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More guns: A recipe for safety or more deaths?

Posted by Max Brantley on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 7:08 AM

GUN GROWTH: Soon the numbers to top population.
  • GUN GROWTH: Soon the numbers to top population.
Mother Jones posts an article sure to set the NRA gun nuts like Asa! abuzz:

In the fierce debate that always follows the latest mass shooting, it's an argument you hear frequently from gun rights promoters: If only more people were armed, there would be a better chance of stopping these terrible events. This has plausibility problems—what are the odds that, say, a moviegoer with a pack of Twizzlers in one pocket and a Glock in the other would be mentally prepared, properly positioned, and skilled enough to take out a body-armored assailant in a smoke- and panic-filled theater? But whether you believe that would happen is ultimately a matter of theory and speculation. Instead, let's look at some facts gathered in a two-month investigation by Mother Jones.

In the wake of the slaughters this summer at a Colorado movie theater and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years. We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. Moreover, we found that the rate of mass shootings has increased in recent years—at a time when America has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of new laws has made it easier than ever to carry them in public. And in other recent rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, they not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.

More guns. More killing. Yes, I know: Correlation is not causation.

Bill Keller of the New York Times draws the obvious Swiftian conclusion this morning for the NRA's dandy new PR campaign for more guns everywhere, particularly in schools: Why not arm every kid, too?

Comments (26)

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Given the natural right of self defense, is there any way to justify the prohibition against civilians possessing body armor? I'm surprised that the vociferous 2nd amendment supporters haven't tried to make the case for invalidating those laws.

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Posted by Rutrow on 12/31/2012 at 7:25 AM

Aren't the only ones prohibited from owning body armor in Arkansas those convicted of a felony?

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Posted by Jabberwocky on 12/31/2012 at 7:59 AM

When body armor is outlawed, only outlaws will have body armor.

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Posted by louie on 12/31/2012 at 9:28 AM

From Comments: bob h
“An unspoken, implicit threat of violence is part of the way Republicans operate in our system at a time when their dogmas are increasingly unpopular. Having your supporters armed and dangerous gives them a psychological edge on their opponent that they don't want to give up.”

From the legal realm..
Federal: The United States government has established legislation that prohibits convicted felons from purchasing, owning, or utilizing body armor in any form or fashion.

Arkansas State: A.C.A. § 5-79-101 (2012), Title 5 Criminal Offenses , Subtitle 6. Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Or Welfare , Chapter 79 Body Armor
Criminal possession of body armor.
(a) No person may possess body armor if that person has been found guilty of or has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to any of the following offenses:
(1) Capital murder, § 5-10-101;
(2) Murder in the first degree, § 5-10-102;
(3) Murder in the second degree, § 5-10-103;
(4) Manslaughter, § 5-10-104;
(5) Aggravated robbery, § 5-12-103;
(6) Battery in the first degree, § 5-13-201; or
(7) Aggravated assault, § 5-13-204.
(b) As used in this section, "body armor" means any material designed to be worn on the body and to provide bullet penetration resistance.
(c) A violation of this section constitutes a Class A misdemeanor.

“Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.”
Laurence J. Peter

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Posted by Zatharus on 12/31/2012 at 9:32 AM

Finally. I'd like to see about a billion more articles and posts like this:…

(I don't read USA Today-brought to my attention by the Colition to Stop Gun Violence)

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Posted by Yellowdogdaughter on 12/31/2012 at 10:05 AM

I might raise an issue with the methodology. The article looks only at incidents involving four or more deaths. This would exclude incidents where the shooter was planning on killing as many people as possible but was stopped before he killed four.

In addition, the murder rate should really be plotted on that graph. It's been falling for decades even as firearms have become more available.

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Posted by Gylippus on 12/31/2012 at 10:39 AM

Better yet, Yell, how about a few from gun hating newspapers that actually look at the bigotry of the anti gun folks and the insensibility of most of the gun laws proposed.

Why do Americans love guns? They’re part of our culture.
By Henry Allen, Published: December 25 Washington Post

Henry Allen, who won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2000, was a Post editor and reporter for 39 years.

Let me dust off my favorite Sufi parable.

A man loses a ring inside his house. A friend sees him crawling around outside and asks, “If you lost your ring in the house, why are you looking for it here?” “You fool,” says the man, “the light is much better out here.”

And so it goes with people looking for solutions to gun killings in America.

We’re talking about the very best people, the people with statistics and proposals for regulation, crawling around in the sunlight of their social-scientific rationality.

They never find a solution because all their legislation, academic studies, mathematical proofs, and proposals for waiting periods, background checks and buying limits aren’t going to do much more than they ever have.

Nor are the pleas of the progressives asking why anyone would ever want to own a gun — thereby demonstrating their arrogance toward the people who own the hundreds of millions of guns in the United States.

Both the problem and the solution lie elsewhere, in what historian Richard Hofstadter called “America as a Gun Culture.”

It started with New England Indians trying to drive out settlers in King Philip’s War, 1675-76. Some 5 percent to 10 percent of settler men of fighting age were killed. Laws soon required settlers to keep firearms in their homes.

The 1700s brought the “Kentucky rifle,” the long-range symbol of frontier independence. George Washington encouraged “the use of Hunting Shirts, with long Breeches made of the same Cloth . . . it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person a complete marksman.”

In the 19th century, Samuel Colt brought the gleaming modernity of mass production to gunmaking. The slogan had it that God created man and Samuel Colt made them equal. Cowboys carried Colts the way noblemen carried swords, as blazons of their status. Dime-novel writers invented the quick-draw duels that almost never happened.

The 20th century brought the dark romance of the gangster armed with Thompson submachine guns and private eyes with their snub-nosed .38s. World War II veterans brought home enemy guns as trophies of their victory. Then came the AK-47, weapon of choice against Western imperialists.

Hollywood employs armorers tuned to the tiniest details of gun fetishism. I’ve read that on “Miami Vice,” Don Johnson’s character was equipped with not an ordinary cop’s sidearm but a 10mm Dornaus & Dickson Bren Ten with hard-chrome slide on a stainless-steel frame. How alluring.

Guns get handed down through generations, symbols of patriarchy.

They’re symbols of protection of the home, the romance of industry, equality, cool daring, mean-street savvy, fighting for liberation and family tradition.

There are complications of class, too. Campaigns against “Saturday night specials” were campaigns against the arming of the lower classes. In 1941, a Florida Supreme Court justice wrote an opinion that a gun-control law had been “passed for the purpose of disarming the Negro laborers and. . . was never intended to be applied to the white population.”

Last week an analyst talked to an NPR talk-show host about “insurrectionist” gun owners — a rising of the masses against, presumably, some of the people who listen to NPR.

When elites talk about “armed rednecks” and “gun-toting trailer trash,” they may think their bigotry stays secret. It doesn’t. Those maligned Americans are aware that governing classes throughout history have sought a monopoly on violence, in the manner of the British redcoats trying to seize American guns at Concord, Mass.

Purveyors of guns rejoice whenever America is seized by gun-control crusades — they do little but drive up gun purchases by those who fear total confiscation.

The gun problem, however it’s defined, can’t be solved by statistical correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths, or by sneering at gun owners, or by lawmakers calling for more laws (which is, after all, what they do).

Instead, we need to look at America as a gun culture.

We might start with public pressure on the media and mass entertainment. We might stop catering to gun fetishism. We might increase the number of high school rifle teams, the dwindling of which, following calls for bans starting in the 1960s, has helped leave gun training to movies and video games. We might point out that the great names of American gunsmithing — Winchester, Colt, Smith and Wesson, and Remington — are now just brands bought and sold by corporations. U.S. pistols are so shoddy that our armed forces chose a pistol from Italy, the Beretta. Our police carry pistols from Austria and Germany.

We might think about the cultural effects of turning endless war — Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan — into a norm. And we should know that gun culture is founded on a small amount of facts and a large amount of romance.

Changing a culture is a lot harder than changing the law. But look at our cultural shifts on race and gender, on drunk driving and the cooling of the American love affair with the automobile. It takes a long time, and there are no guarantees, yet we might actually find the solution we’ve been looking for in all the wrong places.

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Posted by Steven E on 12/31/2012 at 12:23 PM

"In addition, the murder rate should really be plotted on that graph. It's been falling for decades even as firearms have become more available."

True, Gyl, but the rate of mass shootings has gone up.

Then there's this guy with a concealed carry permit in Oregon who "lost" his loaded, bullet in-the-chamber, safety off Baretta in a movie theater where it was found by some 7th graders.…

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Posted by the outlier on 12/31/2012 at 12:32 PM

Steven E

Why not look at other countries with low gun deaths?

Banning cigarette ads did nothing. Shunning glamorizing cigarettes in film and TV did nothing.

Jacking up the taxes on cigarettes and banning their use pretty much everywhere has smoking declining quickly.

For my anecdotal evidence of reduction in smoking is the disappearance of most cigarette litter. (I said MOST, there is still a bunch but it has plummetted.) (also smokers nonchalantly tossing cig butts out car windows in public has nearly stopped)
(now like other litterers, they do it when no one can see)

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Posted by Citizen1 on 12/31/2012 at 12:51 PM

Has it? Mass shootings are rare enough that it might be difficult to rule out bad luck with the amount of data available.

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Posted by Gylippus on 12/31/2012 at 12:55 PM

if only there wasn't a website that aggregated criminals being stopped by armed citizen's...
oh wait there is:…

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Posted by clay pigeon on 12/31/2012 at 1:21 PM

Sure, Citizen, you can look at gun deaths in other countries and be lead to think that guns are the problem. Thing is, when you look at crime in general, and in comparison to the US, we do a LOT better than most coutries, espcially those with low to non-existent death by firearm. JUST looking at firearm deaths is far too narrow.

There is a Harvard study that showed murder rates in coutries that have those magic low firearm deaths are as high, if not higher than the US. Canada has a higher incidence of rape than any of the European nations or the US.

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Posted by Steven E on 12/31/2012 at 2:39 PM

I'm going to re-post this one more time. It's yet to get a serious response:

What would constitute a "well-regulated" militia?

Those who claim to be protecting 2nd Amendment rights would define that as "no" regulations at all. It seems to me that the exact wording of the 2nd Amendment assumes that firearms will indeed be regulated. The debate shouldn't be about WHETHER firearms are regulated or not, but exactly HOW they will be regulated.


Why not have ownership/usage requirements similar to the ones we have for motor vehicles? Why would anyone have a problem with that? Training, testing, screening, licensing, registration, insurance. Wendell Griffin's not the first one to think of that parallel.

If you think that you need a firearm for personal protection, why would this be a problem?

If you want a firearm for hunting or other sporting use, why would this be a problem?

If you think you need a firearm to protect you from the government, you're simply being foolish. Even a Bushmaster AR-15's not going to be a protection from the military.

And I'm a gun owner.

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Posted by Perplexed on 12/31/2012 at 2:49 PM

Thank you, Perplexed. Gyl? Steven E? We're awaiting your answers. Why would any of those requirements be a problem. Just for fun, use of the phrase slippery slope will not be allowed in your answers. To be clear, no one is suggesting your guns be taken away....cold dead hands, outlaws with guns, good guy with gun.....blah blah blah. We've heard it. Reasonable questions on the table, waiting your reasonable answers.

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Posted by Yellowdogdaughter on 12/31/2012 at 3:39 PM

It would significantly inconvenience a bunch of people, turn lots more into criminals, be incredibly difficult to enforce, and would not do much to curb gun violence.

Kinda like all the mess everyone has to go through to get effective decongestants, buy painkillers, or to get on plane.

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Posted by Gylippus on 12/31/2012 at 6:46 PM

Gyl: "Kinda like all the mess everyone has to go through to get effective decongestants, buy painkillers, or to get on plane."

All of which, IMHO, are easily worth the lives of my fellow citizens and especially children.

As someone above said, as a justification for no gun control, it takes a long time to change a culture. I say let's get started now. The longer we wait, the more lives are lost.

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Posted by Perplexed on 12/31/2012 at 7:02 PM

Steven E and Gylippus are being eternal apologists for the greedy gun psychotics pushing more and more guns as the only solution.

There are gun psychotics and the greedy gun psychotics that prey upon their fears. Whatever group you belong to, more and more guns and gunbearers are not a solution, just an exacerbation of an intolerable situation. Yes, Steven you can try to warp the statistics, but if you live in a country with few weapons and cartridges in the general populace the gun deaths and gun massacres decrease.

Yes, Steven E and Gylippus, I am frightened too, but I do not take council of my fears with some irrational romantic image of myself or someone else pulling a gun and killing the bad guys. I learned a long time ago that pulling a gun will get you quickly and certainly shot at and that 'Dirty Harry' etc al. accuracy is always a Hollywood illusion.

It will take decades, if not centuries to reduce the proliferation of handguns and assault weapons foisted by the greedy immoral gun psychotics using the NRA and idiot gun psychotics fears. However, nothing will reduce the danger of this intolerable situation, but reducing handguns and assault weapons in circulation.

"Handguns," I know you all grasp the definition, even if you are a card carrying NRA gun psychotic. "Assault weapons" are any guns designed or modified to kill and injure human beings with a magazine and chamber capacity of over three cartridges. I have no problem outlawing purchase of these weapons by private citizens, but Steven E and his fellows will eternally scream 2nd amendment. So here's a thought, place a value added tax on all handguns and assault weapons sales and resales of $1,500 to $2,000 per annum paid directly to the Treasury Department to apply solely against the existing national debt.

Surely, members of a "well-regulated militia" would have their militia weapons purchased by the regulating authority (branch of OUR government) and those confident of their skills as 'Dirty Harry, Jr.' and fearing their safety will certainly pay to "protect" their safety.
However, both the gun psychotics and greedy gun psychotics who prey upon them will protest and obfuscate movement toward any saner solutions of fewer guns and cartridges, ignoring the reality that nations without the numbers of guns and cartridges per inhabitant don't have our problems.

Sooner or later one of our gun psychotics, with a carry permit, will pull a weapon to end a dangerous situation with his/her 'Dirty Harry' skills and start a fusillade of gunfire by the bad guys, the concealed-carrying victims, and the armed peace officers in uniform and plainclothes. The real victims will be the innocent unarmed bystanders who will be shot and some killed merely by moving or trying to take cover in this insane situation. Then maybe, the gun psychotics will think, but based upon their past and (with a nod to Steven E) their culture, probably not.

No matter what happens, someday it will get so bad that the proliferation of guns will stop and the quantities and cartridges in the general populace shrink.

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Posted by dottholliday on 12/31/2012 at 7:23 PM

"Mass shootings are rare enough that it might be difficult to rule out bad luck with the amount of data available."

Gly, since you think we can just live with these isolated mass killings, care to suggest where the next one ought to be. Any kids or grandkids that need some press attention? Or, is that only something for someone else to worry about?

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Posted by couldn't be better on 12/31/2012 at 8:21 PM

"So here's a thought, place a value added tax on all handguns and assault weapons sales and resales of $1,500 to $2,000 per annum paid directly to the Treasury Department to apply solely against the existing national debt."

Please, please, please get this passed somewhere.

The lawsuit that gets it overturned would go far in securing gun rights.

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Posted by Gylippus on 12/31/2012 at 11:29 PM

How about requiring insurance on each and every gun, to cover liability for the damages caused by guns? That, along with requiring manufacturers and dealers to pay into a fund that helps to pay for damages.

After all, we are ALL paying for the damages caused by guns now, each and every one of us, through our taxes that pay for law enforcement, health care, and other costs, along with businesses that lose business because of guns.

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Posted by rablib on 01/01/2013 at 1:44 AM

It would be completely unenforceable. 15%-20% of drivers lack car insurance and firearms are a tiny bit easier to hide than automobiles.

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Posted by Gylippus on 01/01/2013 at 8:44 AM

Yellow, if perplexed were being honest, maybe it would be easier to answer the question. But his ridiculous and idiotic notion that gun owners are against any regulation already shows a decided bias against the truth. Not only that, but his emphasis on the 'well regulated' part as if it meant the weapons were to be 'well regulated". Talk about lawyer-speak.

The militia is supposed to be well regulated, and if anybody here had ever been honest enough to know the English language of the time, well-regulated would mean well trained, which is something I actually favor. But the Founders had made it pretty clear in their writings that the militia were the People, the individuals. The LAST things any of them wanted was fr the people to be beholding to the State for protection, or to be disarmed of a means of defense from any enemy.

Perplexed, simply put, having a car is not a right, being able to defend yourself IS a specified right. That, is why. Now, if Griffin were serious, he would make it so that, after all the licensing, we could carry, open or concealed, anywhere. But, like many here, including the clearly frothing loon, Dott, he is not serious.

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Posted by Steven E on 01/01/2013 at 10:39 AM

Steven, your answer is non-responsive. To take your definition of "well-regulated" would mean that all firearms holders should be a part of a formal militia, i.e. the National Guard. My suggestion toward "regulating" arms holders is actually much less drastic and much more reasonable. Training, testing, screening, licensing, registration, insurance.

And I resent you calling me dishonest.

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Posted by Perplexed on 01/01/2013 at 3:21 PM

Who cares if you resent being called dishonest, especially when your being...dishonest.

If you were being honest, you would have read what I said, instead of furthering assinine assumptions. All firearms owners should be 'well regulated' as in trained and proficient. I did NOT state anywhere that they belong to any organization.

That is your folly.

I might take your suggestions mildly serious if you were not trying to demonize a particular weapon based on color or magazine capacity. I do share your desire to see firearms holders better trained. If we had the training, then we should be allowed to cary however and wherever we can. As for insurance, screw that. Firearms owners already pay insurance on their property when they disclose they have firearms. I did mine, but then if a firearm is stolen, insurance will cover that, so the savvy firearms owner pays his bit.

Don't be resentful, be honest.

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Posted by Steven E on 01/03/2013 at 2:16 PM

It is not open to debate, it is not a "Theory", it is proven fact.

This is a quote from Wiki "Switzerland thus has one of the highest militia gun ownership rates in the world" as they don't have a standing Army.

Guess what the gun crime rate is in Switzerland?

Guess what causes gun crime in America? That's right, poor training and hybrid gun policies. Either you allow them openly or you don't. If everyone is beleived to own a firearm in their home, crime drops as proven by the states allowing open carry with high ownership rates showing decreased crime.

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Posted by Dan Troy on 01/08/2013 at 9:19 AM
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