Mass Shootings

Sandy Hook Promise Ad Hypes the Danger of School Shootings, Fostering Irrational Fears and Bad Policies

Official responses to these extremely rare crimes are grossly disproportionate in light of the risk they actually pose.

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A new TV ad sponsored by the group Sandy Hook Promise depicts school shootings as a quotidian reality for children and teenagers in the United States, an ever-present threat that must be addressed through careful preparation and constant vigilance. The spot is emotionally compelling but highly misleading given the rarity of such incidents, inflating a tiny risk in a way that fosters unjustified anxiety, which tends to result in misguided policies and wasted resources.

The ad begins with a student at his locker, bragging about the backpack his mother bought him for the new school year. It continues with other students showing off their new purchases, which they use to deal with a mass shooter who is attacking their school: Sneakers come in handy as a student runs from the sound of gunfire, a jacket is used to tie closed a pair of doors to keep the shooter at bay, a skateboard is used to break a window so students can escape, a pair of scissors becomes a defensive weapon, a knee sock becomes a tourniquet for a wounded girl, and a crying girl hiding in a bathroom uses her new cellphone to text what may be her last words to her mother. "It's back to school time," says the closing caption, "and you know what that means. School shootings are preventable when you know the signs."

School shootings, like airplane crashes and terrorist attacks, are dramatic and horrifying events that get a lot of attention precisely because they are unusual. FactCheck.org counted 64 deaths from school shootings between the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012 and the end of 2018. That number includes "students who died after being shot on school grounds, during school hours or after being shot on college campuses—or at student housing—where they were enrolled for classes." The total amounts to about 11 deaths per year, including college students as well as minors.

School shooting fatalities represent an infinitesimal share of all firearm-related deaths among children and teenagers, which mostly involve homicides committed away from school and suicides. Car crashes killed more than 4,000 people 19 or younger in 2017, while 1,430 died from suffocation, nearly 1,000 drowned, a similar number succumbed to drug poisoning, and 340 died from fire or burns. In other words, children and teenagers are about 370 times as likely to die in traffic accidents and about 90 times as likely to die from drowning as they are to be killed in a school shooting. Lightning strikes kill more than twice as many people each year.

Fatalities aside, school shootings are extremely rare events. From April 1999 through May 2019, according to a Guns & America tally, there were 68 K–12 school shootings in the United States, including every instance where "a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time of day, or day of week." Even using that broad definition, there were about three school shootings a year. In 2018, the year with the most gun-related incidents at K–12 schools during this period, there were nine.

When you consider that there are about 133,000 K–12 schools in the United States, the risk that one of them will be threatened by a gunman in any given year is somewhere between 0.002 percent (using the 20-year average) and 0.007 percent (based on the 2018 total). The risk over the course of 13 years, from kindergarten through 12th grade, is between 0.03 percent and 0.09 percent. Yet Sandy Hook Promise is telling us that the risk of a school shooting is something that every child and parent needs to worry about, a danger that requires new "programs and practices that protect children from gun violence."

The organization presents its agenda as utterly unexceptionable. "By uniting people of all beliefs and backgrounds who value the protection of children to take meaningful actions in their homes and communities," it says, "we will prevent gun violence and stop the tragic loss of life." That certainly sounds noncontroversial, as does Sandy Hook Promise's claim that "school shootings are preventable when you know the signs."

But is that true? In retrospect, many school shooters showed "red flags," and in some cases (such as the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida) better attention to those signs might well have prevented their crimes. At the same time, almost none of the people who display what others interpret as red flags are actually bent on mass murder, so false positives will swamp true positives. That reality creates a risk not only of wasting law enforcement resources but of maligning and humiliating a lot of innocent people.

Or worse. Sandy Hook Promise seems to favor what it describes as "Extreme Risk Laws," colloquially known as red flag laws, which strip people of their Second Amendment rights without due process. Based on the vanishingly small risk of school shootings, the organization is advocating a policy that takes away people's constitutional rights when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The standards for issuing gun confiscation orders can be as weak as showing, by "a preponderance of the evidence," that the respondent poses a "risk of danger," whatever that means. And whatever the standard, judges have strong incentives to err on the side of issuing orders, lest they be blamed when something terrible happens.

Judging from the experience in Connecticut and Indiana, the two states with the oldest red flag laws, most gun confiscation orders have nothing to do with threats of violence, let alone plans for a school shooting. Instead they are aimed at people who are deemed to be suicidal. Even when the justification is that the respondent poses a threat to others, the evidence can be shockingly thin. In practice, the hunt for red flags can mean that someone loses his Second Amendment rights for a year or more because of a misunderstood (or misrepresented) conversation or because he said something offensive or controversial on social media.

Inflating the risk of school shootings also can lead to irrational school policies that invade privacy and undermine civil liberties. Last year, the Plano Independent School District, which runs the middle school my youngest daughter attends in Dallas, announced a new policy authorizing "random, suspicion-less metal detector searches" of students in grades 6 through 12. The district planned to use "both walk-through and hand-held metal detectors" on "random groups of students," who would be required to "remove all metallic items from their pockets and person." In addition, "backpacks, bags and personal items capable of concealing a weapon will be opened and inspected for the presence of weapons." Any student "who refuses to comply with the search process will be removed from campus and subject to disciplinary consequences."

According to my daughter, none of this has actually transpired at her school, so the policy may be mainly for show. Even if it were implemented, it would be pure security theater.

It strains credulity to imagine that a program like this would deter someone determined to commit mass murder. As the Texas Association of School Boards notes regarding metal detectors at entrances, "there is no guarantee…that a metal detector will stop a determined individual with a weapon." It cites a 2005 attack in Red Lake, Minnesota, where "a student shot and killed seven people at his high school, including an unarmed security guard who was operating a metal detector at the main entrance." Periodically scanning "random groups" of students would be even less of an obstacle to a mass shooter.

But such security practices do accomplish something. They condition teenagers to surrender their privacy in response to arbitrary edicts from people in authority, based on zero evidence that they pose any kind of threat. Training young people to accept such invasions leaves them ill-prepared for situations in which police overstep their authority. People who are accustomed to being searched for no reason at all are not likely to assert their constitutional rights when a cop asks if he can peruse their cars, homes, or personal belongings.

When Sandy Hook Promise advocates "programs and practices that protect children from gun violence," skeptical readers should fill in the blanks with policies like these, which cast a wide net that catches far more innocent people than would-be killers. Like the similarly minuscule risk of dying in a terrorist attack, the danger of school shootings has been grossly exaggerated to the point that any policy said to address it, no matter how dubious, wasteful, invasive, or unfair, has a decent chance of being adopted.

"We're trying to unite people in the common good of saving kids' lives, as opposed to saying we should ban guns," the chief creative officer at the advertising agency that created the Sandy Hook Promise spot told The New York Times. "It's not about picking a side and defending it."

That is obviously not true. Sandy Hook Promise and its allies have picked a side. It's the one that favors overreacting to an objectively tiny but emotionally resonant danger. It's a side so confident in its own virtue and good sense that it cannot imagine how any decent, reasonable person could disagree.

[This article has been revised to note that the figures for various causes of death include 18- and 19-year-olds as well as minors.]

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  1. The girl in the first photo is violating the law. Scissors weren’t in common use as weapons in 1789.

    /Full Hihn

    1. And she’s got them upside down (her thumb is in the wrong place)

      1. Nah bro, she just a lefty stuck using regular scissors.

        1. That’s even worse.

    2. Michael Hihn has forgotten more about libertarianism than most of us will ever know.

      1. That’s probably true, considering his progressive dementia.

        1. What sock is he using nowadays?

          Never mind what he actually “uses” socks for…

          1. I’m not Hihn, but at least he’s not full of shit like you guys. He’s a libertarian and i’m A Marxist so I find things I agree with and disagree with. But at least he’s honest and doesn’t confuse libertarianism with duh trolling the libs. That’s sooo boring.

              1. Go ahead… troll the libs and think you’re some brave truth teller. You guys are my fucking comic relief while I sit on the shitter.

                1. Hey look it’s another butthurt lib pretending he has a sense of humor.

                  1. You think that’s funny? Try looking at all these GOP asskissers pretending to be libertarians. They’ve been using the same Schtick for decades. It never gets old!

                    1. You seem super upset about it.

                    2. “Try looking at all these GOP asskissers pretending to be libertarians”

                      Speaking of boring, “Libertarians are crypto-Republicans” is about the most tired pejorative that can be leveled. We’ve been watching Joe and Tony among others do it forever.

                      “They’ve been using the same Schtick for decades.”

                      Oh OK you’re Tony.

            1. “That’s sooo boring.”

              But rehashing process crimes no one cares about from a bullshit investigation is high drama?

              FOWTS.

              1. Nixon got kicked out of office for less. He was helped out of office by the GOP, when it had some integrity. It doesn’t now since it’s filled with Trumpian boot kickers and religious bigots, who think he’s going to outlaw abortion. Jokes on them.

                1. “Nixon got kicked out of office for less.”

                  ??? Lol moronic

                  ” He was helped out of office by the GOP, when it had some integrity. It doesn’t now since it’s filled with Trumpian boot kickers and religious bigots, who think he’s going to outlaw abortion. Jokes on them.”

                  Is this the comic relief part?

                  It looks a lot like bitchy liberal boomer.

              2. “Process crimes”

                LOL… man, these Trumpian goons are laying it on sooper-duper thick. Do they have any fucking sense of shame?

                Try obstructing Justice in front of a judge. Ask Paul Manafort how it worked out for him?

                1. The funniest part is how you’re trying to sell the validity of process crimes to some Libertarians

        2. Emphasis on ‘progressive’.

      2. Obstructive act (p. 87): Former White House Counsel Don McGahn is a “credible witness” in providing evidence that Trump indeed attempted to fire Mueller. This “would qualify as an obstructive act” if the firing “would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry.”

        Nexus (p. 89): “Substantial evidence” indicates that, at this point, Trump was aware that “his conduct was under investigation by a federal prosecutor who could present any evidence of federal crimes to a grand jury.”

        Intent (p. 89): “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct[.]”

      3. Obstructive act (p. 97): Trump’s effort to force Sessions to confine the investigation to only investigating future election interference “would qualify as an obstructive act if it would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry.” “Taken together, the President’s directives indicate that Sessions was being instructed to tell the Special Counsel to end the existing investigation into the President and his campaign[.]”

        Nexus (p. 97): At the relevant point, “the existence of a grand jury investigation supervised by the Special Counsel was public knowledge.”

        Intent (p. 97): “Substantial evidence” indicates that Trump’s efforts were “intended to prevent further investigative structiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct.”

      4. Obstructive act (p. 111): This question “would not turn on what Attorney General Sessions would actually do if unrecused, but on whether the efforts to reverse his recusal would naturally have had the effect of impeding the Russia investigation. … The duration of the President’s efforts … and the fact that the President repeatedly criticized Sessions in public and private for failing to tell the President that he would have to recuse is relevant to assessing whether the President’s efforts to have Sessions unrecuse could qualify as obstructive acts.”

        Nexus (p. 111): At the relevant point, “the existence of a grand jury investigation supervised by the Special Counsel was public knowledge,” as well as the existence of a second grand jury empaneled in July 2017. However, “[w]hether the conduct towards the Attorney General would have a foreseeable impact on proceedings turns much of the same evidence discussed with respect to the obstructive-act element.”

        Intent (p. 111): “There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope.”

        1. Wrong thread, unless you just want to post stuff randomly akin to an ape throwing shit

          1. No, you’re thinking of Mr. Wants to import rapists.

          2. Why are you stomping on my friendly conversation with this Trumpian idiot? Geesch, I try to have a little fun and out comes OBL’s moms.

            1. You should focus more on paying your mortgage.

      5. What do you know about libertarianism besides shilling for the GOP, Trumpian?

        1. We know that Trump was fully and totally exonerated, and all the wallotext shit you posted will never get read by anyone so you totally wasted your time.

          1. Trump was by no means exonerated. He escaped indictment only because of DOJ policy against indicting a sitting president.

            But I suspect you know that.

        2. Actually, I was calling for impeachment before the Mueller Report was even released. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

          Know what you should do? Next time you see Mr. Buttplug or Rev. Kirkland post here, copy / paste this stuff for them to read. Unlike me, they have both gone on record saying they don’t think impeachment is necessary. Perhaps you can change their minds.

          #ItsMuellerTime
          #WallsAreClosingIn
          #BeginningOfTheEnd

          1. I understand. You think it’s great that the government is run by these GOP cultists. Keep going. I find you endlessly entertaining, Trumpian.

            1. Hey, Tony, that sockpuppet makes your ass look super fat.

          2. Are you going to post more hilarity about how you have man hair and XY chromosomes? That joke was lame 3 years ago when you first used it but now When I see it I kinda chuckle and begin to wonder about the last time you got laid. You see, it’s funny, but not in the way you meant it.

              1. Oh look, it’s one of OBL’s intel friends. Hi!

                1. So even having friends is triggering to you.

                2. This guy sure takes a lot of loooooong shits.

                  See a gastro.

            1. You are still just an unfunny joke.

          3. Buttplug is too busy jacking it to child rape videos and moderating his local NAMBLA chat room.

    3. Pointy scissors like knives are already illegal in the UK I’m surprised a kid would be allowed scissors in school.

    4. Look at that pose! “I won’t stab unless I have to. I sure hope I have to.”

  2. Public schools suspend students for going to gun ranges, but apparently take little action when a student threaten to kill or rape classmates.

  3. I know I’m being a bit anachronistic in my definitions, but that commercial was an act of terrorism. It’s design, theme, and message is meant to induce terror, to terrorize. Explicitly designed to trigger emotions and feelings in people similar to events which they didn’t undergo or witness and probably shouldn’t. It’s done well enough and out of context that it’s likely several production studio executives at the likes of Blumhouse, Platinum Dunes, and Rogue Pictures are eating their hats right now.

    1. It’s done well enough and out of context that it’s likely several production studio executives at the likes of Blumhouse, Platinum Dunes, and Rogue Pictures are eating their hats right now.

      And along those lines, *spoiler alert* the black kid dies.

    2. That commercial was made by some very, very sick people.
      Sociopaths is too weak a term to describe them

      1. I’d guarantee that at least a few of them, if you said your grade schooler had scene Full Metal Jacket, Robocop, Black Hawk Down, American or Alien, would consider you categorically and unconditionally to be a monster who terrorizes your kids.

  4. “…is emotionally compelling but highly misleading given the rarity of such incidents, inflating a tiny risk in a way that fosters unjustified anxiety, which tends to result in misguided policies and wasted resources.”

    Did you have to give them such a glowing endorsement Sully?

  5. “Based on the vanishingly small risk of school shootings, the organization is advocating a policy that takes away people’s constitutional rights when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others.”

    39,773 died by gun in 17 with the vast majority of those being murder and suicide. Red flag laws could be a factor in many of those. The article seems to misleadingly imply that red flag laws are only intended to help with school shootings or mass murder.

    What about all the suicides and domestic violence murders that could be prevented with red flag laws? It’s worth considering.

    Sandy Hook promise would probably do well to look at the broader benefits of better gun control beyond school shootings. Though I can see why they picked school and mass shootings – they have a disproportionate psychological trauma on our society.

    (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/16/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/)

    1. ” The article seems to misleadingly imply that red flag laws are only intended to help with school shootings or mass murder. ”

      That would be inaccurate, since it would suggest red flag laws were intended to help.

      All they’re intended to do is provide yet another pretext for disarming as many people as possible.

    2. What about all the suicides and domestic violence murders that could be prevented with red flag laws? It’s worth considering.

      Without due process PRIOR to seizure, no it’s not worth considering.

      1. Even with due process, it isn’t worth considering. Suicide is none of my business.

        1. You’re right, but I was thinking more of the murder part.

          1. Fair enough, I was simply considering the vast majority of the cases in question.

        2. I suppose. Although it would be awesome if Tony finally drank his Drano.

    3. “39,773 died by gun in 17 with the vast majority of those being murder and suicide

      From your link “Suicides account for more than 6 in 10 of gun deaths”

      No, the vast majority was just suicide. Which is why you included it to inflate your stats.

      Do you think that being de eptive like that is convincing? We’re not progs, so we notice people like you doing things like that. And being Libertarians, we don’t care all that much about suicide.

      1. Excuse me the exact quote is

        “Suicides accounted for six-in-ten U. S. Gun deaths in 2017”

        Don’t want to be accused of being inaccurate while pointing out how deceptive you are.

        1. Writing of suicide, Tucker Carlson made this observation.

          http://www.mediaite.com/tv/tucker-carlson-democrats-hypocritical-on-gun-violence-because-they-support-physician-assisted-suicide/

          “If we had less access to guns and less access to ammunition, the suicides would plummet and gun deaths … would decrease. 93 people are killed every single day by guns,” noted Democratic strategist Bernard Whitman.

          “Are you against suicide now?” Carlson shot back. “I thought the left supported suicide. Last time I checked, the state of Maine for example, the left has made physician assisted suicide legal. The left pushed that, I’m opposed to it. So are you for or against suicide? I’m kind of losing track.”

          After his guest noted that he does not, in fact, generally support suicide but does believe in some legal exceptions between a “doctor and patient,” the Fox News host replied, “Okay, I get it, you’re going to take my guns away because of suicide but meanwhile you are making suicide legal … The B.S. is just too much.”

      2. And being Libertarians, we don’t care all that much about suicide.

        I don’t think that’s true. But we don’t place the chosen method above the act. Guns are used because they’re pretty much a sure thing. Other methods are used when a gun isn’t available.

        1. Respectfully disagree. Self-ownership means the individual is the ultimate judge of their own end. Full stop.

          1. The individual may be the ultimate judge, but that doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t try to talk them out of it

            1. See, that’s not libertarian. You already assume you know better when you say “talk them out of it”

    4. And you win the award for most obvious statement:

      “39,773 died by gun in 17 with the vast majority of those being murder and suicide.

        1. Accidents and justifiable shootings make up a small fraction.

    5. “Red flag laws could be a factor in many of those” in the same sense that the moon could be made of green cheese. After all, you haven’t personally tasted a moon rock, have you?

      Oh, you actually understand statistics and can explain the Prosecutor’s Fallacy? Then no, red flag laws will not be a significant factor anywhere except in the persecution of the innocent.

    6. dawdler
      September.18.2019 at 3:27 pm
      “39,773 died by gun in 17 with the vast majority of those being murder and suicide…..[more bullshit]”

      First, you didn’t address the comment you quoted, and then A-2, shitstain.
      Fuck off.

  6. It’s just a really good Gorilla glue commercial.

    (OT, Best comment:
    HaloInverse 2 weeks ago

    I followed the link to the unedited version of these ads to find out what happened… and in conclusion, Gorilla (…that’s his name) is an amorally benevolent force of nature whose only concerns are repairing broken objects and small-scale homeowner-construction projects. Concepts like “propriety”, “friendship”, or “murder” are as irrelevant to Gorilla as a nation’s tax law is irrelevant to the Sun itself. Gorilla tapes and glues and mends…but cares not for your petty human trifles. Gorilla is not a god for human worship, but a god to which the rigid spirits of inanimate objects might pray – and Gorilla heard the axe’s plea.)

  7. If you care about your child dying at school, you should home school them. They are more likely to die being driven to or from school, either in your car or on a school bus, than they are in a school shooting.

    CB

    1. Then *every* new backpack, headphones, and pair of scissors is a new back-to-school backpack, headphones, and pair of scissors that says how much your parents really care!

      1. Scissors can be used for mass stabbings. And headphones? If they have a cord they can be used as a garrote.

    2. The most common perpetrator of child murder in the US is a parent. About 500 children each year are murdered by their own parents. If you REALLY cared about your kids you’d drop them off at school and then never see them again, because statically they are safer at school with teachers than at home with parents

  8. Schools conduct ‘active shooter’ drills simply to avoid lawsuits if a shooting were to occur at their school. In the meanwhile it hypes the danger to parents and, not in-coincidently pushes for more gun control.

    1. Mitigates liability, induces hysteria, and promotes gun control. So nothing but “wins” all around

  9. People who love Big Government always uses fear as a means to aggrandize their power over us.
    This is just one example.
    BTW, since when does Reason need to “moderate” comments like the one I have on the global warming hoax today?

    1. The only “moderation” I’ve seen in the Reason comments section was actually a block triggered by including more than one hyperlink in the comment. Comments with multiple hyperlinks never come out of moderation.

      Given the spam that bleeds through their filters, I can sortof understand that limit but it’s not well explained and causes confusion for legitimate users.

      1. Thanks Rossami for the explanation.

      2. Buttplug once linked kiddie porn. I think that was a single link. They removed the comment and banned him.

    2. Fear is the end product but gaslighting is the method. We all know that millions of kids go to school everyday and perfectly safe. They have to convince people to not believe their own experiences, thoughts and feelings to create the fear.

  10. You know what else is extremely rare? The need to defend yourself or your property with deadly force. But what ends of the earth do you psychopaths not choose to go to in order to defend that right, no matter the social cost?

    1. In this case the two are related: I rarely have to defend myself because those I might need to defend myself against know I am able to defend myself

      To put it another way, someone who wears a condom every time they have sex probably has a very low rate of STDs and unwanted pregnancy, but that is precisely *because* of the condom use, not a reason to discontinue it

      1. I rarely have to defend myself because those I might need to defend myself against know I am able to defend myself

        None of my aggressors knew I was able to defend myself. Several weren’t even in their right minds. At one point, I kept count of how many times I had to defend myself and the members of my family by skinning hides. Eventually, it got to the point that it wasn’t worth the trouble of skinning them.

        1. Of course, all of them walked on four legs and plenty were rabid but, you know, when all your food comes packaged in plastic at the supermarket death and deadly is some sort of rare event that only happens once in a lifetime. Except in Chicago or Afghanistan.

    2. Tony
      September.18.2019 at 4:28 pm
      “You know what else is extremely rare?”

      Yeah, one of your posts which isn’t a lie.

    3. re: “You know what else is extremely rare? The need to defend yourself or your property with deadly force.”

      First some definitions. “Use of deadly force” includes the threat of its use, not just the times when triggers actually get pulled.

      According to the CDC, there are about 2.2 million defensive uses of firearms in the US each year. That measure will overcount some but there are also about 1.2 million successful violent crimes where defensive use was arguably needed but not available. Nevertheless, I will freely concede that given the number of total human interactions that happen each year throughout the US, yes the need to defend yourself or your property with deadly force is very, very rare.

      It’s still pretty close to one million times more common than school shootings.

    4. Tony apparently does not live in Chicago.

      1. Doesn’t Tony live in San Francisco?

  11. In practice, the hunt for red flags can mean that someone loses his Second Amendment rights for a year or more because of a misunderstood (or misrepresented) conversation or because he said something offensive or controversial on social media.

    That ought to be abated in some way, with an appeals process. Are there any red flag rules which do not include an appeals process?

    On the other hand, the red flag approach does have the advantage of putting some onus for gun violence on the folks whose guns enable the violence. That seems fairer than putting it instead on other people who do not own guns, but become victims anyway. That is an improvement, compared to the status quo.

    Nor is the situation as statistically reassuring as the OP would have you believe. By focusing mainly on fatalities (and ignoring entirely an apparent upward trend over time shown by the cited statistics), the OP distracts attention from the fact that shooting injuries resulting in hospital treatment are multiple times more common than fatalities. Factor in those injuries, and you discover that some statistics which previously looked somewhat reassuring, look less so, or even alarming.

    For instance, the OP’s claims that tiny fractions of 1 percent of people will be victimized by shootings can be set alongside an equally well-supported finding that about 2% of all pistols will eventually be used to shoot someone—and that because many pistol owners own more than one pistol, the percentage is yet higher among pistols owners (and that with suicides left out).
    The contrast in results has to do with the fact that the OP is annualizing statistics, and leaving out the injuries. That tends to diminish and disguise the magnitude of the risk that certain kinds of guns impose on society.

    The guns do not serve one-year terms, and then disappear. Because they are made for long service lives, guns hang around for years, with each gun adding its annual increment of social danger. Each gun added to the national arsenal enlarges the overall size of the annual danger increase.

    If you take pistol owners as a statistical group, and do not reckon gun damage annually, but over the life of each gun they own, you find that more than 1 in 50 pistols owners will eventually shoot someone, either fatally or otherwise.

    Claims that gun control advocates are irrationally frightened look misplaced. And demands that gun-shot victims bear the costs of gun culture—and that gun owners be spared any and all inconvenience that might come from policies to reduce those costs—start to look morally repugnant.

    1. My ‘claims’ are simple: we know, from the debates on the Constitution and Bill of Rights that the Second Amendment was passed expressly to ensure that the common citizen had easy, legal access to military grade firearms. Now, that may be a bad idea. But until an Amendment is passed altering the terms of the Second Amendment, any Gun Control laws necessarily violate ‘shall not be infringed’.

      Now, I don’t own any guns. I don’t plan on owning any. But if the Second Amendment can be ignored, because REASONS!, then no part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights is safe. And politicians who advocated unlimited government authority murdered a hundred million people in the 20th Century.

      Propose and work to pass an Amendment allowing gun control, or admit that you want to live in a totalitarian State.

      1. I am not following you Schofield. Pretty much everything you asserted would have been regarded as nonsense prior to Heller. Your advocacy got a boost because the Supreme Court changed the law, not because you got an amendment. Nobody else needs an amendment either, if they can persuade the Court to put the law back where it was.

        1. You need to read a little more history. It goes back farther than the assassination of JFK, farther even than the 20th Century.

          Sure, harking back to the original intent of the framers would have been considered nonsense in 1940. So would the idea of a fully racially integrated military, or any one of a number of things we take for granted.

          Doesn’t change what the Second Amendment was intended to do, or the murderous propensities of authoritarianism.

          1. I think that pre-Heller views of the Second must have been locale specific. For example, I’m an Army brat and so grew up around various military bases in the 50’s/60’s. In those locales the opinion that the Second encompassed an individual right to own just about any gun was not only the majority view, it was pretty much the universal view.

            I think it must be a blind-men-and-the-elephant thing.

    2. Stephen Lathrop
      September.18.2019 at 5:48 pm
      “…That ought to be abated in some way, with an appeals process. Are there any red flag rules which do not include an appeals process?…”

      Doesn’t matter: A-2.

    3. re: “Are there any red flag rules which do not include an appeals process?”

      Believe it or not, there are a few so bad that they have no appeals process. More to the point, there are none that have an adequate appeals process which complies with the Constitution’s requirements.

      Second, I am deeply skeptical of your claim that you have any statistics which can show that “2% of all pistols will eventually be used to shoot someone”. But to the extent that any of those are suicides or suicide attempts, the US approach to mental health is a tragedy – and gun control laws will do nothing to fix that. To the extent that any of the remainder of your statistics include the CDC’s estimated 2.2 million defensive uses of firearms each year, I don’t see those as a problem. If you attack your wife or daughter with a frying pan or a knife and she shoots you, good for her.

      1. Yup, Rossami, more than 1 defensive gun use per week in my little town, or we aren’t doing our share. And yet I have lived here for more than 30 years without reading of even one such defensive gun use in the local police report, or hearing of one via personal acquaintances. Not saying there couldn’t have been a few which passed me by. I am saying that by that reckoning the ~ 2,400 defensive gun uses my town owes to the national 30-year tally cannot possibly have occurred. Nor 240 of them either. If they had, I would have heard of plenty of them.

        But maybe I live in a scene of idyllic non-conflict, and the numbers reflect experience elsewhere. Just remember, if that is true, then those elsewhere places have to jack their numbers yet higher, to account for the shortages in places like mine—a place which folks in neighboring towns think of as kind of down-scale, by the way.

        Please, everyone, when you see remarkable national statistics from quasi-sketchy sources, do some basic math to get a sense of how probable it is that the stats square with everyday experience. By Rossami’s 2.2 million defensive gun uses per year statistic, you have been informed that for every person you personally have known to be a traffic fatality (~ 38,000 per year nationally), you should have in mind also ~ 58 others (58 x 38,000 = ~ 2.2 million) who used a gun defensively to ward off a criminal.

        Have you, over your lifetime, known personally of 3 people killed by automobiles? That means, if Rossami is right, you should know also ~ 174 instances where people you know used guns defensively to prevent crime. What drama that would be!

        Not your experience? Maybe the defensive gun use statistic is not plausible. Maybe it is off by orders of magnitude. And maybe, if they were measured the same way—by telephone surveys inviting gun owners to tell stories—statistics about criminals using guns to commit crimes would be reported a couple of orders of magnitude higher than they are.

        When it comes to gun statistics, the problem for pro-gun advocates is that officially reported instances of defensive gun use yield tiny numbers. Those won’t do the job. So gun advocates make up much bigger numbers, and posit madcap scenes of secret gun drama, to account for why nobody knows about this.

        1. Waitaminit! The CDC is a gun advocate? Who knew?

          A CDC survey estimated around 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year.

          https://reason.com/2018/04/20/cdc-provides-more-evidence-that-plenty-o/

        2. So not only does Stephen offer nothing to support his allegation about “2% of all pistols”, he’s got nothing but unsupported opinion and anecdotes to answer the CDC’s actual scientific survey. From his comments, it’s quite clear that he didn’t bother reading the paper or reviewing their methodology.

          By the way, I’m not saying that their methodology was above all possible reproach. Just that none of Stephen’s attempts to discredit it are relevant given what the researchers actually did.

          1. By the way, I’m not saying that their methodology was above all possible reproach. Just that none of Stephen’s attempts to discredit it are relevant given what the researchers actually did.

            Other than confirmation bias, what method do you have to know what the researchers actually did? Are there transcripts of their telephone interviews? Any description of how many calls they made in an attempt to find gun owners? Any statistical science to relate the locales surveyed to the nation as a whole? Any methodology to quality control answers, and assure that gun owners’ descriptions of defensive gun incidents conformed to the kinds of information sought by the questions asked? Any description of the genesis of this remarkable (utterly out of character for the recent CDC) effort?

            Rossami, had the CDC published the “scientific” survey, I would have read it with respect, and studied it for its methodology. But that did not happen, and what did happen was not clear from the link. One possibility, of course, is that the CDC got a result it did not like, and suppressed the research. I have no doubt that is the only possibility gun advocates will entertain. But I am mindful that the info is coming to me via a long-time gun advocate, not via the CDC itself. I know that for some reason, the CDC did not see fit to publish it. I do not know why. I have no reasonable way to understand what credence to give to what has been reported, either by the CDC itself, or with regard to the gun advocate whose own research findings seems to give him a stake in this controversy. So I withhold judgment.

            While doing that, I proposed the common-sense test noted above, to check whether (if the CDC had research it was willing to stand by) that research could in any way be squared with an informal sample of everyday experience. On that basis, and on the basis of the relatively few defensive gun uses I have heard about both during my personal life, and while practicing a previous career in journalism, I concluded that the 2.2 million figure is probably outlandish. But of course, my conclusion is not science either.

            So let me ask you. How many auto fatalities to people you know have occurred? How many defensive gun uses to prevent crime? Remember, I am asking not for what you think you know in the abstract, but for incidents you know about personally, and to which you can assign names. I am trusting you for an honest answer, and might begin to reassess my own view if you give me one.

            I will put the question to other readers as well. In your experience, what has been the ratio of defensive gun uses which prevented crime among people you actually know, to auto fatalities among the same group?

            1. “In your experience, what has been the ratio of defensive gun uses which prevented crime among people you actually know, to auto fatalities among the same group?”

              Twice as many defensive gun uses as traffic fatalities.

              1. Thank you for that, Absaroka. Let’s see if any others want to chip in, and then see what we might reasonably infer from combined experiences.

                By the way, that ratio is similar to my own experience—except 2 (maybe 3) of the “defensive” gun uses I know about were actually gun threats directed against me by people with no cause whatever to suppose I was a threat. But I would have to count them, because I am sure both would have responded to a telephone survey based on their mis-impressions.

                1. For the record, I didn’t include any unjustifiable shootings as ‘defensive gun uses’. I generally try to avoid associating with violent people.

            2. BTW, a couple of notes on the sampling biases:

              1)The answers are going to strongly depend on how many gun owners you know. I’d imagine that 97% of my friends own cars, and maybe half own guns. If only 10% of your friends own guns, because you live in NYC or whatever, then your experience will be different.

              2)I imagine that I hear about close to 100% of traffic fatalities involving friends. That may not be the case for defensive gun uses; indeed, I only learned of one of six in a fairly prompt manner. The others were mentioned when I had known people for years, and there was some reason to mention it. For all I know, it’s not a complete list – I rather suspect it isn’t.

    4. On the other hand, the red flag approach does have the advantage of putting some onus for gun violence on the folks whose guns enable the violence. That seems fairer than putting it instead on other people who do not own guns, but become victims anyway. That is an improvement, compared to the status quo.

      Oh really?

      Because red flag laws are hardly limited to the street thug and the gangbanger.

  12. Want to greatly reduce mass shootings, especially in schools? Publicize the death pictures of mass shooters killed at the scene; the messier the better. If you have video of their last moments, so much the better, especially if they are obviously in pain. Institute public hangings of mass shooters captured alive. Eliminate the idiotic ‘no guns’ zone around schools. Pass a National Reciprocity law for concealed carry. Lionize citizens who stop a shooter. Hell, unless you can show some kind of collusion, grant an illegal alien who stops a shooter a fast track to citizenship. Come down HARD on police who were on the scene of a shooting who had their thumbs jammed in their backsides.

    And, as a nice gesture, provide blood pressure medication free for Gun Control agitators on the day that bill is passed.

    1. Eliminating no-guns zone – that would work. National reciprocity – yes. Recognizing good shooters – maybe. It doesn’t seem to make much difference when we recognize police so why would recognizing citizens make a difference?

      Public executions (or publication of dead shooters), though? Historical statistics show no measurable deterrent effect back when those policies were common and no noticeable change in the rate of crimes across jurisdictions as those policies were changed. I don’t see any reason to believe that they would have any more deterrent effect now.

      1. Career criminals only rarely commit crimes for the glamour of it all. Mass shooters seem to. Show that it’s a good way to end up screaming your life out from a gut shot, and I really think we’d get fewer copycats.

        1. Not according to any of the profiles of mass shooters that I’ve read. While some of the profiles do show motivations around publicity, they all seem to suggest that the mass shooters either want to die or truly do not believe that it will happen to them. The ones who want to die are not discouraged by the gore. “Pain is temporary. Fame [or infamy] lasts forever.” And the ones who think they’re invulnerable – well, they’re wrong but all the pictures in the world don’t change their minds.

  13. “programs and practices that protect children from gun violence.”

    If they were serious, those programs and practices would be firearms training.
    Nothing says “stay out of my classroom” like the teacher and all students just getting back from the target range.

    1. Another idea: Include a field trip to a large gun show.

    2. Nothing says “stay out of my classroom” like the teacher and all students just getting back from the target range.

      Either a potential shooter suddenly discovers an activity that he’s really good at or he learns that if he decided to shoot up a school the right people are going to get shot.

  14. a skateboard is used to break a window so students can escape, a pair of scissors becomes a defensive weapon

    Or, “a skateboard is used to break a window so the gunman can get in, a pair of scissors becomes an offensive weapon”. BAN SKATEBOARDS AND SCISSORS!!

    1. Wouldn’t it be quite ironic if the next school attack consisted of someone breaking into the school by smashing a window with their skateboard and then stabbing everyone with scissors?

  15. This very year, kids are far, far more likely to be killed in bus crashes than in school shootings.

    Looking at the past decade’s FBI Uniform Crime Reports, homicide by weapon used, in a typical year:
    600 – 800 homicides by assailants using “personal weapons” (described by FBI as hands, fists, feet, etc., i.e. unarmed assailants);
    350 – 400 homicides by assailants using rifles of all identified types.

    AR-15s are a subset of all rifles.
    Active shooter incidents are subset of all homicides.
    School shootings are a subset of all active shooter incidents.
    Looking at potential causes of death, preparing for an active shooter incident in a school setting is preparing for probably the least likely (even if more terrifying) event.

    This very day, you or you kid are more likely to be killed by an unarmed assailant using personal weapons (hands, feet, etc) than be killed by an assailant using a rifle of any sort.

    You are far, far more likely to be killed by medical misadventure than by someone with a gun.
    250 – 400 total homicides by assailants using rifles.
    250,000 – 440,000 deaths per year from medical mistakes (according to Johns Hopkins U, Baltimore MD), 50,000 – 60,000 a year just from pharmacists dispensing the wrong medicine in filling a presecription.

    Crime involves an actor with motive or intent exploiting opportunity and means to do harm. When the means exploited is something owned by millions of people who do no harm, like guns, focussing on means is disproportionate.

    You can make the focus of federal law enforcement guns defined as “assault weapons” and the folks who legally own them, which is going to be horribly expensive with unintended consequences.

    Or you could concentrate on identifying people with motive and intent to do violence and provide security to deny any bad actors known or unknown the opportunity to act.

    1. This very year, kids are far, far more likely to be killed in bus crashes than in school shootings.

      Naaman, for actual big yellow school buses, nationwide, the average annual fatalities between 2007 and 2016 seems to have been 9. Hard to see how it could get much lower. And of course, if gun owners were regulated to the extent that school bus operators and drivers are regulated, the screams of tyranny would deafen bystanders by the millions.

      Add to that the fact that the school bus fleet takes literally tens of billions of automobile passenger-miles off the road each year, and you can see the cost/benefit ratio comparison between private guns and school buses is overwhelmingly in favor of the buses. You ought to look around for a more favorable comparison.

      Also? Fun extra fact: the nation pays about 5 times as much for its private arsenal as it does for its school bus fleets.

    2. Fun with statistics and definitions, from the NHSTA.

      Definitions matter – do you count only kids killed while inside the bus (which gives you roughly Mr. Lathrop’s number), or also count kids that the school bus runs over (which is a much larger number).

      Etc, etc.

    3. Other obscure causes of death.

      (that’s one of those obnoxious listicle sites, but the comment system here won’t allow multiple links so I can’t post direct links to the sources. Also note they mix numbers from the US and worldwide, so click through to the sources)

      A highlight (from the underlying source links):
      “According to the latest report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 41 people — mostly children — were killed by falling TVs in 2011. Since 2000, more than 200 children have died that way.” (there are roughly 20 school shooting deaths per year)

      Dog bites, bystanders killed in police chases, auto erotic asphyxiation, … There are a lot of odd causes of death that are similar in magnitude to school shootings (for kids) or mass shootings (for the populace at large).

      Not cited above, but you can google it: mass shooters and deer both kill roughly the same number of people annually.

      It goes without saying that every untimely death is a tragedy, but it’s also smart to look at the over all risk picture.

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