Hasan Had a Carry Permit (and Other Irrelevancies)


A couple of responses to my column about the Fort Hood massacre are notable for their red herrings.

Doug Pennington, assistant director of communications at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says his boss, Paul Helmke, is not "breathtakingly inane"; I am. So there. The Helmke comment I so labeled, you may recall, was his insistence that "more guns" can only make things worse in a situation like the Fort Hood massacre, when in fact it was "more guns" (in the hands of two police officers) that put a stop to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting rampage. Pennington responds with a series of irrelevancies.

First Pennington implies that I want to override the decisions of business owners who decide not to allow guns on their property. I've never advocated that; in fact, I have faulted the NRA for doing so. In my column I did not even argue that people have a constitutional right to carry guns on public property, let alone on a military base. I merely questioned the wisdom of "gun-free zones" as a crime-fighting tactic.   

Next Pennington notes that Hasan qualified for a Virginia concealed carry permit in 1996, since at that point he had a clean record. I'm not sure what that's supposed to prove. Is Pennington suggesting that the lack of a permit deters mass murderers from carrying their weapons in public? The general problem with legal restrictions on gun possession (as I'm sure Pennington has heard) is that criminals do not obey them, while their law-abiding victims do.

Pennington reiterates that Hasan used 20-round magazines, meaning that he had to reload less often than if he'd used 10-round magazines. True enough, but as I said in the column, the extra few seconds did not matter much until Hasan was confronted by people who also had guns. Sgt. Mark Todd shot Hasan while he was reloading. Not surprisingly, none of his unarmed victims tried to rush him during the two seconds it takes to change magazines, although given the number of rounds he fired they would have had four or five opportunities to do so.

Pennington also reiterates that Hasan used a pistol capable of firing armor-piercing rounds, although "the ammunition type that the Fort Hood killer used has not yet been reported." I'm still not getting why this matters, since the special capability Hasan's ammunition may or may not have had apparently played no role in his crime. 

Over at True/Slant, Chris Thomas concedes that the Fort Hood massacre could have been cut short by a gun in the hands of someone who was on the scene when the shooting started. But he faults me for failing to consider the impact that letting people carry firearms in more places would have on fatalities from gun accidents. "The death toll from [gun accidents] far outstrips the body counts at Fort Hood and Virginia Tech," Thomas writes. But this comparison is meaningless. The total number of fatalities from gun accidents in 2006, the latest year for which the CDC has data, was 642. That is indeed greater than the fatalities at Fort Hood and Virginia Tech combined, but so what? The total number of homicides by gun in 2006 was about 12,800*. If arming more victims and bystanders prevented even 1 percent of those deaths, the benefit would far outweigh any deaths from additional accidents.

According to University of Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, most gun accidents occur at home. Furthermore, since 1987, when Florida began the trend toward "shall issue" carry permit laws (which 39 states now have), the number of gun-accident fatalities per year has fallen by more than 50 percent. In other words, the rising prevalence of people legally carrying guns in public has been associated with a decline in fatal gun accidents. On the face of it, there is little reason to think that letting people with carry permits bring their guns to more locations would lead to a noticeable increase in fatal accidents, let alone an increase big enough to outweigh the self-defense benefit.

[*corrected almost "immediately," but not fast enough for some of our quicker commenters]

NEXT: Because When You Support Reason, Someone Who Hates You Throws Up a Little in His Mouth

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  1. “Over at True/Slant, Chris Thomas concedes that the Fort Hood massacre could have been cut short by a gun in the hands of someone who was on the scene when the shooting started.”

    Too bad there were not a bunch of guys standing around who were trained in the use of weapons and were getting ready to go to combat.

    1. My thoughts exactly.

      During pre-deployment everybody lives with their weapon. They just don’t get to live with handout ammunition. How does it work out so well there but noplace else?

      1. Handles with URLz are orange again!

        1. Not for me.

          1. Try to refresh. They were black, I refreshed, and they became orange. Now they just need to get rid of threaded comments so I can stop being such a damned hypocrite.

            1. I thought you were “off the hook” now?

        2. Awesome! I got just what I asked for when I donated!

          1. Damn! So where is my hot brunette over 50 who looks 37 in great shape with an MBA? I have donated like 6 times!

            Must be bad karamel.

      2. John T,
        you think that “During pre-deployment everybody lives with their weapon.”? This is not true, weapons and ammo are kept locked in the unit arms room unless used for training.

    2. When guns are outlawed, only radical Muslims will have guns.

      1. I don’t care what their religion is, we need to watch those people under the division sign.

  2. The number of firearms homicides wasn’t even half of 30,000 – it was 12,791 (from your CDC link). You must’ve meant all firearms death, most of which are suicides.

    1. 12,791 in a nation of 300 million people. That doesn’t exactly strike me as quite the problem it is made out to be.

      1. I get 4.26%/per annum

        1. You are misreading your calculator. You actually get 4.26 x 10 to minus 5. Which is .00000426 per anum. If it was 4.26% 1,278,000 people would be murdered every year.

          1. lulz

          2. I think he meant 4.26 per 100,000. The comparable number for automobile accidents is between 15 and 20.

            1. no, i just didnt see the e-5 at the end of the calculator readout:


              1. You’d think that on a blog called Reason, people would think before they post 🙂

                  1. Already covering that in spades.

  3. The total number of homicides by gun in 2006 was about 30,000.

    Jacob, you need to correct this figure immediately. The total homicides by gun violence in 2006 was not 30,000. The number is less than half that: 12,791 according to:…..10_sy.html

    The only way to come up with 30,000 is to include suicides in the total number of gun deaths.

    1. suicide = autohomocide.

      1. homocide? We support gay rights here.

    2. suicide = autohomocide.

      1. Someone give the squirrels a gun.

  4. Jacob, do you realize how dangerous an Army base could be if people there had guns?

    1. Soldiers have a bad habbit of doing dumb shit like accidently shooting themselves. And losing a weapon is an end of the world experience for everyone involved. Most commanders figure weapons are more trouble than they are worth in garrison.

      1. I think you mean bad hobbit up there.

      2. Or deliberately shooting themselves.

  5. I’m still not getting why this matters, since the special capability Hasan’s ammunition may or may not have had apparently played no role in his crime.

    Because AP rounds are somehow scary. I think I would actually prefer to be shot with an AP round as it would be more likely to produce a thru and thru with minimal expansion than any kind of soft point ammo.

    1. Because, if he had armor piercing ammo he could have shot through buildings, tanks, airplanes, spacecraft and underground bunkers, killing even more people. Or something.

    2. Um, I have a bone to pick with you.

      1. All in the game, yo.

  6. [*corrected almost “immediately,” but not fast enough for some of our quicker commenters

    Juris beat me to it, and I’ve been correcting journalists on this figure for years. You’re the first one to make a correction. Thank you.

  7. Oh, and sorry for the stress on immediately. Gun control nuts love the 30,000 figure because that one fits their narrative much better, and I didn’t want a libertarian magazine to be seen as reinforcing the bogus number. Next thing you know it’s in a search engine, digg’d, twittered reposted and copied far and wide.

  8. So when Obama gets around to “gun reform” will that mean we’ll all get free guns too?

  9. …Hasan used 20-round magazines, meaning that he had to reload more often than if he’d used 10-round magazines


    1. Yeah, that needs corrected too, though less urgently.

  10. Hasan used 20-round magazines

    What pistol has 20-round mags? I thought 17 was pretty much as high as they go. Of course, I tend to only shoot small concealable pistols so mag capacity is always low on those.

      1. I believe it’s been reported that he used an FN Five-Seven (firing the 5.7x28mm round).

        A friend of mine has one, it’s a cool piece and perfectly legal even here in California.

    1. Back in the day, before the Clinton “AWB”, full size 9mm pistols were all the rage. I remember some held 27 rounds, and I think there might have been one that stuffed in 32.

  11. So when Obama gets around to “gun reform” will that mean we’ll all get free guns too?

    No. You get to buy a monthly government-approved “Free Gun*” coupon from a gun-coupon company that makes and sells no guns. The coupons are redeemable only after you get lose a gunfight because you have no gun. And if you don’t buy a new coupon every month, you go to prison — unless you work for the government, or you’re someone it likes.


  12. Epi, he used a FN five-seven. You realize, of course, that this means he was a gamer.

    For the record, I have a 33-round extended mag for my glock 17L. It mostly just makes the damn thing too heavy to shoot accurately.

    1. Always compensating, aren’t you, Warty. Haven’t you raped enough?

      Even my CZ 97B only has a 10-round mag.

  13. -1 “get,” please.

  14. According to that same CDC data, 43,664 people died in unintentional traffic related accidents. That sounds like much more of a public danger then the 642 by guns. They need to start going after people that want to buy cars instead.

    1. And how many people died in intentional traffic related accidents? And if they’re dead, how do we know?

      1. And how many died in intentional accidents that were not traffic-related?

        These are extremely important questions!

    2. Some sort of waiting list is in order.

      1. I think you mean wading list.

  15. …was his insistence that “more guns” can only make things worse in a situation like the Fort Hood massacre, when in fact it was “more guns” (in the hands of two police officers) that put a stop to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage.

    You have to understand the code. When anti-second amendment types say “guns” they don’t mean the literal devices. Instead, “gun” is a code word for “people with bad judgment and the technological capacity for lethal violence.” Inserting the decoded phrase, his statement makes perfect sense:

    “…was his insistence that more people with bad judgement and the technological capacity for lethal violence can only make things worse in a situation like the Fort Hood massacre…”

    Which is probably true. People with bad judgement and weapons could have easily made the Fort Hood attack much worse. However, if you assume that the vast majority of people who carry weapons do in fact have good judgment about when to use those weapons, then the argument collapses.

    These people see no contradiction is saying “guns” are bad but that police with guns are okay because they aren’t talking about the weapons but rather the people with the weapons. They trust police with the weapons but they don’t trust their neighbors.

    That is what all “gun” control is about, an elitist disdain for the judgment of the average citizen. “Gun” control isn’t about controlling weapons, it’s about controlling people.

    The first step to fighting this is to not let them control the language and to stop letting them use euphemisms and code words. Make them come out and say they think most people are idiots who can’t be trusted with sharp objects.

      1. +2 (and the gun as code word is a fucking brilliant bit)

    1. “””You have to understand the code. When anti-second amendment types say “guns” they don’t mean the literal devices. Instead, “gun” is a code word for “people with bad judgment and the technological capacity for lethal violence.””””

      That’s right. When the anti-gun crowd runs into trouble, they are quick to call the people with guns for help.

      Most of the anti-gun crowd have no problem with cops with guns. So it can’t be the gun that’s the problem.

    2. How do we not let them control the language? Stephanopolis pulled out a goddamn dictionary, and Obama still came out of that as the winner.

      1. All he had to do was ask, “Mr. President, who will be collecting this fine for non-compliance with your health insurance reforms?”

        “So it’s collected by the IRS, and you still don’t want to call it a tax?”


    3. This is correct. I have struggled to describe the huge mental blind spot many people have with guns, and the code word bit is exactly right.

      I try to do my part to counteract this by casually mentioning to my coworkers when I’ve gone to the range over the weekend. It’s fun watching them quickly try to cover up their horror with politely neutral smiles.

      1. ditto on the range thing

    4. “They trust police with the weapons but they don’t trust their neighbors.”

      What if their neighbor is a cop?

      But seriously – I mean, it’s not like cops ever have bad judgment and the technological capacity for lethal violence. I mean, really.

      1. didn’t you see that movie…with that black guy, you know the one that sin all the movies. He played a cop next to this newly wed white couple in some suburban neighborhood, and he starts mind screwing them?

        Good times.

    5. Nice that they bothered to use the term “massacre” rather than “defense from Christian fundimentalist crusaders.”

  16. Keep up the good work Jacob. I love some of your critics arguments. One of my favorites is the notion that if we were limited to 10 round clips, people intending mass murder wouldn’t just carry more 10 round clips. So bring 8 clips instead of 4 and watch how much longer it takes to change magazines… maybe you add 8 seconds to the shooting time? Also is the notion by the gun control people that shooters motivated to commit crimes are diligent observers of the law and its requirements. Such a person would never obtain a weapon illegally, nor would they use one outside of the law because they honor the law so much as they breaking legislation involving assault and murder? The only people punished and controlled by gun control are the honest, law abiding, citizens who aren’t the intended targets of such government interference.

  17. I love how the Brady blog doesn’t allow commenting…such brave people they are!

    At any rate, I love this:
    Because, thanks to the National Rifle Association, law enforcement is prohibited from blocking gun purchases by someone on the Terrorist Watch List if the buyer doesn’t have another disqualifying reason (such as a felony conviction or domestic violence restraining order).

    Yes, it’s terrible that we don’t allow peoples’ constitutional liberties to be taken away without first being convicted by a jury of their peers. It’s a shame that secret lists aren’t allowed to be used to disenfranchise people who may or may not commit some crime in the indeterminate future.

    1. And of course a real no shit al quada terrorist is going to give up the life and go straight after he is turned down for a handgun. He would never buy one off the black market or anything. Do these people have any idea how stupid they sound.

      1. al-queda doesn’t even use guns. Where are the bans on box cutters and shoes?

  18. I’m also very fond of the Brady Campaign’s apparent inability to distinguish between a gun which is capable of firing so called “armor piercing” ammo, and a gun which actually did fire such ammo.

    There’s no evidence that Hasan shot anything except normal pistol ammunition, nor would it have mattered one iota, because his victims weren’t wearing armor.

  19. I believe that Gary Kleck is on the faculty of my alma mater, Florida State University, not my other alma mater, University of Florida.

  20. Any gun that can fire a normal bullet can fire armor-piercing ammo. All you do is put a steel, tungsten, or depleted uranium core inside the copper jacket, and you’ve got armor-piercing ammo.

    1. I don’t think the Brady klan wants that information out there. Say hello to the Chicago Teamsters who will be greeting you befor the sun rises.

      1. Hmmmph. I can see Mexico from my house. And Teamsters are afraid of Mexican truckers.

        1. Isn’t it more like Teamsters want to crack Mexican Trucker skulls for driving on their turf? Now you just invited more of them!

  21. Swimming pool deaths outnumber accidental firearm deaths. When will we finally outlaw armor-piercing swimming pools?

    1. I can’t do my laps properly if the pool can’t pierce armor. So THERE!

    2. Jordan, your Primary Care Physician is more likely to kill you then a gun.

  22. From the Brady blog:

    (An aside: isn’t it ironic how some libertarians want government to stay out of their lives, yet have no problem with forcing other people to live with loaded, concealed weapons everywhere they turn? The grocery store; the park; the school; the airport. Apparently, we have the “freedom” to live with what these so-called libertarians tell us to live with. After all, they have the guns, right?)

    Wow. What? I honestly can’t tell if this guy’s taking the piss, or if he really has no concept of what individual rights are.

    Either way, you should be proud for having inspired such a hissy fit, Sullum.

    1. Wow indeed. I love it when leftists put “freedom” in quotes.

      1. It’s a very scary word to people with such delicate sensibilities.

    2. isn’t it ironic

      /sigh, can we just kill the definition of irony already. It’s suffered enough.

    3. Yeah, freedom is a real bitch. It lets people do things.

    4. instead of complaining that this argument is insane, can we come up with a clear, concise response to it? I hate it when people raise this issue with me and then refuse to see the contradiction because I can’t explain it in simple enough terms for their thick skulls.

      1. Governments don’t force freedom on their citizens. Governments can only infringe freedoms of their subjects.

        See also my blog post on this topic.

      2. So Ryan, how many crazy people do you convince with clear, concise arguments?

      3. He deliberately constructed it in a way that we’d be required to reply to inferences, based on either his past statements or what we infer he would do based on what he’s complaining about. When we respond, we have to make enough inferences that he can claim we’re making strawmen and thus attack on him.

        In the end, he’s not making an argument for anything; just a disjointed complaint with each point full of inaccuracies, and incorrect/improper definitions of key concepts
        His points as I see them:

        A.)Libertarians don’t like government involvement in their lives
        B.)Libertarians have no problem forcing others to “live with” concealed weapons everywhere they turn.
        C.)”We” (undefined) have to live with the “freedom” that “so-called libertarians” tell “us” to live with.
        D.)So-Called libertarians are able to impose their will on “us” because they have all the guns. This last point is made in a cowardly fashion by phrasing it as a question.

        A.)yes, libertarians don’t like government involvement in our lives.

        B.)libertarians “force” others to “live with” concealed carry the same way libertarians force others to live with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from unlawful searches, etc.

        C.)This is the biggest cop out.
        He makes no counter proposal because any such proposal would be hypocritical to what he’s complaining about-one group of people being forced to “live with” another group’s “freedom”.

        D.)I don’t remember reading anywhere that so-called libertarians are so large in number and so well armed that they’ve actually managed to achieve that level of control over the rest of the populace.

        He’s a moron for so poorly grasping concepts like freedom and a coward for hiding his agenda the way he did.
        Come on man, come right out and say what you would replace the current scenario with and how it would be better.

    5. I soldier through my day forced to live in a world where drivel like this can thus be spake without any government intervention or oversight. Curse you 1st amendment!

    6. Yeah, or how libertarians are all for “keeping government out of the bedroom”, yet have no problem forcing everyone to have to see two dudes kissing in public.

      Or how libertarians are all for “religious freedom”, yet have no problem with a society where a huge chunk of people believe in primitive superstition instead of science.

      Or how libertarians are all for “freedom of speech”, but have no problem forcing people to put up with other people saying offensive things.

      Or how libertarians are all for “economic liberty”, but have no problem telling environmentalists that they shouldn’t have the freedom to get to choose what size of TV other people get to have.

      Progressive values stand for freedom: the freedom to live in a society where everyone, willingly or not, lives their lives in the way that progressives feel is acceptable. Why do you libertarians hate freedom?

  23. I’m not sure what can be made of this, but Fort Hood is located in Killeen, Texas, where the Luby’s massacre took place in 1991, ultimately leading the Texas Legislature to enact a “shall-issue” law on concealed weapon licenses.

    It’s just too bad that the only person carrying concealed at Fort Hood on November 5 seems to have been Maj. Hasan.

    1. It is NEXT TO Killeeen Texas and Gatesville Texas, a couple of other towns too.

      I say release MAJ Hasan on his own before trial, at the Gatesville Burger King. Let the public know, so he can get a ride home.

  24. This is what happens when you let our armed forces have guns…

  25. The donors are getting more interesting and diverse.

    We are over half way in the crusade to save Lobster Girl!

  26. Well that makes about as much since as TSA taking away my trauma sheers, but letting our ARMED Marine escorts board the plane with M-16 Amo. What was I going to do…cut someones pants off.

    1. For all they knew you could have been Warty/Steve Smith.

  27. The US MARINES in Beruit Lebanon in 1983, were not allowed to have ammo in their guns.

    When our leaders allow our military men to be target practice for terroist, and the American people are not outraged and then holding those leaders accountable. Then we are doomed!

    Guns should be allowed to be carried by law abding citizens anywhere in this country. Then you would see peace prosper.

  28. “Gun Free Zone” killed 99% of these military personel.

  29. FYI,

    “I want to override the decisions of business owners who decide not to allow guns on their property. I’ve never advocated that; in fact, I have faulted the NRA for doing so.”

    I am not sure the NRA has ever advocated such. In fact, with all training and experiences I am familiar with it has been the general practice that a private establishment can ask one carrying a firearm to leave their private premises. And a refusal to do so will lead to an arrest “tresspassing”.

    What the NRA has advocated, is not having blanket laws that remove a private establishment from allowing gun owners. And that an establishment must have a clearly demarked sign stating their intolerance to such.

    In Pennsylvania I am able to entering an establishment that sells alcohol. In fact, if I want to enjoy a small glass of Cabernet with my wife on our anniversary I am able to do so.

    While in Arizona last year before the passage of their new law to allow carrying in places that serve alcohol (AZ law still requires abstaining from drinking). Restaurant owners were not ALLOWED to have such visitors.

    The NRA held their Annual Meeting in Phoenix. Many high priced restaurants lost a lot of business as most of us had firearms on us. We didn’t want to leave them stored in the hotel. (Not saying we don’t trust the safety of valuables in a hotel room, nor am I going to say we do.) But when many of us wanted a nice sit down meal we found ourselves eatin Subway. Unable to enter many premises because they had merlot and Corona on the menu.

    If a private owner doesn’t want my business, he has that right. That said – a place owned by the public should not be able to refuse a citizen in good legal standing.


    All said, good article. And a good rebuttle.

  30. “Next Pennington notes that Hasan qualified for a Virginia concealed carry permit in 1996, since at that point he had a clean record.” That simply isn’t true – he had contacted al Queda and publicly advocated insurrection and murder. He was a felon several times over before he became a murderer.

  31. “Outlaw Armor Piercing Gay Swimming Pools for Christ”

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