a place for moral solidarity, organize efforts to help the less fortunate, offer spaces for council groups, give people an opportunity to socialize etc. They have good music. Many of these functions can be done outside of a church, but no so cohesively as churches do.

    It’s not so much that people are set out to be nasty to outsiders from their church as their minds are highjacked to respond certain ways when confronting those “outsiders”. People often behave in a similar pre-programmed manners when it comes to other social circles like their favorite football team, their ethnic group, their hometown, what political party they belong to and the list goes on.

    Atheists/ agnostics/ non-believers/ humanists don’t have tax free facilities they can gather to, their traditions and history aren’t fully developed or may never be, most of them don’t all believe the same things, and they don’t sing songs together (that I know of). So it seems like they/we have a problem from the start in being identified as a recognizable group. They have a few recognizable causes like the separation of church and state, but nothing that garners much sympathy for any inability to lead a life like everyone else. Discreet or overt discrimination from religious folks doesn’t carry the same weight as a gay person who can’t marry the love of their life.

    At this point it’s almost like a don’t ask/don’t tell policy for atheists when mixing with religious people.


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  10. 10
    Shafe Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I am not an American, so it is not my place to comment on what laws are or are not enacted in that country, however I can make the observation that in any active democracy the impetus that drives any public demand for legislation always is the result of conditions real or perceived on the ground. In that regard it is natural that those calling for stricter controls on firearms will leverage this situation to promote their views, the same way those that want stricter controls on off-shore drilling used the Gulf oil-spill to leverage theirs. This is how politics is done when public opinion is being courted. I find it somewhat unfair that those against gun-control would criticize their opponents for doing this, when the call to ‘morn the dead and deal with this latter’ is in fact a clear attempt at political spin control itself!

    It is still not right to leverage this as a gun-control issue. To look at it objectively, the Sandy Hook shooting, while tragic and high-profile, would be a statistical outlier in any broad analysis of firearm use in the US. We can’t base gun-control legislation on events that “sadden the nation.” Such legislation must be based on the impact it will have on the thousands of crimes and shootings committed or attempted every day, which, in aggregate, produce results far more tragic than this event. It is fair to use this shooting to inspire sober reflection on loss, life, and death, but it is galling to watch media-whores descend on the scene to promote their politics.

    I’m with those who support a d-bag’s right to respond to this tragedy by pulling out a megaphone, but at the same time, I wish that d-bag would eat sh*t and disappear.

    On the other hand, the Deepwater Horizon spill was, at least, statistically significant when it comes to an analysis of the environmental impact of offshore drilling. It is rational to base legislation and regulations on that event.


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  11. 11
    turnages Says:

    Steve, I know it doesn’t mean that much coming from 3000 miles across the pond from someone who’s only seen the tragedy on the telly. But as a fellow human being, I’m really sorry to hear of the pain and grief you have as one with closer and caring connections with those who died, and wish you all the best in getting through it.

    It’s because we care, and because we love, that the pain is great. Would we really wish that that were not so? Maybe if these tragic happenings can further enlarge our hearts for other, different, fellow human beings in their suffering, they will not have been utterly wasted.

    I have always admired your unswerving devotion to the truth as far as you see it. Indeed, none of us can do anything against the truth, but only for the truth, so it’s a good side to be on!

    Simon


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  12. 12
    Joel Upchurch Says:

    I actually read one useful suggestion about this case and other similar cases. The people who commit these kinds of crimes are malignant narcissists, who commit the crimes for the publicity. There should be no publicity that mentions the perpetrator by name, since that is giving him what he wants.


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  13. 13
    Gordon Says:

    One thing I strongly agree with is that, in times of grief, it’s important to remember that there are believers and non-believers, both of them hurting and that everyone should make an effort not to make a person hurt more or feel like a second class citizen because they do not share the majority belief. I think it’s a very good idea to approach those whose beliefs you do not know with a non-religious condolence that will leave nobody feeling worse or more excluded.

    I have experienced this myself. I come from a Catholic family and my mother and sister are both devoted. They know well that I am not a believer. I accept their beliefs and would not try to do anything to hurt them during a time of loss.

    When my father died, obviously, I was very saddened by it, although it was not entirely unexpected, I think anyone is expected to be hurt by that. Of course I went to the wake and the funeral and burial, desite the fact that I did not believe the funeral mass actually had any kind of magical powers. I went there to remember my dad and support my family. Of course, I went through the motions and kneeling at the casket and all the other things that the tradition demands.

    Of course, my family was also hurting and I know that they talked about him being in heaven etc because they actually believed it.

    It did, however, strike me as unfair that despite my good attempts to be respectful and accommodating of their beliefs that they would not do the same for me. Yes, there was some backhandedness. I think my family felt that I was emotionally weak and it was a good time to cram religion down my throatand hope I’d latch onto it for comfort.

    I heard all the same. Mom really talked a lot about how dad was in heaven to me especially and I know it was an attempt to make me admit I believed in that. She said “Now Gordy, I know you like to tell people you don’t believe in heaven, but you loved your father and he lvoed you and I know you won’t want to make him feel bad by saying that while he is looking down at you. ” She even said “If you really believe it’s the end then that must be horrible to think. I don’t know how you can really believe that.”

    I think it sounds like Steve has been there too.

    It was really adding insult to injury for me. Losing my father made me want to be closer to my mom and my sister during that period of time so I could take comfort in my family and the fact that they would repeatedly wave in my face that they viciously disagreed with my beliefs made me feel very alienated and a little bit like they did not want me included in things or wanted me to put on a face of something I’m not.

    So, yes, this can be a problem, and I am sure that there are those who have lost children who are in the same place. If 26 people died and you have to imaging then that there are probably a good 100 or so of immediate family members who are now mourning. Some of them will havge religion and some will not. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that we should not make it worse for those who don’t.


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  14. 14
    DV82XL Says:

    The reality is that gun control is probably impossible or at least impractical in the U.S. at this juncture. Canada, with at tenth of the population, and starting with more restrictive laws already in place, scrapped its firearm registry as too expensive and ineffective. The net annual operating cost of the program, originally estimated to be $2 million, was reported to be $66.4 million for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, and while some still think it was a good thing, this was never born out by a meaningful increase in convictions.

    Having said that, most of the reasons I have seen or heard supporting broad ownership of firearms in both our countries, are very flimsy and generally myopic even when they don’t fail outright on logic.

    I wrote elsewhere this week that in my opinion the conceit that a mob armed with hunting rifles and side arms can make an effective stand against a well-equipped, well trained modern infantry is risible, to say nothing about an armored column, helicopter gunships, or armed drones. What might have been true about the threat to a young nation from the European superpowers of the day in the latter part of the eighteenth century simply is not so to-day, and certainly the National Guard system that is in place servers as an effective deterrent against internal threats to the Union.

    I might add too that the possibility that the members of all branches of the armed forces of any current Western democracy would cooperate to install a dictatorship without the leadership of such an effort facing everything from insubordination to mass desertion to outright mutiny is highly unlikely.

    As for self-protection one needs to look at this from a broad tactical perspective. Consider how some settlers in contentious areas in Israel behave. There everyone caries a military rifle with them at all times. This posture does project a clear message of deterrence in a way that the possibility of a concealed weapon cannot. As well for the settlers there is regular training and drill to keep people current, because the fact is without proper training and regular practice a weapon like a handgun is more of a danger to the user (and bystanders) than it is to an assailant who will simply see his first target. Quickly evaluating a deadly situation, deploying your weapon and getting off an effective shot first are not a trivial sequence of tasks. In the case of schools, I would suggest it would probably be more effective to invest in good perimeter control and maybe one trained armed guard than expect to keep teachers qualified in close order small arms combat.

    In the end however outrages like this one are not going to be prevented by gun control, no matter how draconian. If it isn’t firearms it will happen by other means because the impetus driving the perpetrators of such atrocities are cultural, not technical and they will only stop when these factors are addressed and not before.


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  15. 15
    Shafe Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I wrote elsewhere this week that in my opinion the conceit that a mob armed with hunting rifles and side arms can make an effective stand against a well-equipped, well trained modern infantry is risible, to say nothing about an armored column, helicopter gunships, or armed drones.

    I don’t think you speak for the Vietnamese, Iraqis, Afghanis…

    I might add too that the possibility that the members of all branches of the armed forces of any current Western democracy would cooperate to install a dictatorship without the leadership of such an effort facing everything from insubordination to mass desertion to outright mutiny is highly unlikely.

    Your scenario is too narrow to be broadly applicable to the topic. First, a coup d’etat is not generally attempted with full cooperation of all members of the military. It is attempted by a faction that believes it is strong enough to take the government and resist the other factions, and it involves imprisonment or execution of dissenters. Second, an armed populace would not be expected to form ranks and march on Washington anyway (though even if it did, they would probably do so with the support of many of the military members who deserted during the coup.) Rather, a more apropos scenario is one where a government (democratic or authoritarian, legitimate or not) would consider the use of military or police force against its own people and must consider the real possibility of armed resistance. While it can count on almost certain victory, if that government has any interest in maintaining popularity, it would want to avoid such entanglements.

    As for self-protection one needs to look at this from a broad tactical perspective.

    One might do better to look at sharks. Sharks are capable killers, but they’re opportunistic and value self preservation. Prey that puts up too great a struggle is left alone and a less risky meal is sought. Most criminals in America are more akin to sharks than Hamas terrorists. They are not highly trained and have no more to defend than their own skin, so if a gun is drawn and they are able to retreat, they will do so.

    Further, consider that a neighborhood full of houses with garages is a more difficult target for a burglar than a neighborhood with no garages, because it is more difficult to tell when homeowners are at home. Similarly, being a criminal in an area where gun ownership and concealed-carry is common is riskier, and that deterrent effect is at least as important as a gun-owner’s tactical prowess.

    In the case of schools, I would suggest it would probably be more effective to invest in good perimeter control and maybe one trained armed guard than expect to keep teachers qualified in close order small arms combat.

    Agreed. Arming teachers is a ludicrous idea for more reasons than I care to enumerate here. Suffice it to say that it is difficult enough as it is to pay for a corps of teachers that is qualified to educate children.

    In the end however outrages like this one are not going to be prevented by gun control, no matter how draconian. If it isn’t firearms it will happen by other means because the impetus driving the perpetrators of such atrocities are cultural, not technical and they will only stop when these factors are addressed and not before.

    Agreed. We need to maintain perspective and realize that it’s a fool’s errand to set about defending against the miniscule probability of a mass murder in the classroom while the very real problems of sexual assault, abductions, fights, gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, teenage driving, etc. are far more likely to affect your family.

    Of course, now I’ve aided in turning this shooting into a gun-control argument.


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  16. 16
    DV82XL Says:

            Shafe said:

    I don’t think you speak for the Vietnamese, Iraqis, Afghanis…

    Not relevant examples. Resistance against conventional armed forces in those conflicts depends more on the weapons and tactics of asymmetrical warfare – IEDs, sabotage and other forms of guerrilla warfare than they do on a previously armed population. Conflicts such as these are very different in scope to anything likely to befall the U.S.

            Shafe said:

    Your scenario is too narrow to be broadly applicable to the topic…etc

    On the contrary. The argument is often given that an armed population is a bulwark against authoritarian excesses by government and that may have been true in the past, but again as I wrote above any actions that would prove effective against a modern military by a resistance depend less on small arms and more on weapons of opportunity. At any rate modern democracies are not as vulnerable to falling into this sort of chaos as they were even a century ago and like the threats to the U.S. that did exist at the time the second amendment was enacted are no longer a good rational for an armed citizenry.

    I would strongly suggest that more eligible people participating in voting would be a far more effective check on governments than armed citizens.

            Shafe said:

    Similarly, being a criminal in an area where gun ownership and concealed-carry is common is riskier, and that deterrent effect is at least as important as a gun-owner’s tactical prowess.

    Statements like this are testable, or at least should be verifiable by some statistical fact. I have seen the argument presented on several occasions, I have yet to see it backed up by good research.

    Please understand I am ambivalent on this topic largely because I would not care for a ‘war on guns’ similar to the execrable (and ineffective) ‘war on drugs’, with all that would entail descending on ether of our countries, but at the same time I cannot help seeing the systemic weakness of many of the arguments tabled on this issue.


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  17. 17
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I may as well weigh in on this, since gun control comes up frequently and because this event really does not change my stance on the issue.

    In my humble opinion, there probably should be more restrictions on private ownership of firearms in the US.

    While I agree that most people who legally purchase a firearm at their local gun shop and comply with all regulations in obtaining it have no intention to use it for criminal activity, the fact of the matter is that all illegal guns start off life as legal guns and are then illegally purchased, stolen or somehow otherwise obtained illegally. Therefore, regardless of the argument that legal firearms are usually not used in crimes, having more of them in circulation means more available for elicit use. And, of course, some legally-obtained guns are used in crimes.

    Not all guns have the same potential to be used for criminal purposes or present the same danger of misuse. Handguns make up less than 20% of the privately-owned guns in the US and account for more than 85% of gun homicides. It’s easy to see why. You can’t really stick someone up with a rifle, at least not in most cases. It’s too unwieldy for close quarters use. If someone is within a couple feet of you, the rifle is just too long to get a shot in. You can’t whip it out of your jacket. This is especially true with something like a bolt-action rifle. If you try to shoot someone and miss, they can run up to you and kick you in the groin while you try to reload it. It’s perfectly fine for shooting small game, but the potential for use in a massacre is very low.

    Hence, if the public wishes to own single-shot, bolt action .22 rifles with little or no oversight, I don’t have a lot of problem with that. Anyone who has used one will realize that it’s basically impossible to kill a class of students with one. You’d be lucky to be able to kill a single person with one. For one thing, unless you hit them directly in a vital organ, a single round is not usually lethal, and for another, you’d have no chance to pick them off before being tackled.

    Thus, I would consider such a firearm to be on the less hazardous end of the spectrum.

    Conversely, the guns used in this massacre would be at the extreme end of the spectrum for potential for misuse.

    The first weapon used was a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle. This is a civilian variant of the US military’s M-16. It’s expressly designed for killing large groups of people. That’s the whole point. It was designed to provide a lot of anti-personnel firepower to infantry troops. It has the utility to be used as a long range rifle and in close combat. There’s a legitimate purpose for this, of course. It became standard in an era where a handful of troops in a remote outpost might have to kill a large group of Vietcong rushing them. It has a lot of stopping power, it is rapid fire, has a large clip and clips can be changed rapidly – pretty much everything you want if your plan is to shoot up a classroom.

    The other guns he had were a Sig Sauer 9mm and a Glock 10mm. Tjese are handguns that have some pretty heavy firepower and can be fired pretty rapidly. They’re small, so you can carry multiple ones and the magazines can be swapped fast. I do not know what variant he had, but some of these have a magazine that has as many as 15 rounds. So two of these and a few extra clips and you can unload a lot in a short period of time.

    These kind of weapons fall on the opposit end of the spectrum: they pose the greatest danger to public safety and the highest potential for missuse.

    That’s not to say that there are not times when private ownership is fully justified. An armored car driver would want to have such a weapon. A bush pilot in Alaska might well need a gun that can fit on their belt but also has the ability to take down a bunch of charging polar bears.

    The regulations imposed on such weapons should be stringent and difficult enough to dissuade the casual end user from buying them for fun and should require very heavy training and certification of their users.

    We already do this with plenty of other dangerous items. For example, high explosives. Private individuals can purchase large amounts of high explosives, and do all the time. If you own a mine or a demolition company or if you do explosive welding, then it’s possible to obtain it, but you will have to deal with a great deal of safety regulations, audits, certifications, insurance etc etc. As well you should, of course, because we don’t want people buying a half ton of TNT to just “defend their home.”

    I’d therefore apply a sliding scale of permits for obtaining, carrying and using firearms.

    Limited Capacity Class: A basic single-shot rifle should require only minimal background checks for criminal history etc.

    Low Capacity Class: A break-action shot gun, a medium caliber bolt-action rifle should be about as easy to obtain as a drivers license.

    Medium Capacity Class: A higher caliber rifle with a larger magazine, a pump action shot gun should be as difficult to obtain as a commercial drivers license.

    Basic Hand Gun: A 6-shot revolver should be about as difficult to obtain as a Light Sport Aviation license, although owning more than two should be about as difficult as a Recreational pilot.

    High Capacity and extended capability handgun: Something like a 9mm semi-automatic should be as difficult to obtain as a difficult to obtain as a full private pilots license with full VFR privileges.

    High Security Grade Firearms: Ownership of multiple semi-automatic pistols with large clips, assault rifles etc etc. This should be about as difficult as getting a blasting permit and a license for the purchase of large quantities of high explosives. It’s possible to get approval for that, but by no means easy.


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  18. 18
    Shafe Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Not relevant examples. Resistance against conventional armed forces in those conflicts depends more on the weapons and tactics of asymmetrical warfare – IEDs, sabotage and other forms of guerrilla warfare than they do on a previously armed population.

    I will concede that those wars were not fought with “hunting rifles and side arms.” Those wars could not depend on previously armed populations, because they were not previously armed. But I think it is foolish to expect that houses full of handguns and rifles would not make a ground war more difficult and costly for the aggressor.

    But the point really was that, in practice, David does not “make a stand” against Goliath. The outgunned hide while the armored vehicles, drones, and attack helicopters pass. They attack soft targets and run away. Small arms are useful there.

    Conflicts such as these are very different in scope to anything likely to befall the U.S.

    That’s correct. Reference to the above wars is moot, because all-out military assault and occupation of hostile territory is not the eventuality one should consider for the US. Rather, we should consider the peace-time use of martial force by a government that is still concerned about public opinion.

    On the contrary. The argument is often given that an armed population is a bulwark against authoritarian excesses by government and that may have been true in the past, but again as I wrote above any actions that would prove effective against a modern military by a resistance depend less on small arms and more on weapons of opportunity. At any rate modern democracies are not as vulnerable to falling into this sort of chaos as they were even a century ago and like the threats to the U.S. that did exist at the time the second amendment was enacted are no longer a good rational for an armed citizenry.

    Why should we think that the democratic West is above authoritarian excesses? We have not created some sort of incorruptible utopia. If our democracies were vulnerable a century ago, they may be vulnerable again in the next century, or the next decade. But we don’t need some rogue despot to seize power to justify an armed populace.

    The people who arm themselves in the US (speaking in broad stereotypes) jealously defend the liberties granted by the US Constitution and are often outspoken about the perceived erosion of those liberties by expanding governments. It is not inconceivable that a public policy will be met with such vehement resistance that military force is considered to enforce it. (It has happened within the last century.) In that case, the government must carefully consider whether that might provoke a fire fight. Even engaging in such a battle would be a disaster politically. They may assure themselves a military victory over the dissidents, but invite their doom on election day.

    I think it is fair to speculate that the road from constitutional republic to authoritarian democracy would inevitably reach such a point. A national fiasco, such as an armed conflict over home-schooling rights, might well “wake up the sheeple” who will then steer the ship of state back to center. Such a scenario is more relevant to the modern US.

    I would strongly suggest that more eligible people participating in voting would be a far more effective check on governments than armed citizens.

    Agreed … in principle. In practice, well … some people should just stay home.

    Statements like this are testable, or at least should be verifiable by some statistical fact. I have seen the argument presented on several occasions, I have yet to see it backed up by good research.

    Wikipedia has sections dedicated to research on the topic in its “Gun Control” and “Concealed Carry in the United States” articles. Of course, while the research appears well-respected, it is so hotly contested that, unless you are capable of evaluating which is the best statistical model, it is left to your own bias to tell you which researchers to believe.

    At the very least, it can be said with some certainty that permissive gun laws do not lead to higher crime, so the question is whether it is acceptable to deny citizens the right to possess guns if that is their preferred method of self-defense.

    Please understand I am ambivalent on this topic largely because I would not care for a ‘war on guns’ similar to the execrable (and ineffective) ‘war on drugs’, with all that would entail descending on ether of our countries, but at the same time I cannot help seeing the systemic weakness of many of the arguments tabled on this issue.

    I respect that. I’m not as long-in-the-tooth and cynical as you are (written with affection, I assure you), but I appreciate the pragmatism of that position. (Possibly because it does not threaten my position.)


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  19. 19
    Jason C Says:

    That is the most sensibly gun policy idea that I’ve ever read. Thank you! That’s really post-worthy stuff.
    Do you mind if I borrow some of that text, I’ll be sure to give you credit?

    Your idea makes a lot of sense. Thinking back to the times when the second amendment was written, the variety and capabilities of guns was pretty limited. Like all technologies, as tools used to create products get better, the products get better. As mastery of the technology form increases, we almost always see a greater variety of form and function. It’s only sensible that guns should be categorized into license classes to acknowledge the change in technology over 200+ years.

            drbuzz0 said:

    I’d therefore apply a sliding scale of permits for obtaining, carrying and using firearms.

    Limited Capacity Class: A basic single-shot rifle should require only minimal background checks for criminal history etc.

    Low Capacity Class: A break-action shot gun, a medium caliber bolt-action rifle should be about as easy to obtain as a drivers license.

    Medium Capacity Class: A higher caliber rifle with a larger magazine, a pump action shot gun should be as difficult to obtain as a commercial drivers license.

    Basic Hand Gun: A 6-shot revolver should be about as difficult to obtain as a Light Sport Aviation license, although owning more than two should be about as difficult as a Recreational pilot.

    High Capacity and extended capability handgun: Something like a 9mm semi-automatic should be as difficult to obtain as a difficult to obtain as a full private pilots license with full VFR privileges.

    High Security Grade Firearms: Ownership of multiple semi-automatic pistols with large clips, assault rifles etc etc. This should be about as difficult as getting a blasting permit and a license for the purchase of large quantities of high explosives.

    It’s possible to get approval for that, but by no means easy.


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  20. 20
    Matthew Says:

    Now here’s a question: Is there any reputable research that shows a causative effect between increased restrictions on civlian owned firearms and decreased violent crime?

    Ideal would be a before and after for the same place (this would control for geography, local culture, etc).


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  21. 21
    Nick P. Says:

    I’m not going to comment on the politics of the matter because it is both inappropriate and unlikely to accomplish anything, but sufficed to say I do have a very strong opinion on the subject.

    I will however echo something said above:

            Joel Upchurch said:

    I actually read one useful suggestion about this case and other similar cases. The people who commit these kinds of crimes are malignant narcissists, who commit the crimes for the publicity. There should be no publicity that mentions the perpetrator by name, since that is giving him what he wants.

    On top of that, this 24 hour news orgy is disgusting and not helping the situation at all.

    The proper response to tragedies should be, “An individual who could better be categorized as a piece of garbage shot a number of people in a public place today. After being put down like a rabid animal and identified for investigation he was unceremoniously shoveled into an unmarked grave to be forgotten. Look up the website of our local affiliate in that area if you want to know more.”


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  22. 22
    Anon Says:

            Matthew said:

    Now here’s a question: Is there any reputable research that shows a causative effect between increased restrictions on civlian owned firearms and decreased violent crime?

    Ideal would be a before and after for the same place (this would control for geography, local culture, etc).

    Even then if violent crime reduces it could have happened without the gun restrictions.

    Realistically the only type of crime restrictions on guns would reduce are gun crimes with no reduction in crimes committed without guns (there’s a possibility that some crimes that would’ve been done with guns will be done with other weapons).


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  23. 23
    DV82XL Says:

            Shafe said:

    Why should we think that the democratic West is above authoritarian excesses? We have not created some sort of incorruptible utopia. If our democracies were vulnerable a century ago, they may be vulnerable again in the next century, or the next decade. But we don’t need some rogue despot to seize power to justify an armed populace.

    Again it is a question of asymmetry. Up until (one could argue) the Second World War an armed population could reasonably make a stand against a military bent on subjugating them. This is just no longer the case, and if that is what anyone is depending on to protect them against tyranny they are living in a fool’s paradise.

    The truth is that modern democracies are not as vulnerable to falling into this sort of chaos as they were before because those in power have evolved far more nuanced ways of exerting authority than marching jackbooted troops through the streets to intimidate the population.

    The idea of an armed population keeping its government in check is simply passé. It may once have been valid, but it is not now and as a consequence the continued belief in the effectiveness of this idea may be giving many a false perspective that in my opinion represents a significant danger in and of itself. Far more effective would be demands that voting be made mandatory or that more use is made of referendums for example if the protection of democracy is one’s objective than threatening armed resistance if it failed.

            Shafe said:

    At the very least, it can be said with some certainty that permissive gun laws do not lead to higher crime, so the question is whether it is acceptable to deny citizens the right to possess guns if that is their preferred method of self-defense.

    Even that is moot because crime rates are driven by many interlocking factors which make it difficult to assert this with the degree of certainty you seem to suggest. Also licencing firearms is no more denying citizens the right to possess them than licencing acts to deny someone from owning and operating a car.


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  24. 24
    Q Says:

            Shafe said:

    I don’t think you speak for the Vietnamese, Iraqis, Afghanis…

    Except you are using examples where major powers may have been either defeated (or at least kept at bay) by much more than small arms fire. Actually, small arms played very little role. If you actually study the history you will find that there is one weapon that is the big equalizer for insurgents and allows them to engage modern militaries. That weapon is the rocket propelled grenade. An RPG can take out pretty much any ground vehicle aside from a heavy tank or heavy APC.

    That and IED’s are the problem in Afghanistan and Iraq. Very effective IED’s are usually made from old artillery shells. Unfortunately, live shells are pretty easy to come by in that part of the world.

    Also, Vietnam is a completely invalid example. Sure, insurgency and irregular forces played a roll in the conflict, but the North Vietnamese also had the latest in state of the art Soviet-built aircraft and an unlimited supply of imported grenades, shells and infantry rockets. The Ho Chi Mein trail wasn’t so much for small arms as it was to bring down grenades and demolition explosives for the Vietcong.

    If you are going to use the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan for an example, then the decisive insurgency weapon was the US-provided stinger missile, because the Soviets depended on Helicopters and the stinger did a great job of taking them down.

    So… RPG’s for everyone?

            Shafe said:

    But the point really was that, in practice, David does not “make a stand” against Goliath. The outgunned hide while the armored vehicles, drones, and attack helicopters pass. They attack soft targets and run away. Small arms are useful there.

    When outgunned, they get bigger guns. They have very big guns. But really, even in the above situation, you have any idea how hard it is to hit a helicopter with a rifle? Much less hit it in a way that actually causes anything more than cosmetic damage?

            Shafe said:

    That’s correct. Reference to the above wars is moot, because all-out military assault and occupation of hostile territory is not the eventuality one should consider for the US. Rather, we should consider the peace-time use of martial force by a government that is still concerned about public opinion.

    Why should we think that the democratic West is above authoritarian excesses? We have not created some sort of incorruptible utopia. If our democracies were vulnerable a century ago, they may be vulnerable again in the next century, or the next decade. But we don’t need some rogue despot to seize power to justify

    Oh… kay

    Lets actually stop and consider what you could potentially do with small arms against a powerful military.

    In an all out military assault and occupation, which you go out there and say is not the problem to worry about, then an armed public might actually have some effect. No, they won’t actually stop the occupation or anything, but they can make it hard for the occupier to relax. Basically you have a situation like the French Resistance was. The Germans occupied France and the resistance didn’t stop that, but they managed to make it such that the German soldiers could not walk around with impunity without the danger that someone would take a shot at them, thus requiring that they kept a military presence. That’s about it. It was an annoyance and nothing else

    So your situation is basically that the government does not institute a brutal coast to coast police state but instead starts picking on a few people?

    Okay, you know what happens if start shooting at police or the military in such a situation? It’s called suicide. They won’t tolerate it.

    Look at Waco and Ruby Ridge. I know what you will say. You will tell me that the people who stood their ground and shot back were heros for defending their freedom and those are perfect examples of why we need more guns. However, you do know that in both cases THEY LOST. Yes, they lost. They died. The government, with their tanks and helicopters won. End of story.

    Anyway, if you want to actually consider how an effective resistance could hypothetically be mounted and deny the government the ability to operate, maybe even bring it to its knees, you should actually consider what the government **needs** to function. It needs basic infrastructure, especially communication infrastructure. That’s how resistance forces made their stand. They derailed trains and cut power lines and that kind of thing.

    I think today the government would have a much harder time turning on all its own people, because it now has a much greater dependence on electronic communication than ever and there are hundreds of thousands of telecom and IT workers in the US. A small portion of them rebelling and deciding that they were against the government could pretty well bring things to their knees.


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  25. 25
    Shafe Says:

            DV82XL said:

    The truth is that modern democracies are not as vulnerable to falling into this sort of chaos as they were before because those in power have evolved far more nuanced ways of exerting authority than marching jackbooted troops through the streets to intimidate the population.

    The idea of an armed population keeping its government in check is simply passé.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I can’t imagine that anyone expects citizens wielding .357 magnums (or is that magna?) to form ranks and stand off against the regulars who have M4′s and air support. If you are speaking with gun advocates who promote that idea, then you are speaking to idiots.

    In the modern democracy, where, as you say, the authoritarians are more nuanced, armed citizens do not have to fight drones with .22′s. They only have to pose the threat of making the government look bad. If a policy is so bad and unjust that you must use martial force to enact it, then you may end up with a fire fight and dead idealistic citizens. That is how an armed populace keeps a government in check in this era. And if you don’t think the government will turn military forces on its own citizens, you are mistaken.

    Also licencing firearms is no more denying citizens the right to possess them than licencing acts to deny someone from owning and operating a car.

    It would be instructive to identify to which type of gun control we’re each referring. The State of Illinois and Washington D.C. have strict bans on all guns. Many gun control advocates promote this policy. I think it is foolish. Your reference to a war on guns similar to a war on drugs seems to imply gun bans. Licensing schemes are fine by me, as long as the licensing process is not onerous for law-abiding citizens. To be truthful, Steve’s scheme above seems too restrictive to me. I have seen no evidence that concealed carry permit holders are more dangerous when carrying semi-automatic pistols than revolvers. But the general idea is acceptable to me.

    In Texas, most long guns can be bought freely. Hand guns can be bought subject to national restrictions and possessed in the home and car. Felons don’t get them. Licenses can be obtained to carry concealed hand guns by completing a class and qualifying on a range. Fully automatic weapons are severely restricted. I think this level of freedom suites us just fine. There is some regulation, but law-abiding citizens a free to choose firearms for their defense.


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  26. 26
    Shafe Says:

            Q said:

    Except …

    I must not be writing clearly. Everyone’s reading comprehension can’t be failing at once.

    Yes, the Branch Davidians lost. And no, they were not heroes. They were messed up. But Waco showed 1) that the government is capable of turning military force on it’s own people and 2) when they end up killing those people, the country notices, and there are ramifications. David Koresh did not bring down the government, but the event did change it, because people got a wake-up call, and the government got a really bad taste in its mouth. Do you think that they would prefer to use that kind of force again if they can avoid it? Having an armed populace makes it hard for the government to avoid it. We will never know how different the country would be if the government had been able to walk into the compound and arrest everybody without a scene.

    Once again,
    Winchester vs. Lockheed Martin on the battlefield? No!!
    Politicians afraid of killing citizens in a fire fight? Yes!!


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  27. 27
    Anon Says:

            Shafe said:

    It would be instructive to identify to which type of gun control we’re each referring.

    There are various degrees of gun control. Probably the most important factor would be whether the law recognises a right or privilege to have a gun for self-defence.

    If you allow self-defence as a reason to own a gun then you must allow people to carry the gun loaded at all times and also need to be somewhat less restrictive on storage requirements.

            Shafe said:

    Licensing schemes are fine by me, as long as the licensing process is not onerous for law-abiding citizens.

    Gun safety classes and a test doesn’t seem onerous to me, something at the level of obtaining a drivers licence seems to be reasonable, nor does a background check.

    The opposition to requiring a licence to own a gun that the US gun lobby has may well be their most illogical position.


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  28. 28
    DV82XL Says:

            Shafe said:

    Yes, the Branch Davidians lost. And no, they were not heroes. They were messed up. But Waco showed 1) that the government is capable of turning military force on it’s own people and 2) when they end up killing those people, the country notices, and there are ramifications. David Koresh did not bring down the government, but the event did change it, because people got a wake-up call, and the government got a really bad taste in its mouth.

    You are missing the broader point here, Waco and Ruby Ridge (and Montreal during the October crisis, and later during the Oka Crisis, to show that this is not a U.S. only issue) are perfect examples of why an armed citizenry has lost it value. None of these were permitted to become the nexus of a serious resistance movement. These small acts of treason were crushed, and if the government got a ‘really bad taste in its mouth’ it didn’t seem to last very long and it won’t stop it from doing it again.

    In a similar fashion the none of the various flavors of the Occupy movement was allowed to become a Tiananmen Square. The protesters were unarmed and the authorities simply waited until the cold drove away all the white-bread kids leaving only the small core of hardliners and the indigent, then broke them up as a public nuisance. This is what I mean by nuanced ways of exerting authority – if they are armed they are crushed as swiftly as possible, if they are not they are contained and left to rot until they are no longer newsworthy then dispersed.

    This is what I mean when I write that firearm possession as a bulwark against tyranny presents a false sense of security – its been factored in and dealt with. The real villains are the plutocrats that now run most of the planet and they could care less if the unwashed own light weapons because they know that will never be a threat to their position and if it gives the peons the illusion that they are free, all the better.

    Look my dad and his brothers surrendered their hunting rifles and shotguns when the licencing law went into effect up here because by then they were in their seventies and the process wasn’t worth the effort for them. They had come from a time and place where hunting had provided a good portion of the family’s meat during the Great Depression and they were not pleased and it was a issue to them until day they passed away, so I know that feelings run high on this subject. But these feelings cannot be permitted to cloud one’s judgement. Cleaning your gun and believing that you are doing your bit for democracy and freedom is simply a fantasy of a time passed just as the idea that one day we might have to live off the land again was for my dad and my uncles. Times change.


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  29. 29
    Q Says:

            Shafe said:

    1) that the government is capable of turning military force on it’s own people

    Actually the government did that during the Civil War, so we knew it would.

    But anyhow, the fact that military equipment would be used is obvious. In an armed standoff with the police, the police will use what they have to. IE: they will use swat teams and armored vehicles etc. In the extreme case where they are still outgunned, the next logical step is seeking the military for support.

    It wasn’t really the government turning its military on its own people, though, not in general. it was just one group of people escalating the situation beyond the normal law enforcement resources.

            Shafe said:

    We will never know how different the country would be if the government had been able to walk into the compound and arrest everybody without a scene.

    Well, Waco was handled poorly in many regards. They just plain bugnled it. They should have negotiated with people and tried to get some defectors.

    However, I would have been happier if they could have indeed walked in and arrested people without incident.

    That cult was abusing children and committing bank fraud. They should have been arrested.


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  30. 30
    BMS Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Look my dad and his brothers surrendered their hunting rifles and shotguns when the licencing law went into effect up here because by then they were in their seventies and the process wasn’t worth the effort for them.

    And they were such a threat to society. I’m sure that everyone slept better at night knowing that these “dangerous” septuagenarians were finally disarmed.


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  31. 31
    Matthew Says:

            Anon said:

    Even then if violent crime reduces it could have happened without the gun restrictions.

    Realistically the only type of crime restrictions on guns would reduce are gun crimes with no reduction in crimes committed without guns (there’s a possibility that some crimes that would’ve been done with guns will be done with other weapons).

    So, any studies finding reduced gun violence and stable/minor rises in other areas of violent crime?

    If not, then what is the justification for restricting citizens en masse from owning and carrying guns?


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  32. 32
    DV82XL Says:

            BMS said:

    And they were such a threat to society. I’m sure that everyone slept better at night knowing that these “dangerous” septuagenarians were finally disarmed.

    For the record they turned their firearms in because no one else in the family hunts anymore or wanted the damned things. If nothing else, they were responsible gun owners that wanted to be sure they knew that these weapons were disposed of properly rather than leaving the task to others. The end would have been the same one way or the other, it just saved me and my cousins some paperwork and grief down the road.


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  33. 33
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Shafe said:

    I have seen no evidence that concealed carry permit holders are more dangerous when carrying semi-automatic pistols than revolvers. But the general idea is acceptable to me.

    Primarily because a semi-automatic with a large clip presents a greater danger for harm, should it fall into the wrong hands, than a six-shot revolver and therefore, it should be expected to be guarded and kept with a higher degree of security.

    If you tried to walk into a class room and shoot it up with a revolver, you’d have a hard time killing many. You can’t expect 100% of the rounds to strike someone or 100% of those struck to be a fatal shot. So how many could you reasonably kill? Six at the most, but more probably two or three.

    Reloading the revolver is a bit cumbersome. Each spent round is pulled and a new one inserted. People would run away or stop you. Therefore, the revolver is not a good potential massacre weapon.

    A Glock 9mm has greater potential for use as a massacre weapon. You can unload 14 rounds quickly. That makes it easy to kill a lot more people. Once you run out, you can pop in a new clip in seconds and shoot another 14 rounds.

    Therefore, if you are going to own a Glock, it’s even more important that you exercise responsibility and don’t do something like forget it in your jacket at a restaurant or leave it in the glove compartment of your rental car. Obviously, most gun owners are not stupid and irresponsible like that, but it only takes one to do a lot of harm.

    If the reports are true and the source of the guns in this case was the collection of the shooters mother, then we have to conclude that this was, at least in part, due to an irresponsible owner of legal guns. She kept the guns in the same house with an individual who was mentally disturbed. She failed to take the measures necessary to stop that mentally disturbed individual from gaining access to them.

    I have never heard of a circumstance where a licensed explosives handler left their cache of blasting materials somewhere that a mentally disturbed person could go use them to blow stuff up. It’s actually exceptionally rare, to the point of almost being unheard of, for legally owned demolition explosives to be stolen or lost. I can only conclude that the process of permitting and licensing of explosives handlers does indeed result in near-universal responsible behavior.


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  34. 34
    Shafe Says:

    It seems pointless to argue the utility of small arms in defense against one’s government while we each harbor disparate fantasies about the nature and depth of the disorder and corruption into which our societies are likely to descend. Suffice it to say that mine include scenarios in which I would rather the people be armed.

    That said, those who want to place limits on the availability of guns must rely on more than opinions about the relevance of the 2nd amendment. They must demonstrate that placing those limitations will have a positive effect on society that will justify a reduction in liberty. Failing that, liberty should be preserved. Thus far, they have failed.

    I think some sacrifices, such as reasonable waiting periods and carry permits are prudent.


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  35. 35
    DV82XL Says:

    Again, while recognizing this is not my fight, the only thing that is really needed is enough people to want those limitations to be legislated into law and this event Connecticut may move the majority in that direction. Politics after all is about issues.

    Were I a gun supporter I would endeavor to hone my arguments to a finer point than is currently the case. You may find it harder to defend your position than it has been in the past.


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  36. 36
    Anon Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Reloading the revolver is a bit cumbersome. Each spent round is pulled and a new one inserted.

    Nope, you can load all rounds in most revolvers at the same time with a speed loader (it’s about as quick as changing the magazine of a semi-auto).


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  37. 37
    BMS Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Primarily because a semi-automatic with a large clip presents a greater danger for harm, should it fall into the wrong hands, than a six-shot revolver and therefore, it should be expected to be guarded and kept with a higher degree of security.

    That’s right. We all know that a nine-round .22 semi-automatic pistol is far more dangerous than a .44 magnum six-shot revolver (a.k.a., “Dirty Harry’s” gun).

    If I really wanted to shoot and kill someone, I know which weapon I would prefer, and it ain’t the automatic.

    If you tried to walk into a class room and shoot it up with a revolver, you’d have a hard time killing many. You can’t expect 100% of the rounds to strike someone or 100% of those struck to be a fatal shot. So how many could you reasonably kill? Six at the most, but more probably two or three.

    Let’s see … if I were firing at first graders, I’d expect that even a .22 revolver would be quite effective and lethal. This is probably about as close to “shooting fish in a barrel” as one could get without needing a barrel or some fish.

    Reloading the revolver is a bit cumbersome. Each spent round is pulled and a new one inserted.

    Someone else has already pointed out the existence of the speedloader. I’ll just add that getting rid of the spent casings in a modern revolver is as simple as pushing a button.


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  38. 38
    BMS Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Far more effective would be demands that voting be made mandatory …

    God, what an awful idea!

    You forget that choosing not to vote is a vote in and of itself. Even US legislators are allowed to vote “present.”

    Not showing up at the polls means that you’re too lazy, too stupid, too ambivalent, or all of the above to even make an effort. Why should someone like that be voting in the first place, much less be forced to vote? You’d probably do better for democracy by flipping a coin or rolling a die instead.

    … or that more use is made of referendums for example if the protection of democracy is one’s objective …

    Yep, that style of government has worked so well for California that its cities are now going bankrupt, and the state will probably follow suit before too long.

    Personally, I think that I’d prefer the armed resistance. At least it won’t require a federal bailout.


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  39. 39
    drbuzz0 Says:

            BMS said:

    That’s right. We all know that a nine-round .22 semi-automatic pistol is far more dangerous than a .44 magnum six-shot revolver (a.k.a., “Dirty Harry’s” gun).

    If I really wanted to shoot and kill someone, I know which weapon I would prefer, and it ain’t the automatic.

    Sorry. Should have been more specific. A revolver of relatively low caliber. That would be the baseline for a handgun then moving up from there into higher classes of weapon.

            BMS said:

    Let’s see … if I were firing at first graders, I’d expect that even a .22 revolver would be quite effective and lethal. This is probably about as close to “shooting fish in a barrel” as one could get without needing a barrel or some fish.

    Not really…

    You’re talking about a rushed situation where you are running in, shooting quickly and you have pandemonium and targets that will not stand still.

    Perhaps if you were very close, you would have pretty good accuracy.

    To be lethal you will need to shoot to the head or chest. Anywhere else is unlikely to kill with a single bullet. You might get a kill if you hit the femoral artery dead on, but in general, a .22 will need to be a direct hit to a vital organ even on a child.

    In rapid discharges in close quarters, most shots miss. This is even true for trained police officers. They might be right next to a suspect who pulls a gun and they fire back and empty their clip, but many of the bullets will be found to not have hit their mark.

            BMS said:

    Someone else has already pointed out the existence of the speedloader. I’ll just add that getting rid of the spent casings in a modern revolver is as simple as pushing a button.

    Point taken, but still, the larger magazine makes it a more effective weapon for shooting multiple persons. A speed loader still seems to be slower than changing clips, even not considering the better capacity of a clip, but I suppose you could have many pre-loaded speed loaders.

    Of course, the fire power you can unleash in a short period of time is greater still if you have more than one handgun and thus don’t even need to worry about having reload time.

    Of course, I’m not suggesting that a low caliber revolver should be especially easy to obtain a license for. Certainly it should be more difficult than a break-action shot gun.

    Not all guns have the same potential. Capacity, firepower, rate of fire etc all are part of the equation.


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  40. 40
    Anon Says:

            BMS said:

    God, what an awful idea!

    You forget that choosing not to vote is a vote in and of itself. Even US legislators are allowed to vote “present.”

    Nothing to stop a person who objects to voting from putting a blank ballot paper in the box (it could be technically illegal, but if the ballot is secret as it should be there’d be no way to prosecute).

    People with philosophical objections to voting could get themselves excused from such a requirement, just make the process harder than voting so you only get those who truly are committed to not voting instead of the merely lazy.

            BMS said:

    Not showing up at the polls means that you’re too lazy, too stupid, too ambivalent, or all of the above to even make an effort. Why should someone like that be voting in the first place, much less be forced to vote?

    If you make a cost/benefit analysis of voting the answer you get is that it isn’t worth it for an individual given that their vote is extremely unlikely to change the outcome even though the social costs of not voting are that nut cases who do show up to the polls get more power than they deserve based on their numbers.

    Trying to increase voter turnout by reducing the cost to vote doesn’t appear to work (posting voting only appears to when you use different measures for before and after) while adding a cost to not voting actually does work.

            BMS said:

    You’d probably do better for democracy by flipping a coin or rolling a die instead.

    Given that juries seem to work there is some merit to that idea.


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  41. 41
    Shafe Says:

    The idea of mandatory voting is so absurd that I dismissed and forgot it as soon as I read it above. I’m with BMS. While you may be able to force people into the voting booth, you cannot force them to be educated on the issues or candidates. They will likely be absolutely clueless about most of what’s on the ballot. For presidential, and possibly Senate and House elections, (maybe governor and mayor, too) they may be familiar with which candidate is more charismatic or handsome, or which one promises them more stuff, but they will have no idea about the candidates for judges, school boards, county commissioners, comptrollers, railroad commissioners, etc. etc. etc. And those local elections have far more impact on the day-to-day lives of the people. Those local politics also form the “grass roots” from which national issues emerge.

    Those citizens who care enough to find out who is on their school board and who their city councilman is are already showing up to vote. The more uninformed and ambivalent cretins you cram into the voting booths, the more you dilute the vote of those of us who care enough to make the effort uncoerced.


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  42. 42
    atheistmorons Says:

    THE MAYAN SKEPTIC APOCALYPSE 12/21/2012

    we really enjoy your atheist forum

    do a search on youtube for skepticality

    a little souvenir

    it is the video about the PIGS


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  43. 43
    Shafe Says:

            atheistmorons said:

    THE MAYAN SKEPTIC APOCALYPSE 12/21/2012

    we really enjoy your atheist forum

    do a search on youtube for skepticality

    a little souvenir

    it is the video about the PIGS

    You wanna force this guy to vote?


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  44. 44
    atheistmorons Says:

    and i think we even mention YOU, packard

    i am sure you are mourning the thousands of Iraqi children killed with American bombs. Yankees are a particular kind of hypocrite.


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  45. 45
    Jason C Says:

            Shafe said:

    You wanna force this guy to vote?

    Would you trust him with a gun?


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  46. 46
    Shafe Says:

            Jason C said:

    Would you trust him with a gun?

    Ha ha ha… Touche.

    I certainly wouldn’t make it mandatory.


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  47. 47
    DV82XL Says:

    Australia has mandatory voting and has had for some time without falling apart, however it is my understanding that some form of null option can be selected on the ballot there.

    Nevertheless I presented this and the referendum as better ways of encouraging democracy i.e., “that form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.” if that is indeed your objective. An armed population prepared to resist government by force if they don’t agree with it strikes me more as a call for anarchy – “a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority”. The point here being that again, the logic of some of the arguments being tabled on the pro-firearms side lack good foundations.

    There are good compromises on this issue that can be made that most people could live with but I can tell you right now bellicose arguments about resisting government or the need for assault rifles for home protection are not going to go far against a backdrop of school shootings.

    Keep in mind that I have seen this up close before. It was the École Polytechnique massacre and the Concordia University massacre both in Montreal that where leveraged to legislate very draconian gun laws in Canada. They were so bad that they have proven almost impossible to properly enforce and terribly expensive to the public purse.


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  48. 48
    Shafe Says:

            Jason C said:

    Would you trust him with a gun?

    To answer the question more fully, he had written nothing here to prove he cannot be trusted with a gun, any more than he has proven that he cannot be trusted to operate a crane or a motor vehicle. Forcing someone to vote and denying them access to guns are both actions which limit liberty.

    To impose either of those things on him, I would need to know more about him than just his implied claim that tomorrow Steve is going to be made a fool.


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  49. 49
    atheistmorons Says:

    shafe – we already made a FOOL OF HIM.. and the whole world will see

    THE MAYAN SKEPTIC APOCALYPSE 12/21/2012

    we really enjoy your atheist forum

    do a search on youtube for skepticality

    a little souvenir

    it is the video about the PIGS


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  50. 50
    DV82XL Says:

    atheistmorons, looking to spend Christmas back in L’Institut Philippe-Pinel are we? Because it can be arranged you know.


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