Guns … Again.

If you read through the arguments the “pro gun” groups like to make about concealed carry and allowing people to carry their weapons into various places like schools, churches, and other public venues, you realize they’re – and the people who agree with them – thinking that it’ll be like this:

Yes, everyone is going to be like Dirty Harry.   Leaving aside that it’s fiction, did anyone notice the number of times he almost shot an innocent bystander?

That’s right.  In the scene, there’s at least one “innocent” person running in front of him.  The other patrons are nicely ducking down out of the way, and Harry is remarkably accurate, instantly dropping each of the bad guys with a single shot.  Let’s not leave aside the fact that that he was allowed to draw his gun in the first place.

In real life, that doesn’t happen.  Unless you hit the right spot (spine, heart, or brain), you don’t get an “instant drop.”  Bad guys aren’t going to be accommodating enough to let you draw, and other people don’t conveniently get out of the way.   Here is a more realistic scenario that ABC News did a few years back, where they tested the idea that “if only” someone had been armed, most of the classroom massacres at the time could have been stopped:

Abject failure in every instance.  Freezing up.  Failure to draw their gun.  Failure to take cover.  Failure to shoot properly.  Missing a second shooter.  The truly sad part that was mentioned?  The students in this test had more training than half the states require for concealed carry permits!  Most of them failed to hit the shooter, and all of them ended up … “dead.”   I should also mention another little point that the police trainer made:  Hitting someone else with your gun is something you’re liable for, and will likely get you charged.

Yes, I’ve seen several videos where the “armed citizen” supposedly stopped something.  You know what I noticed?  They were lucky they didn’t hit anyone else, and mostly, they missed.  Unless it was at point-blank range, they were just spraying bullets after someone who started running away instead of shooting back.  I should also mention that a few of them went to jail afterwards.

In the number of mass shootings – which have gone up as gun numbers increased – there’s something that you should know:

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 recent rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, they not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed. (bolding mine)

That’s reality.   Yes, we’d all like to think we could be Dirty Harry in a situation, but “Dirty Harry” is a fictional character.  It’s a story, and what he does is just that – fictional.  It doesn’t work that way in real life.  It doesn’t matter how good you are on a range, or how good you are at home at getting your pistol out of the holster.  Targets don’t shoot back, and there’s a big difference when another gun is pointed at you, and you are caught by surprise.    The numbers say that you’re not doing any good.  So no, you’re not making yourself or others any safer by carrying a gun.  All you’re doing is endangering other people, and yourself.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Guns … Again.

  1. It horrifies and alarms me that in the wake of the tragedy at Newton, sales of automatic weapons increased. People who shoot others are sick, but these folks who think they need these weapons have some serious issues, too. They claim that they want an automatic weapon because they have a right to it but also to protect themselves from OUR GOVERNMENT. Dear God, who is going to protect me from THEM? We do not need a return to the wild west. The US stands as an embarrassment to all the nations in this world for our per capita gun deaths and gun ownership. We need some sanity and quickly.

    • It’s the conspiracy theory mania that has infested them since the ’90′s, as well as various “apocalypse” theories. :roll: Magical thinking, and not quite … sane. Seriously, a small group with semi-automatic combat rifles would last maybe … 60 seconds … against any government force. They’d spray a lot of bullets, miss, then die. If they weren’t crapping their pants and surrendering as fast as they cold.

  2. I hadn’t seen this video. Nicely done.

    Of course there is also the factor that the shooter wouldn’t have been as accurate either as the trained cops in this video but then the “citizens” with the guns in this video were on a bit more heightened alert by virtue of this training. More so than the common Joe or Josephine in real life would be, weakening even further their capability of stopping the shooter before it was too late.

    • Exactly. While the shooter may (and probably wouldn’t) be as accurate in real life, the thing to remember is that the shooter doesn’t care who he shoots. He (or she) isn’t – if past incidents are any lesson – interested in surviving, either.

      Even training and “mental preparation” is no guarantee that you’re going to do the right thing. One of the people I knew in the Army was with the Rangers when they jumped into Grenada. He told me that “half the guys just stood there, they couldn’t believe that someone was shooting at them!” In short, out of a group of extremely well-trained soldiers, knowing they were going into a “hot LZ,” half of them did the wrong thing.

  3. somsai

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Potential scenarios on the internet are all fine and dandy but at the end of the day nothing will be done to reduce the number of deaths due to firearms in the US. Less people are murdered with any type of long gun including scary black guns, bolt guns, lever guns, shot guns than knives. Most murders, most suicides, most accidents are from handguns, and people love handguns. Liberals and conservatives, men and women. Seems like 9 out of 10 times people tell me they too have a gun it’s a handgun.

    I’ve no Dirty Harry fantasies, I’ve also no handguns or “assault weapons” and I’m really not worried about those who do. Income inequality, wealth disparity, poverty, mental health stigma and discrimination, lack of health care, all those things worry me. Guns, not so much. Sure, I’d love to have an AK or classic wheel gun, not as much as I’d like a wall tent or some work on my teeth.

    My 2 kip.

    • I worry about those other things, but guns are a serious problem in this country. Guns are now getting to the stage where they’re exceeding the automobile as a cause of death in this country. What you’re saying is “meh, so what?” By the way, you’re also wrong about the murder statistics.

      Now, here’s the other thing: The same day as the Newtown massacre, there was another school incident in China. A nut went into an elementary school with a knife and injured 22. Note – injured, not killed. You’re more likely to survive a knife attack.

      Now, as to your lumping all those weapons (including handguns) together. There’s a real difference that has happened over the past 20 years. You notice in the movie that Harry uses a revolver? It has 6 shots, and it takes time to reload one. That used to be “the standard handgun” for most people. A bolt-action or pump-action long weapon? Again, limited ammunition and firing rates. The current “popular” handguns have a 9 round magazine, and it takes only a second or two to reload. The rifles have 20-30 round (and you can get 100 round drum magazines), and can be reloaded in under two seconds. I’ve done it. They can also fire a lot faster. Which means that you can now create even more carnage, which is what we’re seeing.

      So yes, we do need to address the gun culture. As well as pass laws about getting this under control.

      • somsai

        I used Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ushomicidesbyweapon.svg I’m not into researching gun stuff much, but for a truthful discussion I think it’s helpful to separate suicide from homicide from mass murder. Suicide is a terrible terrible tragedy and it’s the reason deaths from guns are approaching those of death by motor vehicle. When my kids go to primary school after the break I’m just not concerned that they will be killed by someone committing suicide and that’s by far the vast majority of gun deaths. More than semi auto of any sort plus any other type of firearm including pirate pistols.

        What types of gun death we are concerned with and how prevalent those types of death are, are very relevant to a fact based discussion. I’m concerned that we’ll have a big to do, and no meaningful legislation will be passed.

        When I lived in China they’d parade up to 2,000 people per year, through the streets in the back of a truck on their way to an appointment with a bullet to the brain stem at the sports stadium. That was one province. Horrible, and as relevant as some slasher.

        • No, it’s not “as relevant as some slasher.” That’s a red herring argument. Your argument is drawing a false equivalence between a criminal justice system’s penalty and an act by private individuals. Using your methodology, there’s no difference between someone dying of a drug overdose and someone who is put to death by drugs after being sentenced to that in court.

          I’d invite you to take a look at the newer statistics, where 10 states have a higher death rates from guns than from motor vehicles.

          Nationally, there were 31,236 firearm deaths in 2009 and 36,361 motor vehicle deaths according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

          The big difference?

          Experts agree that the formation of the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1966 coupled with a sustained decades-long effort to develop and implement a series of injury-prevention initiatives have saved countless lives. Numerous changes in both vehicle and highway design followed the creation of NHTSA. Experts also cite the increase in the use of seat belts beginning in the mid-1980s as states enacted belt-use laws as well as a reduction in alcohol-impaired driving as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other organizations changed the public’s perception of the problem and laws were enacted to increase the likelihood that intoxicated drivers would be punished. Graduated licensing laws are credited with helping to reduce the number of teen drivers crashing on our nation’s roadways. Between 1966 and 2000, the combined efforts of government and advocacy organizations reduced the rate of death per 100,000 population by 43 percent which represents a 72 percent decrease in deaths per vehicle miles traveled.

          In other words, we regulate the heck out of motor vehicles, while we’ve increased gun ownership and reduced regulations and laws. The other thing, as I pointed out, is that the type of guns being bought are far and away more lethal than in the past.

  4. My problem is that people keep concentrating on the end result, instead of the cause. Guns are indeed a tool used for killing, or at least intimidating. I am not railing against reasonable regulation (which will have to start with a complete reworking of the second ammendment). The problem is that while guns are so easy, which is why they are the popular choice, they aren’t the only choice. Tim McVeigh is an example of someone choosing something else. The problem is less the tool and more the underlying reason they person made the decision to harm.

    We need to push for universal healthcare that includes mental health. We need to quit letting the pharmaceutical industry put its prior employees and pawns in government offices so they they essentially regulate themselves, so we can get these “medicines” for things like depression that come with warnings stating that they can cause aggression and suicidal tendencies. We are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have this. This is a much bigger reason for our murder issues than choice of weapon.

    There are other things that need work as well, but that is where to start.

    • We don’t necessarily have to re-work the Second Amendment, instead, we need to get back to what was “common sense” about it before the NRA was taken over by extremists. That is, people understood that “well-regulated” was a part of it.

      Yes, we also need better mental health coverage. I should also point out that every medicine has side effects and warnings. That includes especially “natural” medications.

  5. Dancer

    To paraphrase Andy Borowitz: Your “right” to own a gun is trumped by MY “right” not to be shot!

  6. see above

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
    Our founders did not believe in a standing Army during peace. They believed they would call up the citizens in the event they were needed for the defense of the country, remember Paul Revere? The guns they had, were very primitive by today standards.
    There is nothing that indicates guns were to be used for self defense, there is nothing to indicate a citizen should “stand his ground”.
    If you want to own a gun maybe you should have to join the National Guard they are todays equivalent of a Militia.
    Does anyone here remember the gunman at the Empire Stae Building a few weeks back. The police were there, shots were fired, and it was found that the wounded bystanders were either hit by flying objects or police bullets. Guess even Dirty Harry misses now and then.
    More guns will NOT make things better. It will take a multi-pronged approach to begin to curb the ever increasing violence. One that includes honestly dealing with the obscene inequality that has grown in this country since the late seventies and has pushed the US ever lower as measured against others developed nations in this world on just about every measure. We are not number one in any of the important quality of life categories but we are in guns. We have 5% of the earths population and own 80% of the guns.

  7. Reblogged this on The Real Ken Jones and commented:
    Concealed-Carry argument gets shut down. If anyone tries to argue otherwise refer them to this.