Gun Control Non Sequiturs

While researching my column for this week (about Barack Obama's position on gun control), I came across this lame response from Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, to the recent shootings at Northern Illinois University (NIU):

Do we give up and say we can't do anything about these tragedies? Or do we take common-sense steps today to make it harder for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons?...

Over the years, the Brady Campaign has proposed numerous common-sense measures to reduce and prevent gun violence. It may be difficult to stop "suicide shooters" like the Northern Illinois University killer, but there are steps we can take as a nation.

We can require background checks for every gun transaction in America. Current Federal law requires that only Federally licensed gun dealers do a computer check on the criminal backgrounds of purchasers who buy guns from them. Yet there is no such restriction on unlicensed sellers who sell guns at gun shows, from the trunk of their cars or at their kitchen tables. If we want to make it harder to dangerous people to get dangerous weapons, we must close this loophole, and require that all gun buyers undergo a background check.

We can limit bulk purchases of handguns to cut down on the illegal gun trade. Gun buyers currently have no Federal limits on the number of guns they can buy at one time. Gun traffickers take advantage of the unlimited number of guns they can purchase at a time in order to sell guns to criminals and gangs....

We can also ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. One thing the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shooters had in common was that they both used high capacity ammunition magazines that would have been prohibited under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004.

The NIU murderer, Steven Kazmierczak, legally purchased the shotgun and three handguns he used, which did not qualify as "assault weapons," from a licensed dealer on three trips over seven months, and there does not seem to have been anything about his background that disqualified him from owning firearms. So the only possibly relevant suggestion offered by Helmke is to reimpose a 10-round federal limit on the size of magazines. But considering that Kazmierczak fired the shotgun six times and the handguns 48 times; that it takes just a few seconds to switch magazines; and that police arrived about six minutes after the attack started, by which time Kazmierczak already had killed himself, it is doubtful that the death toll was any higher than it would have been had he been carrying 10-round magazines. In fact, I cannot recall reading an account of a mass murder in the U.S. where "high capacity" magazines made a demonstrable difference.

The rest of Helmke's "common-sense steps" could not possibly have stopped this attack. So why trot them out and pretend otherwise? Because that's what gun controllers routinely do, as I noted in a 1994 article for reason. Their lobbying, publicity, and fundraising imperatives prevent them from admitting the truth: With something like 200 million guns in circulation and no reliable way of predicting which quiet graduate student will go on a rampage one day, this sort of thing is bound to happen occasionally. No policy short of wholesale firearm confiscation can prevent such incidents, although (as I've argued) allowing law-abiding people to carry concealed weapons in heretofore "gun-free zones" might  help reduce the number of injuries and deaths after an attack starts.

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  • ||

    All good words right up to:

    . . . allowing law-abiding people to carry concealed weapons in heretofore "gun-free zones" might help reduce the number of injuries and deaths after an attack starts.

    Might, might not. I do not oppose concealed carry, but this notion is problematic in crowd situations. One or more of those "packing" might as easily kill each other in the melee.

    How about some data? I believe FL liberalized their CC laws. Are annual gun fatalities up or down? Have CC permit holders had an impact on crime rates/violent crime rates? What's the trend on suicides (for which handguns are used far more frequently than for crime intervention)?

  • ||

    Yet there is no such restriction on unlicensed sellers who sell guns at gun shows, from the trunk of their cars or at their kitchen tables. If we want to make it harder to dangerous people to get dangerous weapons, we must close this loophole, and require that all gun buyers undergo a background check.

    How nice and vague and utterly free of facts. Any actual and real ideas of how you can stop a clandestine transaction or should we all just consider ourselves warned of the coming 24-hour/day all encompassing surveillance?

  • ||

    or should we all just consider ourselves warned of the coming 24-hour/day all encompassing surveillance?

    Please do

  • SayUncle||

    Funny how the Brady Campaign never mentions that Illinois ranked in the top 10 in gun control per their own gun control rankings this year.

  • ce||

    "One or more of those 'packing' might as easily kill each other in the melee."

    True, but the primary tactical advantage is a murderer will be much more hesitant to start trouble if he thinks somebody may return fire. A gun-free zone is an all-clear signal to him.

    Studies have shown lower crime rates in CCW states, whether citizens actually carry or not.

  • ||

    Tbone | February 26, 2008, 8:38pm | #

    All good words right up to:

    . . . allowing law-abiding people to carry concealed weapons in heretofore "gun-free zones" might help reduce the number of injuries and deaths after an attack starts.

    Might, might not. I do not oppose concealed carry, but this notion is problematic in crowd situations. One or more of those "packing" might as easily kill each other in the melee.

    How about some data? I believe FL liberalized their CC laws. Are annual gun fatalities up or down? Have CC permit holders had an impact on crime rates/violent crime rates? What's the trend on suicides (for which handguns are used far more frequently than for crime intervention)?



    http://wheelgun.blogspot.com/2006/01/texas-concealed-handgun-law-10-years.html

    There's some info here. I know there is more out there, but my wife just called me for dinner. Perhaps someone else will link to some other sources.

  • SIV||

    Tbone | February 26, 2008, 8:38pm | #
    All good words right up to:

    . . . allowing law-abiding people to carry concealed weapons in heretofore "gun-free zones" might help reduce the number of injuries and deaths after an attack starts.

    Might, might not. I do not oppose concealed carry, but this notion is problematic in crowd situations. One or more of those "packing" might as easily kill each other in the melee.

    How about some data? I believe FL liberalized their CC laws. Are annual gun fatalities up or down? Have CC permit holders had an impact on crime rates/violent crime rates? What's the trend on suicides (for which handguns are used far more frequently than for crime intervention)?




    speaking of non sequiturs

  • ||

    The Brady Bunch is simply expressing liberal angst about something bad. That angst must have an outlet, so something must be done - doesn't matter how futile or misdirected.

    We need to make a statement. [Pass a law that does nothing to actually impact the problem]. We must do it for the children. [Because at heart, we want to be children ourselves - looked after by our benevolent govt/nanny].

  • T||

    Sigh.

    How about some data? I believe FL liberalized their CC laws. Are annual gun fatalities up or down? Have CC permit holders had an impact on crime rates/violent crime rates?

    Okay. On the subject of Florida:

    Contrary to their predictions, homicide rates dropped faster than the national average. Further, through 1997, only one permit holder out of the over 350,000 permits issued, was convicted of homicide.



    I haven't seen recent numbers but the last time I looked at the data, it was inconclusive. CHL may have a net negative effect on crime. It's debateable. However, it is indisputable that permit holders commit violent crimes at a rate far, far less than the average. The kinds of people who get CHLs don't commit crimes.

    What's the trend on suicides (for which handguns are used far more frequently than for crime intervention)?

    Suicide is not at all relevant to this discussion, since you can own a pistol without a concealed carry license. Additionally, all the statistics show guns in the aggregate are used far more for crime intervention than suicide by several orders of magnitude. Handguns would have to make up a statistically insignificant portion of total gun ownership for your assertion to be true.

    Some stats from here with further citations on annual self defense usage available via Google.

    But, hey, continue claiming you're not against concealed carry then bring up the issue of data without doing the slightest bit of research yourself. When you do bring up "facts", they're wrong. You want to bring up off-kilter possibilities, how about you show some data about the probability of it happening? Your hypothetical of multiple permit holders shooting each other has never happened. There are several documented instances of permit holders intervening and changing the outcome positively.

  • Rimfax||

    According to David Kopel, virtually all gun control measures have been non sequitors. Often, to serve another agenda, like racism or nativism.

  • paul||

    Rimfax beat me to it.

    Gun Control is a non-sequitur.

  • ||

    The shooter at VT used a Walther P22 and a Glock 19. The former has a native magazine capacity of 10 rounds, and in the latter he was using 10-round post-ban/pre-sunset magazines, if his ebay purchase history was any indication (his history has since been deleted by ebay). If he bought a new 19 it would have contained two 15 round mags in the box, so at least two of his mags were standard-capacity, but I'm guessing he stocked up on the obsolete 10-rounders because people were selling those things on ebay for prices far below new standard-capacity magazines.

    (Ebay has since banned selling magazines, or any other item "necessary to make the gun go bang").

  • MichelleH||

    Occasionally?

    Give it up. People aren't stupid. It happens everyday and it is getting worse. Put down your stupid gun and pick up a paper and read. The gun nut's obsession with his weapons is impacting on our freedom to walk around unharmed. Those guns ain't being kept in your house to for self protection, they are out in our world and killing our kids.

    Gun control doesn't work because there is none; something the gun industry stops by pouring 22 million a year into our government. How proud you must be to know you've bought your second amendment rights with blood money.

    You want to talk Florida? http://www.sun-sentinel2.com/homicide_database/broward_homicides_2007_02.html

    The gun industry has done so much damage to Florida. Everyday, several domestic gun deaths...it's not even crime, it's family stuff. Every redneck and his grandmother has an automatic or semi. Totally out of control.

  • ||

    Gun control doesn't work because there is none;

    You're a fucking moron.

    Totally out of control.

    Remember, folks, gun control has a lot more to do with control than with guns.

  • ||

    As if Broward county is representative of the USA. Did they ever figure out how to operate a voting machine?

  • ||

    What's the trend on suicides (for which handguns are used far more frequently than for crime intervention)?

    When someone commits suicide, it is neither an accident, nor a violation of one's rights by the use of force. It is merely a sad statement about their life that they would prefer to die than continue living. If a gun is used to commit suicide, that doesn't make guns any more the cause of violence than bridges, pills, or nooses. The gun was successfully used for the intended purpose, and nobody's rights were violated.

  • ||

    I really enjoyed the article from 1994. I think that sums up my stance on the gun control issue perfectly. As an earlier poster pointed out, the whole idea with gun control is just "control," and personal control is something that the government can't touch or regulate as much as they try. The answer to this problem doesn't lie in the extremes (all guns or no guns at all), but in the idea that people are given the information and experience to monitor their own behavior.

    One thing that the article hits right on the head is that this discussion only comes up after a tragedy. It's not a "real" issue, like the economy or health care. It is a movement driven more by grief and emotion than evidence-based thought. Call me callous, cold or heartless, but the fact that there were people killed doesn't change the issue for me that much. I certainly feel for the families of those affected and home they can find comfort somehow, but I cannot in good conscience let knee-jerk reactions guide my thinking. Sadly, there will always be bad people in the world, people who will find a way to break our hearts no matter what restrictions are put in place.

  • Pete||

    are you people really so deluded you don't realize that easy availability of handguns in a society leads to more handgun deaths???


    disregarding sensational schoolmassacres, which really don't impact statistics much, but just looking at murder rates, it is blatantly obvious that the reason for the high murder rates in the US is because of the legacy of easily available handguns


    it is OK to say "that's the price of freedom", but to deny the obvious just makes you look like morons

  • ||

    We should make handguns less easily available. I suggest some kind of firearm owner's identification card that could be issued 4-6 weeks after the application is submitted and the applicant's background is checked. This should be required for personal sales as well as retail purchases. That would be reasonable.

  • ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ||

  • ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ||

  • ||

    are you people really so deluded you don't realize that easy availability of handguns in a society leads to more handgun deaths???

    You have the one-way delusion glass installed backwards. Again.

    People kill one another because they want to, not because of any particular tool is available for the job. Any lethal tool will do. A teenager in Maryland was sentenced yesterday for killing another boy with an aluminum bat, not unlike what is used in Little League baseball games.

    Note that Maryland has fairly strict gun-control laws on the books. (Also note that Baltimore is #2 in homicide deaths behind Detroit. DC, where all handguns are already illegal, is also ranked very close to the top.)

    Please tell us how any type of control would have prevented that death and also, how an effective means of self-defense could have prevented it. Be sure to footnote your response. Morons like that sort of thing.

  • Abdul||

    In fact, I cannot recall reading an account of a mass murder in the U.S. where "high capacity" magazines made a demonstrable difference.

    I'm against gun control, but in fairless low cpacity magazines can make a difference (it would violate our rights, but it would be a difference). As I remember, Colin Ferguson used high capacity magazines in the Long Island Railroad shooting. He targeted white people, and three black guys tackled him when he eventually reloaded. They probably would have got him before he killed 6 and wounded 19.

  • ||

    I hate it when the bloody flag is waved after these tragedies for more gun control. The fact is most of these tragedies are caused by people that didn't break gun laws until that one day and at that point, only luck would have saved people, not more laws.

    I'm no fan of gun nuts, but I think we've got a lot of sissy, pantywaisted ivory eggheads with no understanding of reality trying to tell us where and when guns can be used appropriately. And so far, they're batting in the .050 range as far as useful gun laws.

  • alisa||

    There's a handgun ban in my home city, but the neighborhood paper carries ads, complete with maps and directions, for an out-of-state gun store. As a non-gun-owner, I don't feel particularly safe knowing that I'm surrounded by illegal guns; the ban doesn't seem to do much.

  • ||

    I recall at least 4 documented cases of handguns in civilian hands stopping or minimizing the rampages of mass murderers: (Tyler, TX; Appalachian State; the recent church shooting; armed schoolteachers in Israel recently killing 2 terrorists before any children were killed) and several more are available if you start googling. So we can demonstrate conclusively that concealed carry laws and/or private handgun ownership can prevent/minimize mass murders.

    Look up the Luby's shooting in Texas if you want to see what happens when the law abiding are disarmed. A civilian who left her handgun in her vehicle, to avoid breaking the law, testified later that she watched her parents slaughtered while having ample opportunity to shoot the bad guy, had she been armed. This mass murder led to a movement for concealed carry reform in Texas and (after her veto of the reform) the loss of the governor's office by Anne Richards to George W Bush.

    So we see what happens when law-abiding civilians are disarmed (VT, NIU, Columbine, mall shooting, Luby's): mass murderers kill until they tire of it and then they kill themselves. And we see that it is possible for civilians to protect themselves and others without causing carnage themselves.

    So the anti-gunners better change their arguments to fit the facts, or they will be ignored from here on out as the adults using reason rather than emotion decide what to do.

  • ||

    The Luby's shooter gave us Bush 2? Motherfucker.

  • ||

    JW | February 26, 2008, 9:00pm | #

    Yet there is no such restriction on unlicensed sellers who sell guns at gun shows, from the trunk of their cars or at their kitchen tables. If we want to make it harder to dangerous people to get dangerous weapons, we must close this loophole, and require that all gun buyers undergo a background check.

    How nice and vague and utterly free of facts. Any actual and real ideas of how you can stop a clandestine transaction or should we all just consider ourselves warned of the coming 24-hour/day all encompassing surveillance?

    FYI

    The statement is corrrect JW.

    There is no way you nor anyone else can detect a clandestine transaction - yet.

    Big Brother is not that pervasie just yet.
    You need to get that fact straight.

    This happens all the time with firearms. Depending on the sate, go to a flea market and you will be surprised what you find there, for sale or barter.

    "Guns don't kill - people do."

    "Take away the guns and people will find another way to kill each other."

  • ||

    If larger-capacity ammunition sources don't allow you to do more shooting in less time, then why doesn't the army issue 10-round magazines for the .50 caliber machine gun, but belts with hundreds of rounds?

    Because having to stop and change magazines stops you from shooting for a little while. Duh.

    "Only a few seconds," eh? Everybody, look at the nearest door to the room you're in, and estimate how long it would take you to bolt out that door.

  • Neu Mejican||

    True, but the primary tactical advantage is a murderer will be much more hesitant to start trouble if he thinks somebody may return fire. A gun-free zone is an all-clear signal to him.

    Bull shit.

    Criminals are typically risk takers.
    Suicidal shooters are hoping to get killed by the end of the day.

  • ||

    Helmke isn't even right about the magazine issue. The Federal AWB did not ban the posssesion, use, or sale of so called high-capacity magazines (the term is a misnomer because in reality they are just the normal capacity for that particular firearm.)

    All of this was still completely legal. The only thing the AWB actually banned in terms of magazines was the selling of newly-manufactured normal-capacity magazines into the civilian market. And the only noticable effect was an increase in the price of such magazines (though a smaller increase than might have been expected since many mfr's had seriously ramped up production before the cutoff date.)

    Alisa,

    I'll believe that when you document it.

  • ||

    Suicidal shooters are hoping to get killed by the end of the day.

    That's a good point, and most of these shooting-spree killers have been suicidal.

    But on the other hand, they also want to kill a few people - either some specific people, or just a bunch of people - first. You don't hear about too many such killers storming a police station. So I can see both sides.

  • ||

    joe | February 27, 2008, 11:57am | #

    But on the other hand, they also want to kill a few people - either some specific people, or just a bunch of people - first. You don't hear about too many such killers storming a police station. So I can see both sides.


    I agree. If they want to kill people, they want a location where they are free to do their worst, not a place where they will be stopped in their tracks at once by armed responses.

    Also, here in NH, I can sell any non-NFA weapon to any private citizen across my kitchen table. I don't even have to make a bill of sale. Just a handshake. Take that, Illinois! Fuck you, Brady!

  • ||

    If Helmke is the best the Brady org can do for a spokesman, I have to wonder if they're doing poorly on the financial front.

  • ||

    I fundamentally believe that by limiting magazine capacity to ten rounds or less, that people will have a ghost of a chance to defend themselves while the murderer is reloading.

    Allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a defensive weapon with which to react to a crazed killer is just asking for a higher death toll.

    Also:
    2+2=5

  • ||

    FWIW, Colorado requires all gun show firearms purchasers to go through a NICS check, regardless of whether the seller holds an FFL or not.

  • alisa||

    Kirk Parker:
    I don't think I can document it, sorry to say. They were running the ads last year and I don't have time to page through the archives.

  • ||

    Neu Mejican | February 27, 2008, 11:39am | #

    Bull shit.

    Criminals are typically risk takers.
    Suicidal shooters are hoping to get killed by the end of the day.



    Criminals are typically risk takers - really? Entrepreneurs are risk takers, Evel Kneivel was a risk taker. Criminals are either dumb-ass idiots (few) insane (fewer) individuals making calculating career choices (most).

    Suicidal shooters are hoping to get killed by the end of the day.

    I suggest we help them get to their goal quicker by having armed citizens on the scene. Or would you prefer having armed cops posted in every story, classroom, church, etc to help them on their path?

    If they are as you claim, risk takers, and/or suicidal, consider what joe (11:57) noted: "You don't hear about too many such killers storming a police station."

    Yer right by the way, criminals = risk takers is bull shit.

    anti-gun | February 27, 2008, 12:59pm | #
    I fundamentally believe that by limiting magazine capacity to ten rounds or less, that people will have a ghost of a chance to defend themselves while the murderer is reloading.

    Allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a defensive weapon with which to react to a crazed killer is just asking for a higher death toll.

    Also:
    2+2=5



    Looks like nobody's going to bite...! Nice try though.

  • ||

    MichelleH: Some paraphrasing:
    "Give it up. People aren't stupid. Put down your stupid gun and pick up a paper and read."...
    You want to talk Florida? http://www.sun-sentinel2.com/homicide_database/broward_homicides_2007_02.html
    ...The gun industry has done so much damage to Florida. Everyday, several domestic gun deaths... Totally out of control."

    Did you read any of that link yourself??
    On just the first page...
    There were 5 stabbings, 3 beatings, 1 father who while asleep rolled onto his child suffocating the child so I guess we need steak knife, hands and sleeping control laws.
    That is 9 of 20 that had nothing to do with guns. Of the rest as far as I can tell half were gang related so you can bet that even with gun control laws up the wazoo nothing would have stopped them.
    Lastly going through several pages I noticed many shootings were by clerks being robbed shooting perps or police shootings of perps. Maybe we need to take guns away from them so they can't defend themselves or stop fleeing rapists and stabbing murderers?

  • ||

    Just notice one of the Broward County homicides were death by being hit with a football! A pregnant woman was hit with a football and the fetus died as a result. This is tragic, but homicide? What will we do with no Superbowl.

  • ||

    I have to point out that pro-gun control people know to call the people with guns when something bad happens. Their claim that someone else having a gun there at the time would not help is phoney baloney. BS pure and simple. Whenever these events happen, the first thing they do is call for more guns via 911. Then they complain there wasn't enough guns on in the first place by complaining about the lack of armed security.

  • ||

    They make the argument that only government is allowed to possess guns. They are either ingorant about history of that arrangement, or they put way too much faith in government.

  • ||

    "How proud you must be to know you've bought your second amendment rights with blood money."

    All of our rights, including the 2nd amend, were paid for by our ancestors in blood. Who are you to decide which rights I have or don't have?

  • ||

    Colin Ferguson used high capacity magazines in the Long Island Railroad shooting. He targeted white people, and three black guys tackled him when he eventually reloaded.

    He used 2 15 round magazines. You conjuecture that fewer would have been hurt if he had used 3 10 rounders instead? One additional swap, when he wasn't stopped on the swap he did between the 15 rounders?

    He was tackled when he stopped to re-fill one of his magazines -- a very slow process.

    He probably would have stocked up on cheaper 10 round magazines and had them pre-loaded, if he'd realized how little resistance he'd face.

  • Neu Mejican||

    KD,

    Criminals are typically risk takers - really? Entrepreneurs are risk takers, Evel Kneivel was a risk taker. Criminals are either dumb-ass idiots (few) insane (fewer) individuals making calculating career choices (most).

    Criminals aren't risk takers?

    You don't think so?

    But you just described entrepreneurs as risk takers and criminals as a class of entrepreneurs.

    BTW I think your proportions are off.
    Most criminals are idiots, some insane, and a few reasonable individuals making calculated career choices.

    I base my assessment of criminals-as-risk-takers on work I have done in the prison system and with delinquent youth. As a group they are much more likely to take a risk than the average person. If carrying a gun, most would be willing to risk that you are less likely to shoot them than they are you.

  • Neu Mejican||

    "You don't hear about too many such killers storming a police station."


    Suicide by cop is quite common (or was) in Albuquerque. APD had a hard time trying to figure out how to discourage the behavior back in the 90's...

  • Neu Mejican||

    related to above post?
    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2008/02/suicide-bomber.html

  • ||

    "Gun control doesn't work because there is none; something the gun industry stops by pouring 22 million a year into our government. How proud you must be to know you've bought your second amendment rights with blood money.

    You want to talk Florida? http://www.sun-sentinel2.com/homicide_database/broward_homicides_2007_02.html

    The gun industry has done so much damage to Florida. Everyday, several domestic gun deaths...it's not even crime, it's family stuff. Every redneck and his grandmother has an automatic or semi. Totally out of control."

    Michelle,

    Government has the record for murdering MILLIONS--only after it has taken away their guns: Look up the numbers killed in Germany, China, Russia, and the list goes on. Here's a site: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM
    Here are a few:
    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime

    All after being disarmed. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state..." There you have it.

  • ||

    tbone
    In your coments you said:

    "How about some data? I believe FL liberalized their CC laws. Are annual gun fatalities up or down? Have CC permit holders had an impact on crime rates/violent crime rates? What's the trend on suicides (for which handguns are used far more frequently than for crime intervention)?"

    This question has ben answered by over 15 years of data. Citizens in 48 states are legaly carrying concealed handguns. John Lott's book MORE GUNS LESS CRIME provides proof that in every county in which citizens carry guns crime gos down.

    Before concealed handgun laws were passed throughout the United States, opponents claimed that such laws would turn disputes over parking spaces and traffic accidents into shootings. This did not prove to be the case. The same responsible adults--age twenty-one and above--now asking to be allowed to carry their concealed handguns on college campuses are already allowed to do so virtually everywhere else they go--office buildings, shopping malls, movie theaters, grocery stores, banks, etc. They clearly do not let their emotions get the better of them in other environments; therefore, no less should be expected of them on college campuses.

    In most states CHL/CCW holders have been educated and tested on both the basic rules of gun safety and the laws pertaining to carrying a concealed handgun, threatening to use deadly force, and using deadly force. They have also passed proficiency (shooting) test at a firing range. Since the fall semester of 2006, state law in Utah has allowed licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns on the campuses of all public colleges. Also, concealed carry has been allowed for several years at both Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO) and Blue Ridge Community College (Weyers Cave, VA). This has yet to result in a single act of violence at any of these schools.

    Numerous studies, including studies by University of Maryland senior research scientist John Lott, University of Georgia professor David Mustard, engineering statistician William Sturdevant, and various state agencies, show that concealed handgun license holders are five times less likely than non-license holders to be arrested for violent crimes. College students can already legally purchase firearms, and every state that provides for legalized concealed carry has statutes prohibiting license holders from carrying while under the influence. Legalizing concealed carry on college campuses would neither put guns into the hands of more college students nor make it legal for a person to carry a firearm while under the influence.

    What is worse than allowing an execution-style massacre to continue uncontested? How can any reasonable action with the potential to stop or slow a deranged killer intent on slaughtering victim after victim be considered 'worse' than allowing that killer to continue undeterred? Citizens with concealed handgun licenses are not vigilantes. They carry their concealed handguns as a means of getting themselves out of harm's way, not as an excuse to go chasing after bad guys. Whereas police shooting statistics involve scenarios such as pursuits down dark alleys and armed standoffs with assailants barricaded inside buildings, most civilian shootings happen at pointblank range. In the Luby's Cafeteria massacre, the Columbine High School massacre, and the Virginia Tech massacre, the assailants moved slowly and methodically, shooting their victims from pointblank range. A person doesn't have to be a deadeye shot to defend himself or herself against an assailant standing only a few feet away. It is highly unlikely that an exchange of gunfire between an armed citizen and a deranged killer would lead to more lives lost than would simply allowing an onslaught of execution-style murders to continue unchecked.

    Contrary to what the movies might have us believe, most real-world shootouts last less than ten seconds*. Even the real Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, a shootout involving nine armed participants, lasted only about thirty seconds and ended with only three of the participants being killed. It is unlikely that an exchange of gunfire between an armed assailant and an armed citizen would last more than a couple of seconds before one or both parties were disabled. And if the assailant were disabled, he would be unable to do any more harm.

    "I lobbied against the law in 1993 and 1995 because I thought it would lead to wholesale armed conflict. That hasn't happened. All the horror stories I thought would come to pass didn't happen. No bogeyman. I think it's worked out well, and that says good things about the citizens who have permits. I'm a convert." -- Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association, Dallas Morning News, 12/23/97

    "I ... [felt] that such legislation present[ed] a clear and present danger to law-abiding citizens by placing more handguns on our streets. Boy was I wrong. Our experience in Harris County, and indeed statewide, has proven my fears absolutely groundless." -- Harris County [Texas] District Attorney John Holmes, Dallas Morning News, 12/23/97

    "Some of the public safety concerns which we imagined or anticipated a couple of years ago, to our pleasant surprise, have been unfounded or mitigated." -- Fairfax County, VA, Police Major Bill Brown, Alexandria Journal, 7/9/97

    "I was wrong. But I'm glad to say I was wrong." -- Arlington County, VA, Police Detective Paul Larson, Alexandria Journal, 7/9/97

    "The concerns I had - with more guns on the street, folks may be more apt to square off against one another with weapons - we haven't experienced that." -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC, Police Chief Dennis Nowicki, The News and Observer, 11/24/97

    "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun."
    -Dalai Lama

  • Neu Mejican||

    John Lott's book MORE GUNS LESS CRIME provides proof that in every county in which citizens carry guns crime gos down.

    Hardly a definitive source, sorry to say. The evidence seems to hover around the "no effect" range...some studies slightly positive, some slightly negative, most insignificant and/or (more likely) poorly designed.

  • ||

    I wholly support Mr. Sullum's thesis. As a Jewess in the US, may I remind everyone that America wasn't won with a registered gun, and that criminals are stopped by FIREARMS, not by talk? That is why all REAL Americans put our 2nd Amendment FIRST!!

  • ||

    MichelleH dear, get a grip on reality and try to THINK for a change instead of just emoting.

    "People aren't stupid."
    Oh, but they ARE stupid! Look at your post for example: "The gun nut's obsession with his weapons is impacting on our freedom to walk around unharmed."

    Your cowardice took that FREEDOM away; when you cowered and cried for another to protect you, rather than accept the heavy yoke of "Personal Responsibility" for your own safety.
    When you dial 9-1-1 . . . don't the police come with the GUNS you were too cowardly to carry yourself?
    "But, I'm not TRAINED!" That's because you're a sniveling coward, afraid of personal responsibility; or you would GET the training you need to protect your "freedom to walk around unharmed."

    Please name all the murders committed by a "gun-nut", which were LEGAL.
    Take your time and maybe the stupidity of you position will sink-in.

    EACH MURDER was an ILLEGAL ACT committed by a CRIMINAL. To earn the title "criminal" requires disregarding the LAW.
    What new gun control law do you emote (you sure aren't thinking), a CRIMINAL WILLING TO COMMIT MURDER, will obey?
    There is another name for people who will obey the law: LAW-ABIDING.

    "Those guns ain't being kept in your house to for self protection, they are out in our world and killing our kids."
    You are a LIAR!
    The guns you are referring to are NOT the guns of the law-abiding; they were the chosen tools (criminals also use gasoline, hammers, knives, cars, axes, screwdrivers to commit murder) used by CRIMINALS for their crime.

    You stupidly snivel: "Gun control doesn't work because there is none;"
    You are a LIAR. The law-abiding citizens of DC have been the victims of the strictest gun control laws in the USA.
    Yet, IF "Gun Control Works" please explain why Washington, DC with some of the strictest gun control laws in the USA, also has a murder rate of 56.9 per 100,000.
    While JUST 3 MILES AWAY, Arlington, VA, with its "lax gun control laws"; has a murder rate of only 1.6 per 100,000.
    (FBI, "Crime in the United States", 1998)

    Additionally in 2000, 20% of all U.S. homicides occur in FOUR CITIES with JUST SIX PERCENT OF THE POPULATION - New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. -which have/had a virtual prohibition on private handguns. (FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) for 2000, p. 79, Table 5, "Index of Crime by State")

    You bleat: "You want to talk Florida?"

    Sure.
    After passing their concealed carry law, Florida's homicide rate fell from 36% ABOVE the national average to 4% BELOW, and REMAINS IT BELOW the national average (as of the last reporting period, 2005). (Cramer C and Kopel D. Shall issue: the new wave of concealed handgun permit laws. Golden CO: Independence Institute Issue Paper. October 17, 1994) and that's not just cherry-picking one county.
    Care to show what U.S. city or state has strict gun control laws AND violent crime and murder rates LOWER than the national average?

    Of the "Top 10 Countries of Homicide" the USA didn't even make the list. (The following is per 100,000)

    Colombia 62
    Jamaica 32
    Russia 20
    Mexico 13
    Estonia 10
    Latvia 10
    Lithuania 10
    Belarus 9
    Papua New Guinea 8
    Kyrgyzstan 8
    (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention, Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 - 2000)

    In Japan, the murder rate is almost 1 per 100,000. In the U.S., there are about 3.2 murders per 100,000 people each year BY WEAPONS OTHER THAN FIREARMS. (Japan data "1996 Demographic Yearbook", United Nations, 1998: US data FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, 1996)
    THIS MEANS THAT EVEN IF FIREARMS MURDER IN THE U.S. COULD BE ELIMINATED, WE WOULD STILL HAVE THREE TIMES THE MURDER RATE OF THE JAPANESE.

    Oh, and aren't Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica and Russia "GUN-FREE"?

    If you must LIE to make your position SEEM "reasonable", maybe it's time to rethink your position.

  • John Caile||

    Great article. My only comment is regarding the line "No policy short of wholesale firearm confiscation can prevent such incidents," suggesting that such a measure would actually work. In fact, this would be as "successful" as Prohibition was; guns would skyrocket in value, the drug distribution networks would jump for joy for their newfound "product" to sell, and innocent citizens (especially women and the elderly) would be forced to choose between being a defenseless victim or becoming a criminal by owning a gun illegally.

  • John Caile||

    Regarding the comments by readers questioning the effectiveness of carry permit holders in defending against public shootings, there are two elements. First, if properly publicized, the very possibility that armed individuals may be among the potential victims acts as a deterent; such a situation makes an attack less likely, even by a suicidal killer who, though unconcerned about losing his life, does not want to have his rampage thwarted or cut short. Second, once the shooting starts, every second counts, and the quicker someone engages the shooter, the sooner the killer must go on defense; whether the defender scores a hit is secondary - these guys tend to be cowards who either run, or, as in the case in Colorado, simply decide to kill themselves.

    Frankly, I'm getting a bit tired of legislators who persist sacrificing the lives of our children, just to cater to a small but vocal group of gun-phobic hysterics. If they have an anxiety disorder about guns, let these people see a shrink; don't condemn my granddaughters to hiding under a desk, waiting to be executed.

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