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Megan McCardle Writes Sandy Hook Op-Ed Based on Return Of The Jedi...

...She says the children should have been taught to rush the gunmen.  Pure Ewok tactics.

Read the full article at

As much as I have criticized McArdle in the past, this is probably the second most relevant piece I have read on these issues since Friday - the first being the Jeffrey Goldberg piece she links to.  I have been reading the discussion here at Dag and have to say that, thus far, I've found it uncharacteristically ignorant and disappointingly rote.  Much was said in that article that was relevant.  You mock the notion of active shooter drills, even though lockdown tactics have completely failed.  Lanza triple-tapped everyone.  No one survived playing dead.  How would students possibly have been made worse off by fighting back, or attempting to flee at the very least?  Is there some sort of liberal allergy to self-defense of any kind, even unarmed?  I just can't understand some of the things I'm reading, especially from people that I generally revere for their commentary.

So far, the popular liberal response seems to be to renew the FAWB, which would have done nothing to prevent incidents like the Virginia Tech or Columbine shootings and little to alter the events of Tucson, Aurora and Newton.  The CDC and NRC both concluded that there was no evidence the FAWB had a significant impact on violent crime.

I'm almost sorry to have to type these words, but McArdle is right in this case.  Nothing will change precisely because of the rote, inept and hyper-partisan response to incidents like this.

I don't agree that McArdle's is a good piece, but you do seem to be pointing out that if what is said by non-gun owners about gun ownership doesn't convince gun owners to give up their guns, progress will be very slow indeed. And that is true.

FWIW, one girl does seem to have survived by playing dead.

It may also be true that in these days of multiple bullets, an effective strategy (at least in theory) for survival is to provide even more targets. But trying to prepare children for such an act would be so traumatic that it's hard to imagine it working. 

In terms of thinking about the unthinkable, it might be effective to look at ways of encouraging mass shooters to kill themselves more quickly. If Morgan Freeman is right and these events arise from a wish to "go out in a blaze of glory" rather than be caught and imprisoned, we could consider panic buttons that automatically summon police, recordings played over the PA that would give the impression that police are already there, etc. (Hey, I'd be willing to consider releasing ball bearings in the hallway to impede a shooter's progress if I thought it would work.)

At the end of the day, we need gun owners to change their thinking about who their enemies are. And that is going to take some work.

Mass shooters kill themselves when someone else with a gun shows up.  This is something else I find frustrating.  No one, not even the most ardent anti-gun lib is really anti-gun.  At least not unless you're talking about disarming the cops, too.  Cops aren't imbued with magical powers.  They have some guns and some training, but they shoot innocent people (and themselves) more often than civilians who carry daily.

Guns underpin our whole society.  That's the truth.  It's how we enforce our laws, full stop.  As long as you support that reality, you can't really call yourself anti-gun.

So, even those claiming to be anti-gun, which really means they don't personally want to own one and don't think anyone but a cop should have one, are still reliant on cops to show up and save the day.  Why anyone would think this is a viable response to school massacres is beyond me.  Unless there is an armed officer stationed at the school or happening by on chance alone, everyone there is defenseless against a gunman and known to be so.

When someone with a gun shows up, whether it's a cop or a civilian, these guys either give up or kill themselves.  A civilian who was carrying concealed pulled a gun during the mall shooting in Oregon.  Though he didn't fire, the next shot taken by the gunman was to claim his own life.

Self-defense is about matching force with force.  If you can't do that, you'll be helpless until someone who can shows up, full stop.  Shooters target schools because they know people there aren't armed.  Is it mere coincidence that James Holmes chose to drive a theater with an explicit ban on guns, unlike some of the theaters closer to him?

Also, like most chain-letter quotes on the Internet, Morgan Freeman did not actually say that stuff, though we all read it in his voice.

Poor Morgan Freeman! First he's not dead, then he didn't say the stuff they said he said. 

Regardless of the source, the idea does seem to be about right--the shooter depends on nobody else having a gun, an uncomfortable aspect of the anti-gun viewpoint. In that sense, the "gun-free zones" are more bravado than anything else. But again, perhaps important as a moral statement.

I doubt the parents of the dead children in Newtown care much about the moral statement of "gun-free zones" right now.  It was anything but gun-free on Friday.

In 1997, a legally armed administrator apprehended a shooter at Corinth High School in MA.  The student was attempting to head to the nearby junior high to continue his spree.  Since the school was a gun-free zone, he had to run to his car which he had parked the legally required distance from the school.  Even so, he was able to respond before the police without any further bloodshed.

I want to hear someone say something about what we're going to do next time this happens. What's the plan?  Wait for the cops?  Anyone have any better advice to give kids and teachers than hide and wait to get shot?

Shootings like this occur where shooters know there won't be armed response and they stop once there is an armed response.  No solution that fails to recognize this fact will work.  Lockdowns have not worked.  What works is armed resistance.  That's an uncomfortable fact, but a fact nonetheless.

Here's a piece written by a cop who struggled with finding answers to these questions in the wake of Columbine.  Sadly, we discuss none of this stuff.  Instead, we have the same pointless, rote debate about marginal changes to gun control laws that we've already tried.  How did that work out in Newtown?

I'm sure those parents don't care about it right now--they've got other things to worry about.

Thinking, again, in terms of the larger picture, schools are primarily places where kids go to learn--and educators are trying to build kids who don't solve their problems with violence. Chicken...egg....

I don't really understand this, DF. Establishing bold laws requires what you're calling "hyper-partisanship"--mad-as-hell people demanding change. And cynical as it may be, most gun control laws have been drawn in reaction to tragic shootings.

Eliminating homicides is a fool's quest, of course, but that's not the objective. The objective is to reduce them. Lanza killed kids until the cops arrived. Then he shot himself. Smaller magazines would not have prevented his shooting spree, but there were would have been fewer deaths. That seems warrant enough to me.

More to the point, the next mass-murder will not be Lanza. That murderer will employ the tools at his disposal to kill as many as he can. If there are reasonable ways to restrict the tools at his disposal, we should employ them--regardless of any Lanza counterfactuals. And if the tragedy of Newton upsets people enough to finally pass some of those laws--or even to talk about passing them--we should not cynically slam the door just because we cannot hope to eradicate gun violence.

As I note in the piece I just posted, extended mags and "high-powered" weapons aren't even a key feature of these shootings.  They're convenient, but the highest body count in American shooting spree history goes to a guy with a Glock 19, a Walther P22 and a buttload of 10 round magazines, which would be completely legal under the new proposed AWB.  They're legal in CA right now, where have the #1 gun control regime in the nation according to the Brady campaign.

Seriously, these arguments aren't even marshaling the facts.  Please, read my piece describing the California regime.  Any new regime has to be better and can only be better by being better informed about how guns actually work and are used to kill.

Think about that.  What Feinstein is putting back on the table would have done absolutely nothing to prevent Virginia Tech, the most deadly shooting in American history.  It might potentially take one gun out of the hands of Lanza or Holmes.  I call that "hyper-partisan" because it is.  It's not a response to this massacre or about the prevention of future massacres.  It's about a knee-jerk reaction to ban weapons that liberals already wanted to ban.  Unfortunately, since they apparently know little about guns, they ban weapons based not on their capability, but on their stylings.  This does nothing to keep firepower out of the hands of those who would use it against innocent people, but it sure confirms what many gun owners believe about what they call the "antis."

It doesn't even rise to the level of fighting the next war.  It's just bad and sad all around.  We need real answers to this stuff.

Watch out, DF, you may be accused of being cold hearted by trying to get to the facts  on what kind of measures would help against rampage shootings. Some don't want to hear it right now, they just want them some/any kinda gun control now, whether it's half-assed or not, an eye for an eye, you're either with the terrorists or against them.....

I'm banking on some people here being able to calm down, face some hard facts and think about what we can actually do to protect innocent people, especially children.  We have these laws in California already.  They're completely ineffective and wouldn't materially address any of the worst case scenarios.  I want real answers.

You're conflating two points here. One is the inability of current gun control laws and existing proposals to make any difference whatsoever. I confess that I don't know much about it, and I very much appreciate your informed critique.

The other is the appropriateness of current proposals to past events. On that, what I'm telling you is that it does not matter. If a ban on high-capacity magazines is likely to help reduce the potential death toll from future killers, then we should ban them, regardless of whether it would have made zero difference at Virginia Tech or some difference in Newton (How many lives, 1? 2? 3?). If not, if such a law can do nothing to reduce future massacres, then see point one. But if it can, then I see no problem with harnessing the anger engendered by the Newton massacre to get it done.

I would think the problem here would be obvious.  Determined mass murderers will simply use what weapons are available.  The technical gotchas that libs seem to think matter with guns haven't mattered at all.  You say let's just do it anyway because it might help, even though there's no evidence it helped in the past (we had just such a regime in place when Columbine and other mass shootings occurred).  This is called magical thinking.

Meanwhile, all of the air is sucked out of the room in support of a symbolic law that won't prevent the next shooting.  I want to prevent the next one.  Do people care about that, or do they just want to enforce their normative preferences regardless of the relevant facts?

I want to prevent the next one.

So what possible law could be put into the effect that could stop someone like 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer, who fired at children in a school playground at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California on 29 January 1979, killing two adults and injuring eight children and one police officer.  She wasn't even on school grounds. 

Isn't really the quest to find comprehensive solution that sucks the air out of the room, and lets people like McCardle side-step addressing doable legislation because it won't prevent these attacks.

I can't comprehend the meaning of your final sentence.  Re-instating the AWB won't prevent mass shootings.  It didn't prevent them before.  If you care about doing something that might prevent the next one, then re-instating laws that weren't even found to have a significant effect on violent crime, much less mass shootings, is fairly pointless, don't you think?  That's the "air" in the "room."

What is the point, exactly, of this "do-able" legislation?  This is the reality I'm trying to get some of you to recognize.  Passing gun control laws that don't work in the wake of a tragedy they wouldn't have prevented is exactly what conservative gun owners always claim to fear from liberal politicians and their supporters.  What, exactly, is the point of proving them right?  What is gained, especially when proposed legislation won't pass the House, but is already fueling panic buying?

Again, what's the goal here?  Not stopping mass shootings.  Not proving that the liberal view on guns is reality-based.

The detachment from reality when it comes to guns is decisively "illiberal" to me, regardless of whether you hate or love guns.  Liberals usually have the claim to the "reality-based" view, but not on this issue.  It's all "ought" and no "is."

Facts don't cease to exist because they are ignored.  Preventing the next mass shooting requires an attention to the facts that is consistently absent in the wake of these events.  This time appears to be no different.  My guess is the next group of kids will have similar or worse odds thanks to our lack of meaningful response, which is practically guaranteed at this point.

If finding an answer that actually works instead of acting like the bill Feinstein was already working on is a direct solution to this problem is "sucking the air out of the room," then I'm probably in the wrong room.

Saying you can prevent the next mass shooting through legislation is not realistic.  Wha is realistic is claiming you can 1) potentially decrease the likelihood of a mass shooting, and 2) potentially decrease the number of victims should one occur.  So as long as people don't make the claim that it will prevent such occurances, then no one is proving the conservatives right. 

One point to consider.  If a piece of legislation (whether from gun regulation, mental health services, etc) does prevent a mass shooting, it is likely we never know.  Like this shooter, he tried to get a gun himself, but couldn't.  Had his mother not had guns, it is possible that the moment where he would carry out the action could have passed.  He wouldn't then tell people what he had intended to do.  No one would know the waiting period in this particular case  prevented a mass shooting. 

Who knows how many mass shootings have been thwarted in such a manner. 

Another point to consider.  Gun control regulation isn't just about mass shootings.  It is about decreasing gun violence and the victims it creates.  If we can decrease the deaths from 12 per 100,000 down to 10 per 100,000, that is a lot of lives. 

There is still considerable resistance to gun control out there in the public.  The House is still controlled by the Republicans on a national level. 

Well, assuming that Adam Lanza was a determined mass murderer, yes, I would have appreciated it if his access was to somewhat less sophisticated weapons. And I don't think that's magical thinking.

Wishing it is precisely magical thinking.  How do we actually see that this happens?  Recycling the AWB is not an answer.  How do we minimize the destructive power of potential mass murderers?  I'd take this a lot more seriously if someone was proposing a ban on, say, all handguns or all semi-automatic rifles.

I don't see how this can even be argued.  We have concrete examples that can't be denied.  These aren't counter-factuals.  The Virginia Tech shooter did far more damage without extended mags or rifles than any other shooter.  Pistols are the most common weapon in these cases, with the Glock probably being the top choice.  More broadly, these choices largely affect weapon popularity and availability, which non-shooters seem to mistake as statements about the marginal effectiveness of a particular firearm versus comparable options.

In reality, most any gun will do, especially if it is semi-automatic and has detachable magazines.  Shooters will substitute with whatever is available.  Charles Whittman didn't have a scary black rifle.  Most mass shooters don't.

I don't think you can prevent the next one. There's always a next one. 

Then what is the point of advocating a particular type of weapons ban that has already been tried without any significant reduction in violent crime, that also cannot pass the House until 2015 at the earliest, other than to confirm right-wing prejudices and spur panic buying?

Determined mass murderers will simply use what weapons are available.

I entirely agree. So let's reduce the lethality of available weapons if we can.

You say let's just do it anyway because it might help...

No, I said let's do it if we have reason to believe that it will help. Note the conditional.

...even though there's no evidence it helped in the past.

I do not take you as having established that. You have argued that a high-capacity magazine ban would not have helped in Virginia Tech and Columbine and would have only somewhat helped in Tucson and Newton. As far as I understand it, we don't currently have any laws against high-capacity magazines, so assessing its past effectiveness is difficult, but I think the relevant question is: how many people have died because high-capacity magazines. I do not know the answer.

That said, all this misses the point. I buy your argument the assault weapon ban has not been effective and that a high-capacity magazine would have limited effectiveness. The appropriate reaction, it seems to me, is to seek better gun control legislation rather than bash liberals for having the audacity to the propose gun control in response to horrific gun violence.

Check what the CDC and NRC said about the AWB.  I would love to see any reputable study of the AWB that indicates that it resulted in significant reduction in violent crime.  I've looked.  The fact is that even the FBI says that "assault weapons" are used in less than 2% of gun crime.

I'm trying to get people to think about gun control that might actually work instead of recycling failed laws.  We have these laws in CA.  They are effectively meaningless.  I'm not bashing liberals for having the audacity to propose gun control.  I'm taking them to task for remaining willfully ignorant of the facts surrounding guns and gun-related crimes.  Passing the old laws again is not brave new gun control.  It's simply rote.

Write a better gun law.  Write one that actually might mitigate the destructive power of a mass shooter.  Or pass the old law in the Senate and watch the rifles fly off the shelves.  Meanwhile, how do we protect the next targets?  What's the plan for that?

I'm not advocating, repeat, not advocating the AWB. How many times must I concede before you accept the concession?

I'm not sure about the effectiveness of banning high-capacity magazines, but I do agree that it's insufficient to stop mass shootings.

But I do think that "having a conversation about gun control," as people so blandly put it, is the right response to Newton.

On that note, how about a commission to regulate guns and ammunition rather than legislation to prohibit them, something like an FDA for lethal weapons (not to be confused with the ATF, which is strictly enforcement). Such a commission would be more responsive than clumsy regulation. It could evaluate effectiveness and adjust for new models. Also, I'm sure that it would be very popular with conservatives. ;)

I'm sure they would love it!

Look, I'm not trying to pin your for supporting the AWB when you don't.  In your last statement, it sounded like you were basically saying we should do it anyway because high-cap mags might be dangerous on the margin.  I think the evidence on that is speculative, though I don't really have a problem with 10-round magazines.  To me, the point is this: if you really believe that high-cap mags severely multiply lethal force, then you want to pass a law that actually regulates them.  I tried to describe my first-hand experiences with how these laws have failed in California.  It doesn't matter that they're "illegal" here.  They're not illegal to possess and easy to obtain, full stop.  I don't want to see the left push more ineffective laws here, partially because I think it alienates people who are already suspicious about "gun grabbing" and reactionary gun laws.

I'm for gun laws that can work.  The point of my latest post is to detail some ways in which they've failed.  Again, that would seem to be of materially interest to people who actually want to curb gun violence as opposed to just pass placebo laws.

California supposedly had such a process for updating its assault weapon blacklist, but it just can't be updated fast enough.  One lesson here is that blacklists, especially where the law requires the specification of both make and model, are too difficult to maintain.

For reasons I'm not entirely sure of, California has a whitelist for handguns.  This means that all new weapons have to be on the approved list before they can be sold, rather than requiring that the list is updated for every new model that doesn't meet criteria.  For instance, the latest Glock is currently not legal for sale in California.  It probably will be made legal eventually, but it's new so it's not on the list.  You can still buy one of the first three generations.

This is a much better law for two reasons: it allows the government the necessary time to maintain an effective list and it doesn't piss off shooters as much because it doesn't seem so arbitrary.  Banning the AR receiver but not the Ruger makes no sense to anyone who understands guns.  It only makes sense to people who think black rifles are scarier because they're not made of wood.

That might not matter to you or a lot of people who would like stricter gun control, but it has a decidedly negative affect on the perception of these laws by law-abiding gun owners.  Given that we're talking about almost half the country in a nation that's practically split down the middle on any issue you can name, it should be of concern that we might be creating laws that not only fail to increase safety, but also diminish the prospect of passing effective gun laws in the future.

And then there's the placebo effect of just doing something to do something.  That lets people off the hook for doing something that might actually prevent this from happening again.

Regulating ammunition is a potential option, though it's going to come down to the specifics.  One hurdle here is that it's not difficult to learn how to reload ammunition, especially shotgun shells.  It's definitely easier to fabricate than a gun, although 3D printing is changing that.

Are people 3D-printing guns? What are they made of?

"Whitelisting" is what I had in mind. That's basically what the FDA does for drugs. We can't do it federally right now but maybe we can expand the states that do. And if enough states do it, manufacturers would have less incentive to produce non-approved guns.

I'm not so worried about fabrication. We're never going to eliminate homicide, but we can hopefully reduce it by making it harder to do. The question is how hard it has to be to make a difference.

Yes, they are.  AR-15 lower made of plastic in this video.  It only survives a few shots, but that's enough to kill.

I think fabrication is primarily a concern with regard for weapons being sold on the black market.  Especially when it comes to weapons used in crime, disposable, untraceable guns would be very desirable.

McArdle wrote: "I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once ..." 


Really?  Teach 6 year olds to rush TOWARDS a shooter with an assault rifle? 

Really?  6 year olds?!   Then let your 6 year old lead the way,

That is probably the single most ridiculous thing ever proposed on this subject.


Fleeing is the best option, but failing that it's hard to see why fighting back is any worse than attempting to hide in a faulty lockdown or playing dead.  Those are last resorts.

Think about this. How would you prevent pileups at the doors?

I'm saying that based on what I've read of these incidents and what law enforcement has tried to determine in how best to protect students.  I think this is the wrong question for that reason.  There haven't been students piling up at doors.  By and large, the students who can flee survive.  Conversely, the students who pile up in lockdowns end up getting shot up like proverbial fish in the barrel.  To me, that means the question is why we keep banking on lockdowns when they keep failing the test.  Lanza went right through the security measures in Newtown.

I think we ought to be giving advice that gives the best chance of survival.  I don't think you do that by basing it on what-ifs.  I think you do that by examining what we know about how these events typically transpire.  In almost every event of this nature, hiding has been a death sentence.

It is only hard to see because you're bending so far over to avoid the obvious that your head is in no position to see anything clearly.  


Thanks for your contribution.  It's all so clear now.

You're welcome. Glad to be of service.

DF, the fact is this, two women ran at the gunman in Connecticut and they are dead. Running at a gunman is a death sentence and a fantasy that piling on someone with a gun is somehow going to stop them.

McArdle is a true idiot, she is obviously a person who has never been around anyone with an actual gun.

There is a tyranny here with the gun nut crowd, one that is keeping us captive. And because of this 20 babies are dead and 7 adults.

McArdle is wrong, entirely, completely, totally wrong and to top that off she is as dumb as a rock.  Has she ever been scared because some drunken ass has pulled his gun on a bunch of people? Not likely reading that blog of idiocy. Being from Montana I've seen this countless times, drunken fools displaying their weapons when they are drunk,  playing with it like it is some toy, and these are people who have all taken the NRA gun safety training, and in some cases have taught those classes. So they are well trained, they shoot with accuracy.

There are no simple solutions, because too many people believe they might need their guns to take on our legally elected government. Legally elected, let's ponder that for a moment, legally elected. But no one has seriously taken on the federal government with weapons since 1860. So with all the mythology of guns saving us from an oppressive government, the only people who we end up killing is each other, that is the sad fact, we just end up killing each other.

What is the ultimate solution? Australia of course, a thriving democracy big rules for gun ownership.

Firearms in Australia are grouped into Categories with different levels of control. The categories are:

  • Category B: Centrefire rifles (not semi-automatic), muzzleloading firearms made after 1 January 1901. Apart from a "Genuine Reason", a "Genuine Need" must be demonstrated, including why a Category A firearm would not be suitable.
  • Category C: Semi-automatic rimfire rifles holding 10 or fewer rounds and pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding 5 or fewer rounds. Category C firearms are strongly restricted: only primary producers, occupational shooters, collectors and some clay target shooters can own functional Category C firearms.
  • Category D: Semi-automatic centrefire rifles, pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding more than 5 rounds. Functional Category D firearms are restricted to government agencies and a few occupational shooters. Collectors may own deactivated Category D firearms.
  • Category H: Handguns including air pistols and deactivated handguns. This class is available to target shooters. To be eligible for a Category H firearm, a target shooter must serve a probationary period of six months using club handguns, and a minimum number of matches yearly to retain each category of handgun.
Target shooters are limited to handguns of .38 or 9mm calibre or less and magazines may hold a maximum of 10 rounds. Participants in certain "approved" pistol competitions may acquire handguns up to .45", currently Single Action Shooting and Metallic Silhouette. IPSC shooting is approved for 9mm/.38/.357 handguns that meet the IPSC rules, but larger calibers are not approved for IPSC handgun shooting contests. Category H barrels must be at least 100mm (3.94") long for revolvers, and 120mm (4.72") for semi-automatic pistols unless the pistols are clearly ISSF target pistols: magazines are restricted to 10 rounds. Handguns held as part of a collection were exempted from these limits.

These are adequate regulations. What is the height of ridiculousness is the idea of training our children to run right at the human being who is firing a weapon, that is a death sentence as proven by the latest episode in Connecticut.

Cool - Charge of the Light Brigade, Battle of the Somme and Gallipoli all rolled into one.

America's next Lost Generation will be a bunch of pre-schoolers. How you gonna keep them down in kindergarten once they've seen gay Paree a killing spree?

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