Gun Control

Self-Help for Soft Targets

Unlike Obama's gun control proposals, armed citizens can stop mass shooters who are invisible until they strike.

|

There is not much the government can do about the sort of terrorist threat that President Barack Obama described in his speech following the massacre in San Bernardino. It will always be difficult to stop self-radicalized jihadists, operating under no one's instructions, from carrying out attacks on soft targets too scattered and numerous to secure.

The only viable alternative, self-help, is one that Obama seems ideologically incapable of considering. His proposals for new restrictions on firearms move in the opposite direction, based on the assumption that the problem is too many guns in too many hands.

Gun control supporters generally dismiss the notion that armed citizens can help stop terrorists and other mass shooters. They argue that unbadged amateurs will be frozen by fear, that they will accidentally shoot innocent people, or that police will mistake them for bad guys.

These possibilities do not negate the lifesaving potential of encouraging greater self-reliance when waiting for police to arrive means waiting for coldblooded murderers to kill and kill again. We know that intervention by people already at the scene can make a crucial difference.

Last October, UCLA law professor and Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh listed 10 cases where bystanders used firearms to disable, detain, or scare away gunmen who had shot people or threatened to do so. The examples included a Mississippi high school principal, a Philadelphia barbershop customer, a Colorado Springs churchgoer, and a Chicago Uber driver.

As Volokh noted, such interventions seem to be rare—not surprising, since so many mass shootings occur in "gun-free" zones where law-abiding people are disarmed. But bystanders with firearms demonstrably can save lives, which is more than you can say for Obama's proposals.

The perpetrators of the San Bernardino attack did not have criminal or psychiatric records that would have legally disqualified them from buying guns. In fact, one of them passed background checks when he bought pistols from California gun dealers. Obama's recommendation of "universal background checks" in response to the San Bernardino massacre is therefore a non sequitur.

Likewise his suggestion that people on the federal No Fly List should be barred from buying guns. Leaving aside the constitutional problems with stripping someone of his Second Amendment rights based on nothing more than an unverified suspicion, the San Bernardino killers were not on the No Fly List or the FBI's so-called Terrorist Watchlist.

Obama's other proposal—banning the rifles used in the attack, which he described as "assault weapons" even though they did not qualify as such under California law—at least had something to do with the actual facts of the case. But there is no reason to think arbitrarily prohibiting firearms based on their scary, military-style looks will impair the ability of terrorists to kill innocent people.

Other gun control advocates would go further. The New York Times called for mass confiscation of guns "to reduce their number drastically" by "eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition." It did not get much more specific than that, although Times columnist Gail Collins claimed "semiautomatic weapons"—a category that includes many hunting rifles and almost all modern handguns aside from revolvers—"are totally inappropriate for either hunting or home defense."

The Los Angeles Times, which doesn't think the Second Amendment protects any rights the government must respect, demanded a federal ban on "military-style weapons," a limit on the size of magazines, and background checks when parents give guns to their children. It also would "get rid of most concealed-carry laws."

The reasoning behind that last suggestion is hard to fathom. In the face of self-directed terrorists who are invisible until they strike, the last thing we should do is prevent law-abiding Americans from carrying guns. Autonomous terrorism calls for autonomous defense.

Advertisement

NEXT: Brickbat: Let It Go

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It’s always appropriate to link to this again: http://dailyanarchist.com/2012…..tatistics/.
    The “standard” stats on mass shootings only consider those where 4 or more people die. This guy instead looks at public spree killings, where the shooter targeted random strangers in public, and found that almost all of them were stopped by a civilian before police arrived — before the shooter had time to kill four people, thus keeping these incidents out of the official stats, and providing a natural bias against armed civilians, who are in fact always the first responders.

    1. Just face the facts: THERE IS A MASS SHOOTING EVERY DAY IN THE US!! NO OTHER COUNTRY HAS THAT SORT OF THING!! STATS DON’T LIE!!

      Why do you hate the children, you monster?

      1. Mass shootings by inner city minorities with terrible aim only count when people can lump them in with those dangerous young white men.

  2. The Second Amendment is not about home defense, it is about giving the people an option when the government gets out of control. The politicians know this which is the only reason they want to take them away.

    Home defense is just an added bonus.

    1. I don’t believe that “the politicians” actually want to take away firearms to prevent the populace from defending itself against the government. This would indicate that there is some massive nefarious plan playing out in the Democratic Party, and they are just not that smart or capable at that level.

      My impression is that to many on the left, guns are unfamiliar. And like everyone, including conservatives, they fear that which is different from them. So to them, the solution of “let’s make guns more available, and arm more citizens” is a terrifying proposition that makes no sense. They cannot empathize with conservatives, most of whom have grown up using firearms in a responsible manner.

      The easy and stupid thing for everyone to do is to vilify “the other side”. It makes it so much easier to create a world of “us vs. them”.

      1. Just ask any one on the left looter how they feel about taking guns away from IRS and DEA agents and excise tax collectors. My impression from having done this many times is that looters want you helpless so thugs with guns can more easily rob you and cut them in for a share of the loot. Only the Second Amendment has stopped them from enacting Kristallnacht laws so as to escape all retribution or resistance.

        1. I hear that the Second Amendment will give you a back rub and make you a nice hot chocolate too. But for paranoid schizophrenia it is contraindicated.

  3. “If there’s even one thing we can do, if there’s just one life we can save?we’ve got an obligation to try.” – Obama

    “Good guys with guns almost never save lives, so we need to get guns out of their hands.” – Obama’s followers

    1. Obama set a low bar that could be used to justify anything. We should make every American take laxative on a daily basis so no one ever dies of a mortal bout of constipation.

  4. Up to I looked at the draft which was of $7319 , I be certain …that…my neighbour was like they say realie receiving money part time at there labtop. . there moms best frend started doing this less than and just paid the mortgage on their apartment and bought a gorgeous Lexus LS400 . site here……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ???? ? ? ? http://www.Wage90.com

  5. Excellent article, but the photo is a hard act to follow. It brings to mind jokes about being the blind man in a gunfight.

  6. My roomate’s sister makes $86 an hour on the internet . She has been without work for 5 months but last month her pay was $17168 just working on the internet for a few hours. linked here…..
    Clik this link in Your Browser……..

    ??????????? http://www.Wage90.com

    1. Why do you know so much about your roomates sister? Doesn’t she know that selling herself online is evil and that she is actually being forced to live under the patriarchy by her own brainwashed will?

  7. I’ll believe that pro-gun folk are serious about their “more good guys with a gun” mantra when they push for state funding and subsidies that go to indoor gun ranges in cities, gun safety training for low-income people, gun ownership for low-income people, and so-on.

    But if anything like that is happening, I’ve never heard about it.

    1. Gun socialism?

      Fuck off.

    2. Gun ownership for low-income people is cheap guns, like High Point and the old “Ring of Fire” companies: Jennigs, Bryco, Raven.

      The left came down hard on cheap “Saturday Night Specials” in the 70s. Don’t blame the right.

      Anyone can save up for a High Point 9mm. They’re cheap, ugly and reasonably reliable.

      This is a Libertarian website. We don’t promote government solutions.

      We do, however, acknowledge that you are willing to donate your money and time to any pro-gun organization or activity you want.

      Want to teach shooting classes to low-income people? Go ahead and start up a class. No one’s stopping you.

      Want to whine about how government should take my tax dollars to fund your idea? Then shut up, slaver.

      1. And not all (or even a majority) of pro-gun folk are libertarians/Libertarians.

        As such, I think it is quite reasonable to question their convictions when they are unwilling to actually *do* any thing about it.

    3. As a followup to my other post, btw. why don’t you donate to the NRA to support programs like this?

      Eddie Eagle Program.

    4. Armed Citizen Project

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/…..s/2404307/

      http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com…..ts-6643474

      It’s always easier to DIY than depend on government.

    5. “But if anything like that is happening, I’ve never heard about it.”

      Then you haven’t been listening. Do you even Google brah?

  8. Is it coincidental that Taki’s also has an article today on the ludicrous government aversion to self-defense?

    http://takimag.com/article/the…..david_cole

  9. Up to I looked at the draft which was of $7319 , I be certain …that…my neighbour was like they say realie receiving money part time at there labtop. . there moms best frend started doing this less than and just paid the mortgage on their apartment and bought a gorgeous Lexus LS400 . site here……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ???? ? ? ? http://www.Wage90.com

  10. We keep saying it, but nobody listens. Even Obama’s Gun Violence study in 2014 proved that there are by order of magnitude way more defensive gun uses per year than killings.

  11. …because when seconds count, the police will be there in minutes.

  12. If you take away all opportunity for self defense you have to rely on government to defend you.

    If the government can trample the constitutionally guaranteed and protected second amendment rights of the citizens for one reason (safety) it can do the same with every other right just by coming up with the right reason.

  13. We all know that the police are essentially useless for preventing mass shootings. They will come by after the fact and cover up your body, pick up the spent cartridges and take pictures, but seldom do they stop the killing. That will not prevent the next liberal majority in Washington from attempting to curtail gun rights. A ban on semi-automatic “military style” weapons may well result in open revolt. The only solution for the government would be to turn the military lose on the general population. That would be a tragedy. Hopefully, I’ll long gone before that day comes.

  14. The reasoning behind that last suggestion is hard to fathom.

    The reasoning is perfectly clear. They want you helpless before all criminals, government or private. Take away your guns, and you’re helpless.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.