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    You Don't Need a Gun: Mass Shooters

    The shootings in Isla Vista have left me too angry to blog. But now we have yet another shooter on a college campus, at Seattle Pacific. Fortunately, this murderer was stopped after killing one and wounding three. And he was stopped in the way the gun-rights community says he can never be stopped: he was stopped without a gun.

    If you'll forgive me repeating parts of a blog post from two years ago, written after another of our endless repeated mass murders:

    if you are attacked by a shooter in a public place, and if you ever get a chance to stop the shooter by force, you will get that chance when the shooter stops to reload.
    You are not guaranteed to get that chance, or any chance.

    Tonight, thank God, the Seattle Pacific shooter was tackled by a student security monitor when the gunman paused to reload his shotgun. [I salute that brave person, and hope the press finally covers the hero of the day instead of the murderous failure of a villain.] If the gunman had used a gun with a larger clip, such as a Bushmaster, he would have been able to shoot many more people before he was vulnerable.

    Why does this matter? Because:

    If you did get a chance to attack the shooter, in that moment when he needs to reload, you would not need a gun to stop him. When he is temporarily unable to fire, he can be attacked with bare hands or hit with anything handy. And there are documented incidents where shooters have been stopped, and further killing prevented, in exactly this way.

    On the other hand, if you happened to have a handgun on your person when the shooting started, it still wouldn't help much until the shooter had to reload. Most mass shooters are using semi- or fully-automatic weapons with a high rate of fire, designed to provide suppressing fire that makes it hard for anybody to fire back.

    Now, the NRA fans will tell you, every single time one of these shooting happen, that "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." But this is clearly not true. In fact, it's the opposite of the truth.

    You do NOT need a "good guy with a gun," to stop a mass shooter. More than one mass shooter has been stopped by good people who were totally unarmed. There are real cases we can point to, and another, thank God, tonight.

    And if by, "a good guy with a gun" you mean, as gun-rights advocates usually mean, an armed bystander with a gun, that is completely wrong. I can't think of a single mass shooter who has been stopped by a random civilian with a gun.

    Shooting incidents like this end in three ways:

    1. The police kill the gunman.
    2. The gunman kills himself when the police have him cornered.
    3. Unarmed bystanders rush the gunman when he reloads.

    The police don't count as "good guys with guns" in the discussion over gun rights and gun control, because no one in America advocates disarming the police. So when the NRA/open-carry/Second-Amendment-absolutist crowd talks about the need for more guns, they are talking about something that never happens. Private citizens who happen to be carrying a gun do not stop mass shooters.

    So, the gun-rights crowd demand that everyone have guns to stop this violence that everyone having guns has never, ever stopped. On the other hand, their insistence that everyone have untrammeled access to serious firearms means that mass shooters do have guns. We need to let emotionally-troubled criminals amass the firearms they need to massacre people, so that it will remain hypothetically possible that someone, somewhere, at some time might possibly use a gun to cut a senseless gun massacre short, although that has not happened so far.

    That's the logic, if you can call it that. Keep gun laws loose, no matter how many lunatics use them for mass murder, so that private citizens with guns can continue to not stop those mass murders. It's hard to imagine a worse plan than that.



    Just for clarity sake, the student monitor did use pepper spray on the gun man before he was subdued.  But this doesn't change your basic argument.  He didn't have to be armed with a lethal weapon, merely something that enabled him to more easily subdue the gunman. 

    Maybe the answer is looking toward controlling specific gun types (e.g. Bushmaster with the larger clip) , and finding the different terminology to capture this more targeted effort (pardon the pun), a tactic well-known to conservatives.  One of my favorites is their efforts to switch global warming to climate change because it didn't change so ominous as global warming, which I think kind of backfired, because given the weather impacts (e.g. colder and harsher winters), climate change actually better reflects the experiences of real people than the more scientifically accurate term global warming.

    "Gun control" legislation aimed at limiting the clip size available or guns able to be easily turn from semi-automatic to automatic weapons sounds like you are attempting to control all guns, and more importantly, the ability of people to possess guns.

    I'm pretty sure that climatologists were the ones behind the change of terminology from "global warming" to "climate change" exactly because it better reflects the extent of what is happening. Many conservatives have mocked that change in terminology because they misinterpret it (probably deliberately, but I can't completely rule out stupidity) to mean that scientists have changed their mind about whether global warming is happening. Furthermore, unfortunately, a study recently found that the general public reacts with more alarm to the term "global warming" than to "climate change".

    Otherwise, I'm in completely agreement.

    From an Think Progress: That latter switch was championed by the GOP’s spinmaster, Frank Luntz, who, as it turns out, also championed switching from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ in 2003.

    I just remember listening to an interview on NPR with Frank Luntz about that time when he mentioned his push to get the GOP to use the term 'global warming.'

    It's a sure sign that scientists (such as myself) are so out of touch with the general public when we're advocating for the same term that the GOP's premiere spin-meister is.

    His particular stance in all of this is interesting: from Wiki:

    Although Luntz later tried to distance himself from the Bush administration policy, it was his idea that administration communications reframe "global warming" as "climate change" since "climate change" was thought to sound less severe.[16] Luntz has since said that he is not responsible for what the Bush administration did after that time. Though he now believes humans have contributed to global warming, he maintains that the science was in fact incomplete, and his recommendation sound, at the time he made it.[17]

    In a 2002 memo to President George W. Bush titled "The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America", obtained by the Environmental Working Group, Luntz wrote: "The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.... Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field."[18]

    In 2010, Luntz announced new research that shows the American people are eager for Congress to act on climate legislation that would promote energy independence and a healthier environment. "Americans want their leaders to act on climate change – but not necessarily for the reasons you think," Luntz said. "A clear majority of Americans believe climate change is happening. This is true of McCain voters and Obama voters alike. And even those that don't still believe it is essential for America to pursue policies that promote energy independence and a cleaner, healthier environment." In reference to recent political events, Luntz added: "People are much more interested in seeing solutions than watching yet another partisan political argument."

    I don't think Republicans like Luntz any more. He is too sensible. I never liked the way he manipulated their terrible policies with "framing" words to make them sound more palatable to the GOP bad, but the guy is no dummy. 

    I am very angry too.  I spent the evening writing emails to elected officials that represent me.  I made it clear to them that I would not vote for any of them if they did not support tougher gun regulations.  I also told them I would work hard to defeat any of them in the next election if they did not act to move forward tougher regulations.  That our fore fathers would never had allowed mass murder of citizens the price for the freedom of individuals to own weapons of war. I told them I was fed up with individuals walking around intimidating people in public spaces with weapons of war just to prove they can.  I will not be intimidated by being call unpatriotic because I have a DD214 registered at the courthouse that says different. I was beyond tolerating this in our society and have reached the point of extreme anger that will not go away as the killings continue.

    Every week I get an email from Allen Grayson. I am not in his district but he feels he represents all of Florida.  I also get emails not as often from Debbie W-Sultze and a few others out side my district in this state.  I made sure last night they all heard from me.

    If you want the system to work for you, you have to work the system.  

    This may reflect the situation in the United States, but in Israel gunmen have been stopped many times by armed civilians.

    And, of course, trained police officers and soldiers who have had combat experience find that their reasoning and sharpshooting abilities are definitely affected by the heightened circumstances around a fight to the death.  Everybody knows police officers who finish entire careers without ever firing a shot and if you are not a police officer, your chances of never having to use that self defense weapon you're carrying has got to be higher (unless, as sadly seems the case, you're one of those people who carries a gun and also tries to get themselves into situations where it will be used.)  For the civilian, even one who practices a lot, the circumstance where you will draw your gun to defend yourself or others is going to come out of the blue, at totally the wrong moment, when you have your keys in one hand, two bags of groceries dangling from the other, the sun is in your eyes and you're trying to figure out how the electric bill could be $40 higher and it isn't even summer yet.  In short, you'll shoot your eye out.


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