Friday, February 23, 2018

When seconds count, police are minutes away

More of my recent debate with Darrell Bock on gun-control:

If we're going to do international comparisons, here's a broader sample group: 

This only goes to 2015 so recent major events in the USA are missing including Orlando, Las Vegas, and now Florida. We have had several recently which raises questions.

That cuts both ways. We'd need to update the survey to include additional jihadist attacks abroad, since I was responding to a commenter who tried to compare the USA to Australia. With that in mind:

Unclear how updating the survey helps your case. The fact that Europe is a gun-free zone, due to gun-control laws, makes it a soft target for jihadis. 

So I take it, Steve, you think we are Ok and just have to accept these incidents and make no effort to think through options.

Lots of permutations to that question. Let's break it down.

i) To begin with, I presume you appreciate the fact that we do have to accept a certain level of criminality. The best we can reasonably hope for is to keep crime at manageable levels. To prevent crime from spiraling out of control.

Utopian schemes to eradicate crime degenerate into totalitarian police state regimes that not only suppress civil liberties, but produce massive unaccountable corruption. So there are tradeoffs in a free and open society. 

ii) There is, more over, the question of whether gun control laws are symbolic feel-good measures that fail to solve the problem. For instance:

There are some things we can do to try to improve the general culture. 

iii) For instance, I know about a church where the senior pastor and the young pastor are both volunteer coaches at the local high school. 

iv) Likewise, we can defend the civil right of Jewish/Christian students to form voluntary Bible clubs in school. 

v) We should oppose the NEA's war on boys (e.g. Christina Hoff Sommers), which likely causes a backlash by creating resentful boys. 

Unfortunately, Obama voters like you made it harder to improve the general culture when you elected a man who empowered the secular progressives. 

vi) In addition, there's the question of whether some of these attacks have a common denominator. Islam is a common denominator for some attacks, viz.

Vehicular jihad in Manhattan (10/31/17)

Muslim knife attack in Columbus Ohio (11/28/16)

Muslim knife attack in St. Cloud MN (9/17/16)

Jihadist bombings in New Jersey/NYC (9/17-19/16)

Orlando gay nightclub mass shooting by Muslim perp (6/13/16)

San Bernardino mass shooting by Muslim perp

Jihadist Boston bombing attack (4/15/13)

Jihadist Ft. Hood attack  (5/11/09)

One partial solution to that subclass of attacks is to ban Muslim immigrants as well as deport Muslim foreign nationals. 

Or do you think we are Ok and just have to accept these incidents and make no effort to think through options? Unfortunately, Obama voters like you make Muslim massacres on American soil inevitable by electing a president who promoted policies that result in Muslim massacres on American soil. 

Instead of posing accusatory questions, maybe you should accept responsibility for your own complicity in the current situation. 

I didn't "import" the Muslim argument. We're discussing massacres in the USA. Jihad/sharia is an increasing component. Sometimes they use guns and sometimes they use other weapons. 

To call that "fear mongering" indicates that you're not serious about reducing predictable, preventable mass killings. 

I never suggested that mass shootings and other mass killings should be connected to the Dreamer issue, so the fact that I don't connect them is a red herring. You're the one who discussed both issues in your article. That's the only connection. I discussed both because you discussed both, and not because they're logically or causally interrelated.

Now, since you raise the issue, there is some linkage between illegal immigration and street gang violence. However, that's true for immigration in general–legal as well as illegal. Immigrant kids join ethnic street gangs for protection. That's also a young unattached male issue. But I've kept that separate from the rest of the discussion since it's tangential. 

Finally, let's run through some other examples.

1. Stoneman Douglas High (2018).

I don't know what motivated Cruz. I read that he was adopted and both adoptive parents died. Seems likely that his unstable domestic situation fueled his rage. In particular, lack of contact with a biological father is a well-known contributing factor to juvenile delinquency in boys. 

2. Vegas Shooting (10/1/17) 

From what I've read, Paddock was a rich guy who planned months in advance. Given his resources and determination, I don't know what law would prevent that massacre.

3. Virginia Tech shooting (2007) 

i) Cho used handguns. You've indicated that you don't believe in banning handguns. So, if you're going to be consistent, gun control won't prevent incidents like that.

ii) I've read that Cho had a history of mental illness. Some people think we should change the law to make it easier to institutionalize people like Cho. That, however, solves one problem by creating another problem, given the inevitable abuse that liberalizing involuntary commitment will lead to. 

iii) Virginia Tech was a gun-free zone, which meant unarmed teachers and students were defenseless. It takes a gun to stop a gun. Armed civilians prevent massacres:

4. Sandy Hook (2012)

Another gun-free zone. Guess what happens if a perp takes advantage of that?

5. Sutherland Springs church massacre 

i) Another gun-free zone. Predicable results. 

ii) As an Air Force vet, Kelley had experience with military grade weaponry. 

iii) I believe existing law already prohibited him from buying guns, but bureaucratic bungling let him slip through the net. 

6. Aurora Shooting (2012).

i) Another gun-free zone. 

ii) I believe Holmes used a variety of guns. So a ban on AR-15s would not prevent the massacre.

iii) I've read that he was psychotic. Raises same issues as Cho (see above).

One question is whether psychotropic drugs actually contribute to mental instability. 

7. Emanuel church shooting (2015) 

i) Roof used a handgun, so banning AR-15s wouldn't prevent that atrocity.

ii) I've read that he originally planned to attack the College of Charleston, but was deterred by campus security. So he settled on a gun-free zone. 

8. Columbine

From what I've read, laws already in place were sufficient to prevent that crime, but law enforcement failed to execute a search warrant. Laws are useless if law enforcement is delinquent. 

In response to your question:

No one doubts this can be used to defend. That is transparent. Did the invaders have AR 15's? No. So was this the only weapon that would have defended in this case? No. My question is how often did you force an assault using such weapons. Not the example you cite.

i) One homeowner's son v. three intruders. You think the homeowner should give the intruders a fighting chance? Make it an even match to give the intruders a fair chance at overpowering the homeowner's son?

ii) You commit the fallacy of question-framing by casting the question to artificially restrict the range of permissible answers. I don't grant the legitimacy of how you frame the question. It's a common debate tactic to frame the terms of the debate to the disadvantage of your opponent. I don't concede that imposition. 

iii) You also overlook the deterrent value of well-armed homeowners, so that in some cases it never escalates to a shootout because it's too hazardous for would-be home-invaders to take the risk. 

Let's take stock of the recent school shooting. According to my information:

i) The FBI was warned twice, but failed to act on the tips

ii) The local sheriff was warned 39(?) times, but failed to act on the tips

iii) The security feed was on 20 minute delay

iv) The armed guard at the school hid while the sniper was on a rampage inside. 

v) 3 deputies waited outside while the sniper was on a rampage inside. 

And you think the priority is to scale back the limited firepower civilians have to protect themselves so that the authorities, who've served us so well on this and other occasions, can take up the slack? 

According to a 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, “[a]lmost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”iv Perhaps the most famous of these surveys, conducted by Kleck and Gertz (1995), found that guns were used defensively more around 2.5 million times each year in the United States. Timothy Hsiao, (2015) "Against Gun Bans and Restrictive Licensing," Essays in Philosophy: Vol. 16: Iss. 2, Article 3 (p184). 

The first item in the sequence asked the sample to agree or disagree that "a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun." About three-fifths of the sample (5696) agreed. Another item read, "A smart criminal always tries to find out if his potential victim is armed." More than four-fifths ( 8196) agreed with that. Yet another item read, "Most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police." About three-fifths ( 5796) also agreed with that.25 There were also two direct questions on whether guns thwart crimes. One reads, "One reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime." Three-quarters of the sample (7496) agreed…The other reads, "A store owner who is known to keep a gun on the premises is not going to get robbed very often." About three-fifths ( 5896) again agreed. The possibility that one's intended victim is armed was evidently a concern to most of these men: the strong majority agreed that it is wise to find out in advance if one's potential victims are armed, and to avoid them if they are. The Armed Criminal in America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons, 27. 


  1. Great piece.

    For the Sutherland Springs church massacre, I'd add former NRA instructor Stephen Willeford heard the noise from the shooting from his house near the church, quickly grabbed a handful of bullets and his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, ran outside his house barely dressed and barefoot, and shot Kelley twice: once in the leg and once in-between metal-plated gear that Kelley had been wearing and directly into Kelley's left side, which may have mortally wounded Kelley. In short, an NRA instructor with an AR-15 rifle arguably saved the already horrible events of the day from becoming much worse.

    TL;DR: Kelley's guns murdered lives, Willeford's gun saved lives.