Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Dec/12

21

Umm . . . we didn’t mean THAT kind of gun control

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You gotta love the NRA.  Anyone who was expecting Vice President Wayne LaPierre to break the NRA’s week-long silence after the Newtown massacre with an olive branch and some sensible proposals regarding better background checks, say, or restrictions on high-capacity ammo clips didn’t know his man.  The idea of putting an armed guard in every elementary school in the country strikes me as utter lunacy (sadly, lunacy already embraced by 20 percent of elementary schools and one third of all public schools generally, reports the New York Times).  But no one is more responsible for laying the predicate for LaPierre’s proposal than the gun control Left.   The Left (including the media: see, especially, NPR) has been hawking the notion that the Newtown school shootings represent a widespread threat in order to advance its own agenda.  It can not now protest that LaPierre’s idea is a ludicrous overreaction to an extraordinarily rare, horrific event with no precedent.  (And in fact some gun control advocates have decided that there is more advantage to be had in backing the schools-need-armed-guards idea than in demolishing it.)  So now both sides are staring at each other across a common false conceit, even as more school districts have already begun arming up and police departments have announced plans to patrol schools in another eruption of probability-free thinking.  For the moment, there may in fact be an elevated risk of copy cat attacks from the unhinged.  But that increased risk is over a baseline that is extremely low to begin with.  Perhaps there is no cost to such reflexive overreaction.  But in fact there always is a cost, since public resources are finite.  Money spent putting an armed guard in every school could be better spent targetted by risk.  There are many inner city neighborhoods and schools that could do with more police presence, for example, because their residents face a non-negligble chance of getting shot: The per capita shooting rate in Brownsville, Brooklyn, for instance , is a whopping 81 times higher than in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood.  Spreading police intervention equally across all neighborhoods in New York, regardless of their crime rate, would be a waste of resources–one that the New York Police Department’s Compstat system thankfully prevents.  In the present instance, however, we seemed doomed to an irrational, if inevitable, response.

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5 comments

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · December 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    IMO the fact that putting armed guards in schools is ludicrous is exactly the point. My suspicion (only my opinion) is that what LaPierre was trying to do was point out the ridiculous nature of the lefts obvious attempt to use a tragedy in order to manipulate public sentiment towards a knee-jerk reaction. I do not believe he actually thinks we will start posting police, citizen soldiers, whatever… at schools. He is simply making the point that the left is posing a dishonest false choice to the public.

    The problem is not what style of gun is available on the market. If you can only buy hunting rifles, then a looney will simply turn to homemade bombs if he is concerned he cannot kill a satisfactory number of people before he is taken down. There are always means to kill a lot of people if you wish to.

    The much more reasonable approach is to change disclosure laws concerning mental health professionals. If mental health workers were required to report basic information about a patient to a government data-base, enough to flag an individual so that a gun-purchase background check will find it. Then that person would be required to undergo further examination first or denied the ability to buy a gun.

    In addition, those living with the flagged individual would be unable to purchase a gun and could be flagged through family connection until they can establish a separate residence. These solutions are riddled with problems of course, but so is trying to ban certain classes of weapon that have been here-to-fore easily available. All you would do is build up a black market which is already where most criminals purchase their weapons anyways, wishing to avoid a paper trail.

  • lhf · December 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Barely noted with respect to LaPierre was that Bill Clinton floated the armed guards in schools proposal after Columbine.

  • Failing Center · December 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t think there is any workable solution to mass killings without understanding why most of them (school and non-school related) have occurred in the last 25 years.

    We can place all the blame we want on guns, mental health-related issues, the media, or even high-fructose corn syrup (and this is only partly tongue-in-cheek; current science already has nicknamed Alzheimer’s Disease “type 3 diabetes” and likened sugar consumption’s dopamine release to cocaine abuse) but without some introspection into the trend towards more mass killings in Western culture we really won’t be able to do anything constructive to prevent these things from happening again.

    Is the NRA’s plan unrealistic or unworkable? Probably less so than we think, given the high levels of security at many urban schools, although it remains to be seen whether it makes sense for every school or whether some lesser armed protection (randomized schedules in a district, for example) might serve as a deterrent. It has other drawbacks, including the increasing paramilitarization of our shared spaces (such as airports and court buildings) and the “constitution-free zones” such levels of security usually represent.

    But it’s probably more realistic than gun control, which determined, methodical killers (Adam Lanza is one, he destroyed his computer prior to his rampage) would likely either adapt to or switch to other methods, such as gasoline bombs or other improvised flammable or explosive devices.

  • CONSVLTVS · December 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    The only state that could prevent all harm from those who abuse their second amendment right is a totalitarian police state—and I rather doubt any of them historically have done so. Background checks are already required in most states, and Connecticut is likely not particularly permissive in its existing gun control legislation. If we ban the weapons or the magazines, we simply strip the law-abiding of their ability to defend themselves against the law-breakers and the insane. People bent on murder will find the tools they need, whether box-cutters on an airplane or fertilizer in a truck. Police cannot be everywhere at once. What is left? The only option that has a chance of working in the world as it is, rather than the fantasy land of Leftist orthodoxy, is to allow the school staff to obtain the training and the firearms required for self-defense and defense of their charges.

  • Mitchell McConnell · December 26, 2012 at 11:19 am

    The problem with this approach, although the economic argument is sound, is that precisely this type of massacre will migrate to the schools that *don’t* have the protection. If the only issue was normal street violence, this works. But how does it stop the next Newtown?

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