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April 19, 2007

Dealing with guns
Posted by Teresa at 10:44 AM *

1. Old Jarhead, on amateurs and guns

I’m promoting to the front page a comment that Old Jarhead posted in the “I’m right about everything” thread:

… as I mentioned above, I wrote on the topic of armed amateurs last year when some female attorneys who do family law were concerned about some incidents of violence and wondered if they should buy guns just in case. Since I DO know what it is like to face another human being with a gun in my hand, I wrote this. (…)

Subject: Guns in the Office

If you intend to get a carry permit and pack heat for self protection, you should keep several things close to mind:

1. Unless you have invested the time and money to be well trained in the defensive use of a handgun, don’t carry one.

2. Unless you are willing to spend the money and time to go to the range and fire your weapon at least monthly and at least a box of ammo at that time, don’t carry one.

3. Unless you are certain that you have the emotional and psychological ability to shoot another human being dead, don’t carry one. Do not count on “brandishing” the weapon to frighten the other party into submission - it is far more likely to dramatically increase the level of violence. Do not even consider “shooting to injure”. Unless you are willing to put two rounds, center of mass, into the other person and kill him (usually) dead, you are far more likely to end up the dead or grievously injured one.

4. A handgun is not a magic wand. Displaying it will not cast a spell of caution or calmness on the various parties. A loaded weapon makes people crazy - the person at which it is aimed, the persons who are witnesses, and often the person who is holding it.

5. Unless you are willing to purchase and practice with a handgun that is large enough and packs a sufficient punch to put an attacker down and down now, don’t carry one. In the early 70s a female student at [University] was in her apartment with her daughter when an attacker burst through the door. She had a .22 pistol and shot him 4 or 5 times. He had a .45 and shot her once. He was arrested at the hospital. She was dead.

There are lots of sources of good advice on combination of caliber, proper ammo, and frame size for control.

What it comes down to is that there is no way to prepare for the first time you point a loaded weapon at an identifiable human being and have to pull the trigger. The reason the military does repetitive, mind-numbing training is to try and ingrain the muscle memory and develop the reflexes so that brain does NOT interfere, because if you give it a vote it will pause and then it is too late. Soldiers call the enemy by racial or ethnic names to depersonalize them so that they don’t have to think about the fact that they are killing other people with mothers, fathers, kids, wives, and families. Troops assigned to Special Operations forces or Delta Force fire hundreds of rounds a month because in their job they have to be able to make a split second decision on whether the human in their sights is a target or a hostage or innocent.

The passive defensive measures discussed herein are excellent approaches and will be far more effective in providing security than a sign that says “This family law attorney is protected by Smith & Wesson”.

When I was a young Marine we lived in southern Cal, and one night about 2 am my wife said that she had heard a sound in the garage. I scoffed of course (husbandly response #1), but then I heard the sliding door of the VW van. There WAS someone in the garage. I got up and sneaked to the garage door and peeked - the dome light was on. Heart beat at 120, adrenaline everywhere. As I whispered for my wife to call the cops I saw an arm - a little arm. A 5 y/o girl’s arm! I stormed out into the garage to confront my little daughter and as I demanded an explanation she sobbed that she couldn’t find her bunny rabbit and was looking in the car.

I had numerous weapons in the house - all locked up. After that I asked myself - “If I had had a weapon quickly available would I have gotten it and had it ready?” My answer was “yes”. And then I realized that if I had, I would have been confronting my little girl with a .357 in my hand. Accordingly I have never kept a weapon out of the safe in the house.

Given my background I obviously am not an anti-gun crusader. I believe, however, that the decision to carry a weapon in the office or on the street places an enormous responsibility upon the bearer to obtain excellent training, to commit to frequent practice and refresher training, to choose a weapon ideally suited for you and the purpose, and to stare into the mirror and ask yourself if you could really use it - and if you would make its use a truly last resort.

If you shoot and kill someone in the office you are not going to be celebrated as “Annie Oakley” and carried around the Family Law convention on a sedan chair. You are going to go to a private place and vomit until you don’t think you will ever be able to stand up straight again.

2. From Libby Spencer of Newshogger: Spare me the false bravado:
It’s so easy to be brave if you’ve never actually faced down a gunman. I have. Twice. So I found this fool Derbyshire and his loyal fan’s insipid posts especially offensive. They should keep their adolescent daydreams of glory to themselves until after they’ve looked down the barrel of a gun wielded by a hostile hand.

I was an eighteen year old college student when it first happened to me in the 60s. I was living with housemates in a house on a lake. It was a snowy night in winter and a woman knocked on the door saying she was stuck down the road and asked to use the phone. Of course I let her in. By the time I closed the door, three other guys had followed her and I staring down the barrel of some kind of shotgun. I didn’t have a clue what kind of gun it was. It was big, that’s all I knew.

I did what they said and so did the other five people in the house at the time. We found out later they were junkies from a big city about 20 miles away who had come after hearing an erroneous rumor that we had a large shipment of marijuana in the house. They were total amateurs. They stayed so long that another roommate showed up in the interim. She joined us in lying on the floor, where we had been for the previous 30 minutes. They took anything we had of value in lieu of the non-existent pot, but at least nobody got shot.

The second time, I was in my early 40s. I was in the parking lot of what was then the Star Community Bar in the very center of Little Five Points in Atlanta, GA. A very tall black man jumped out from behind the dumpster and grabbed me from behind in a bear lock. He held a handgun right behind my left ear and said, “You know you a fuckin’ bitch?”

Time slows down in a situation like that, sort of like when you’re in a bad auto accident but you don’t really have a lot of time to think. My first thought was that my daughter was going to be really pissed at me for getting my brains shot out in a parking lot. She told me to leave Atlanta only hours before it happened. My second thought was - shit, this guy is going to kill me.

You go into another realm of consciousness. There’s no word for that level of adrenaline. It’s pure survival instinct. I didn’t fight him. I leaned into the guy’s chest, like a lover would.

“No I’m not. You got the wrong girl,” I said, remarkably calmly. “Please don’t kill me.”

I don’t know why he didn’t just pull the trigger. Maybe that response threw him off. It felt we just stood there in this kind of standoff for a really long time. It was probably only seconds. He didn’t shoot, so I did the next thing that came to mind. I screamed at the top of my lungs. Huge, high pitched screams of pure terror. My own fury scared me. The gun was still at my ear. I can still feel the cold steel even now, as I recount that night.

Six white guys came running down the sidewalk from the plaza. They were hollering but they were a long way away. He still could have shot me long before they could reach us and they didn’t exactly come running over. They were milling around on the sidewalk. I stopped screaming. We all looked at each other.

The guy let me go and started running the other way, down towards the alley. As he was running, he shot off the gun. It wasn’t as loud as I thought it would be. I looked at the guys on the sidewalk. To this day, one of the few regrets I harbor is that I didn’t walk over and thank them for saving my life. I was too stunned. (…)

Derbyshire and his little usefool tool are only right about one thing. Until you’ve been there, you don’t have a clue what it’s like. Until they have, they might want to think twice before publishing such clueless posts.

3. A warning about bog-standard gun arguments

This was a notice I posted at the end of Guns in New Hampshire, 07 November 2002:

Public Notice: Anybody who comes along and posts stupid gnu-control flaming boilerplate in my Comments section will find out about my magic powers to Edit and Delete. I don’t mind being disagreed with, but I hate being bored. Say something new or suffer the consequences. You have been warned.
It may or may not be a coincidence that that was the first Making Light comment thread to break a hundred messages, but the policy stands to this day.
Comments on Dealing with guns:
#1 ::: Julie ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:57 AM:

It's nice to see some thoughtful, considered posts on this topic. I've also been on the business end of a gun - only it was a 12 year-old on the other end. Daddy wouldn't lock up his hunting rifle, and that's what happened. I could have been killed.

I'm not anti-gun; just anti-stupidity.

#2 ::: ACW ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Everything here seems spot-on.

But I got a completely unexpected giggle out of "gnu-control". Sure enough, that's what the caveat on the earlier post says. And I am forced to admit that I have not yet made up my mind about gnu control. The Constitution is inexplicably silent on the subject.

#3 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Public Notice: Anybody who comes along and posts stupid gnu-control flaming boilerplate in my Comments section will find out about my magic powers to Edit and Delete.

Ah, the menace of uncontrolled gnus. When will these maniacs see sense?

#4 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:28 PM:

I think anyone who wants to should be allowed to carry a gnu. At the worst it will keep them occupied and we'll all feel safer as a result.

#5 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Awesome post.

I have not been very level headed about this subject....I've just been too angry.

I've only been held up at gun point once. New years eve 1999. I was a rose girl...so me in a formal dress and coat..carrying a basket of roses and lots of cash in a hidden pocket.

They guy brought his girlfriend over and pointed a gun at me.

I didn't say anything, I calmly raised my fist and knocked on the large window to the police department...thirty cops turned to look at us. The guy gave me the money for a rose and then walked away.

I was extremely scared, I didn't even think. I can't imagine how I even thought about my surroundings.

I've been saving up for a gun...mainly to have in my house. Right now I practice with my BF's. I grew up around guns, I am not afraid of them.

I have only seen one man shot. It bother me because though I saw it. I was there, I heard it , I saw the man fall. Later the police claim that he was just hit with a blunt object and walked out of the hospital.

That bothers me. Blunt objects don't make that noise.

#6 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:43 PM:

What I found most scary about Derbyshire's comment is his own admission that he's a LOUSY shot even though he practices regularly.

I haven't fired a gun in several years, in part because I know I'm not willing to keep in practice. (On the whole, I'd rather be biking. Or reading. Or whatever.)

But I got better with practice. Derbyshire, by his own admission, does not.

Which means that if he were the CCW person in Jamie Bishop's classroom, the damage would have been even more severe, with more bystanders endangered.

#7 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:44 PM:

gnu control (for those not familiar) was a dodge used on the USENET r.a.sf.* hierarchy (mostly in .written and .fandom, AIR) to dodge various searches (people would search for "gon control" and go in and make barely reasoned, ill-thought out, ranting and screaming arguments, about gnu control, on USENET? Say it ain't so!).

It's outlasted many of our actual stays on USENET, naturally enough.

#8 ::: JanetM ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:45 PM:

I've been on the right side of a gun (that is, I was holding it). I didn't have to pull the trigger, and for that I thank all the gods. I tell myself that I could have if I'd needed to, but looking back on it from nearly 20 years distance, I no longer know.

I was coming home late, late one night. I stopped to turn left onto my street; a truck stopped behind me. I turned; he turned. I went past the first cross street; he turned off.

I thought, "Oh, just a coincidence."

I pulled into my driveway; he came around the block and pulled in behind me. I sat for a minute in my locked car; he sat.

I came to the conclusion that he did not have my best interests in mind. Given that I was carrying a gun on a regular basis at that time (yet another long story), I took it out of its case and got out of the car, holding it at my side.

He got out of his truck and said, "Don't be afraid of me, little girl."

I reaffirmed my earlier conclusion, brought the gun into a shooting stance, and said, "I'm not."

He got back in his truck, closed and locked the door, and put his hands up on the windshield. (I find that last a very telling action.)

I backed away as far as the gate to the courtyard, ran through it and to my apartment, and locked myself in.

I was then dive-bombed by a palmetto bug the size of my hand, and if weren't for the fact that my dad taught me good gun etiquette and I'd taken my finger off the trigger while I was running, I'd have blown a hole in my damn ceiling. I spent the remainder of the night locked in my bathroom, whimpering, and got a neighbor to capture and release the bug in the morning.


I think that Old Jarhead has the right of it, and his recommendations make good sense. I hope I'm never in a situation where I find out for myself.

#9 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Oh, wow. Teresa Nielsen Hayden vs. Firearms Stupidity Field. Honey, bring the popcorn!

I don't know, really, that I have something new to say to this, but, let's see. It seems to me that the USA has a violence problem, which the firearms (and firearms industry) support. The violence problem, in turn, is aggravated by bellicosity--the USA has a nasty habit of getting into wars every generation or so--and, very specifically, by anti-drug laws.

On another track, what Old Jarhead describes what might be a basic fair training requirement for the universal state militias the Framers envisioned, and the states declined to fund. Perhaps it's time to dust off the old ideas and take another look. I think 'nam and Iraq have more than adequately shown that, just as the Framers feared, a standing army in the hands of the Federal government is an enormous and expensive temptation to military adventuring. Would the USA instead be better off with a network of state requirements?

#10 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Things that don't bother me:

1) Widespread gun ownership.

I grew up in a rural area with an enormous number of firearms--hunting rifles, shotguns, handguns, you name it. And these guns were owned by a wide range of people, including idiot teenagers, drunks, self-proclaimed rednecks, and hard-core poachers.

Now, all this sounds like it should be terrifying. But in fact, none of it ever bothered me. At least in a gun-owning rural culture, people tend to get saner in the presence of firearms. Pointing a gun at someone is as unthinkable as swerving a car into oncoming traffic.

2) Concealed-carry permits.

In most states, getting a concealed-carry permit requires filling out a stack of paperwork and taking firearm safety courses. People who go through this process are predisposed to be responsible, and empirically tend to be the sort of people whom you wouldn't mind carrying guns.

Things that scare the living daylights out of me:

1) Inexperienced urban handgun owners.

If you're going to own a gun, you need to be familiar with firearms. That means training and practice. The accident rates for urban handgun owners are terrifying, because so few of them know what they're doing.

2) Self-defense nutjobs starring in their own private movies.

You know the type: "Well, if somebody invaded my home, I'd blahblahblah clear the house blahblahblah tactical light blahblahblah..." And they never stop worrying about these scenarios. Somethin' just ain't right with these folks.

#11 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Gnus can be very dangerous, you know, especially when they stampede!

I shot a gun (replica of an 1860 Colt .44, lead ball and black powder) for the first time recently, and it was a very interesting experience. Granted, modern handguns are considerably easier in many ways--loading doesn't require a great deal of upper arm strength, they often rechamber automatically and don't jam as readily, and they're a lot lighter--but the first post you quote here in particular rings true to me.

If you aren't going to put in serious practice with any weapon (or unarmed self-defense technique), you shouldn't rely on being able to defend yourself with it in an emergency (this goes pretty strongly for people who carry knives for "self-defense," too, because knife fights are very nasty, up-close-and-personal, maiming-likely things). It even goes for commonly taught self-defense techniques like eye-gouging (which most people have a strong block against actually doing).

#12 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Gnus are a little heavy to carry around, though. Unless we're going to raise miniature ones.

====

I agree Old Jarhead's post is extremely well-thought out and makes good sense.

I've been close to gunfire, though never had it directed at me, nor had a gun held on me. I've lived in some pretty dicey neighborhoods, though. Ones where you know which rooms are least likely to accidentally contain bullets, for instance, and move there when the nightly gunfire starts.

Closest I've been is a gunfight that started in an alley, say... 100 feet or so away from me. I didn't take time to really look. I teleported to my front door instead. Or at least ran far faster than I realized I could -- I think it took maybe 3 seconds for me to cover the 30 or 40 yards to the door.

So, I can't say how I'd react if faced with someone with a gun who was, if not intent on shooting me, at least potentially willing to. I'd like to think that if I knew the person was going to shoot, I'd try something like rushing him just in hopes my largish mass would a) protect me and b) knock him over. But I don't know if I could.

In part this is because working retail jobs has drilled into me the idea that you cooperate with the person with the gun, should it happen. In a robbery, that's probably the best thing you can do: open the drawer, hand over the money, let them take what goods they want, and hope they aren't crazy.

Obviously, a madman intent on shooting whomever is in their path is a far different proposition. But whether or not I could recognize that was what was going on and not freeze up, well, until and unless it happens to me, I'll never know.

As far as gun ownership goes, I refuse to have one. I don't like 'em, I don't want them around me, I don't even want to learn to shoot one. I've had rudimentary gun safety taught me, but it didn't involve handling a gun. "The gun is always loaded even if you don't think it is.", "Don't point it unless you mean it."... that sort of thing. On the off chance I were to allow a gun in the house, there'd be a gun locker.

But I won't tell someone else not to own one. They exist, I can't change that, so the best I can hope for is good education about them (hence the suggestion in the other thread) and that more people who have them are sane than not.

#13 ::: Jenny ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:50 PM:

That was an excellent post by Old Jarhead. I've been thinking about it all day, and I'm glad you called attention to it, Teresa.

Old Jarhead, could you describe 'the passive defensive measures' for protecting yourself against an attacker that you mention in your comment? That sounds like damned useful information.

All I really retain from a long-ago self-defence course is that if someone attacks you in the street you should not yell 'Help!' but rather 'Fire!'. (People may not come out of their houses to assist another person in danger, but they certainly will if they think their property is alight... it's probably counter-indicated if you are threatened by someone with a gun, in case they perceive 'Fire' as an instruction...)

#14 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 12:55 PM:

Expanding on "Old Jarhead" a bit -- it matters a lot *how* you practice, precisely because you're likely to do what you practiced in an emergency. I'm deeply suspicious of IPSC and IDPA competition as a good simulation, for example (unless you ignore your competitive standing and just use the opportunity to practice good gun handling on the move -- and even then you're not allowed to do things that are important in the real world).

Some of the most important practice can happen with an unloaded gun at home -- in fact, most ranges won't *let* you draw from concealment and fire, so you pretty much *have* to do that without live ammo.

(For those who don't know me, I've been a certified Minnesota and Utah concealed carry instructor, and an NRA instructor in courses including personal protection in the home. I've never been in the military or police.)

#15 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:04 PM:

The last apartment we had was a nice little unit, next to a slightly larger, slightly less nice one. One night, somebody was trying to communicate with the next-door apartments by horn code. Two honks for "I'm out here in the parking lot," two more for "I'm still out here in the parking lot," and so on. They were well into the "and so on" stage when I got tired of it and went out.

I had a brief dialog with the people in the car: something like "They're not coming out, and that's kind of annoying," so they went to try the door and I turned to go back in. My neighbor from the next apartment was there, and said I must be pretty brave to go out like that with nothing backing me up. He showed me his backup: a large pistol tucked into the back of his running shorts. Other neighbors were standing around. One of them said something that seemed to me to indicate that he might have some hardware on him too.

I went back inside. I seem to recall being at a loss for a reply.

#16 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:05 PM:

When I was a teenager, living in rural Jamaica, I had to travel some distance to get to school. The driver of my school bus (a minibus, btw), a private contractor, picked me up one morning because I was at the stop early and he was on his way to the end of the route. At the end of the route, he stopped at a filling station. As he got out of the bus, I saw a gun in his waistband (a .38 revolver, as I recall). I commented on it, and he took it out and showed it to me, speaking of needing a gun 'for protection'.

That night I mentioned this, in all innocence, to my father. After he stopped raging, he sat down and wrote a letter to the headmaster saying, in essence, that he did not want his son driven by an idiot who'd carry a gun in a bus filled with teenagers, and who'd pull it out to show it off.

For the rest of that academic year, I rode on a different bus, which had to make a special stop for me. I also gained the opprobrium of my schoolmates, who felt that my father was making a big fuss about nothing.

A month later, he, the driver that is, got the contract to carry the school's football team to an away match in Montego Bay. Our team lost. The driver was standing by the bus as the match ended, and was jeered by supporters of the rival school. Finding this unpleasant he pulled out his revolver. This resulted in his being laughed at. He shot one of the people taunting him. Then he realised that he had five bullets in the gun, and a very angry crowd bearing down on him. He jumped in the minibus and drove off, only to be caught in traffic.

The crowd caught up with him, pulled him from the bus, and beat him to death. Had there been police present to rescue him from the crowd he might have met an identical fate in the lock-up, as the man he'd shot was a policeman's son.

When my father learnt of this, he commented that the man had died of stupidity. I have never doubted that judgment.

#17 ::: fred ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Notes on the Second Amendment:

Hezbollah, a well-regulated militia in tiny Lebanon, successfully resisted an invasion by one of the world's most powerful armies in the summer of 2006. A well-regulated militia, in place of a standing army, would likely serve America well in terms of homeland security. Imperial ambitions would have to be discarded along with overseas bases, but one immediate effect of that would be a reduction in foreign enmity.

On the other hand, the arms and arms-related industries in the United States are important contributors to the national wealth. Additionally, the American Department of Defense is probably the world's largest employer.

#18 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:29 PM:

Pistols *are* the anti-seatbelt of safety measures. Fun to shoot, oh yes. Good to know how to handle them safely, sure. I think Mrs. Mjfgates even still has her concealed carry permit up to date. But ... carry one for SAFETY? That's just betting against the odds.

#19 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:39 PM:

You know, I've fired a gun, (.357 at paper targets and shotgun at skeet as well as several summers of BBs at paper targets) and been glad for the opportunity to do so, but I can't say I'm very sympathetic to the idea that gun ownership is an acceptable thing in an urban environment.

It's a regular feature in our local paper to run stories like this:

Homicides reported by city police through
11:59 p.m. Tuesday:
116
Total for the same period in 2006: 104

For a map showing homicides in Philadelphia for 2006, along with articles about urban violence, visit http://go.philly.com/violence

Tuesday was the 107th day of the year.

Stories about someone getting killed in a gun battle with another armed participant are undoubtedly tragic to the families and loved ones of the dead, but they just don't have the weight of stories that include the phrases "stray", "toddler", or "mass".

Now, although you frequently hear tragic stories about toddler death or injury from things other than bullets, and although a mass killer could in theory use weapons that did not fire little metal projectiles, in practice the existence of these tragedies depends critically on the availability of firearms in an urban environment.

#20 ::: LL ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:39 PM:

I'm not a cop, but I imagine that one of the worst things a cop could think of is having a little gun-packing "helper" at the scene of a shooting. My suspicion is that any civilian brandishing a gun in a situation like that is going to get shot by police, probably fatally. If I'm remembering correctly, a civilian did try to "help" police at the scene of a shooting at a courthouse in the Ft. Worth area a couple years ago. He had a gun. The guy who killed him (who had already shot his own wife and son) was wearing body armor and had a semiauto rifle. If you're ever unfortunate enough to be at the scene of a shooting, just get the hell down and try to stay out of the way. Otherwise, you're just making the cops' jobs more difficult.

#21 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Good post, especially the piece by Old Jarhead. In the mid-1980s I began target shooting at a range in Westchester with friends. They bought be a .22 rifle and I joined a range in NYC. I liked shooting but not the interest of people watching me as carried the gun case to the range in Manhattan on the subway. I eventually decided to give up the rifle. I agree with Old Jarhead -- I wasn't prepared to practice often enough to really shoot well and I wasn't sure I could shoot to kill and knew I shouldn't keep the rifle in my apartment in that case.

#22 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:41 PM:

Someone else can probably comment with more authority on this, but, given that the original idea was to not have a standing army, and to have an active and well-drilled militia, I suspect (and this is *my* opinion; YMMV) that the second amendment was intended to keep the militia supplied with armed warm bodies, more than it was to assure the legality of hunting (NRA notwithstanding, and possibly also not with standing). Today the people who wrote that would probably say that means everyone wanting to carry would have to belong to the Guard, the reserves, the local police or sheriff's department, or *their* reserve units, and *practice their shooting* frequently.

Old Jarhead: nice comment. Nodded lots while reading.

#23 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:57 PM:

One of my favorite aspects of the "Kino no Tabi" series of Japanese novels is that the main character, an expert shot, is shown practicing every day.

It's not just mentioned that they practice every day. It's included any time the normal daily or nightly preparations are described. "Got up, had breakfast, practiced draws." "Took a shower, practiced draws."

A lot of other books with gun-expert main characters don't ever show practice, or make it clear how central practice is to that person's daily life. Whenever that is done, I appreciate it.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Remember TV show The Avengers? A few years ago, I read that Steed's character never used firearms because actor Patrick Macnee refused to, if I remember correctly. He had had his fill of guns during the War.

#25 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Never been in a gun confrontation yet but have been in enough violent defend myself situations that in hindsight I know a gun would not have made me safer and never will. Even at the height of my paranoid hate against the world I want revenge stage I knew a gun was a express ticket to stupid death.
I just don't understand the delusion of guns being the first choice for defense in people that have never had to fight to survive either.
A gun to me is a clear symbol that you are not in control and are a prisoner of fear.
The militia trained husband's gun, given to us by friends when they started having kids, remains locked in its case in the back of the closet behind storage boxes without ammo to this very day.

#26 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:18 PM:

I've had my home broken into 7 times in the last 13 years*. Those neighbors are now in jail, for a long time, but the feeling of violation still makes me a little tense/anxious at times.

I wouldn't/can't carry concealed because 1)I haven't got around to taking the class and 2)I work in places where you are proscribed from carrying. I do own interesting variety of guns, and the university I attended regularly wins NCAA rifle competitions. We like our guns. We also respect them as the tools they are.

For home defense, I have a nasty baseball bat and a shotgun. The shotgun is loaded with alternating one-ought, slug, and flare rounds. I honestly hope to never have to use either. I have a shotgun for the home because I don't have to do much more than point in the general direction of what I'm trying to hit. I don't go to the range like I should (John does), so I know my marksmanship isn't what it should be. I would be a menace to myself and everyone else.

*I have two cats. I buy catnip in the bulk foods section of the grocery store. Consequently, catnip can be found in little baggies in various drawers throughout my house. The last time the house was ransacked we discovered that every bag of catnip was gone. I still smile when I think of those idiots trying to light up on my catnip.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Who were your neighbors, Tania? The Furry Freak Brothers?

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:29 PM:

Tania... If I felt the need for a firearm for home defense, I'd go for a shotgun. Less likely to miss, and less likely to have a bullet land a few blocks away and inside someone else's body. Our home is not defenseless though. I have four dogs. Mind you, they look like they belong with Yukon Cornelius's team, but they sure make a racket. I also have a reproduction gladius. The edge isn't very sharp, but the miscreant wouldn't know that. And the point is sharp.

#29 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:39 PM:

The thing I keep wanting to say, as an addendum to Old Jarhead's lovely piece, is that the idea of people with guns- especially, God save us all, sleep-deprived, hung-over, coffee pickled and academically stressed subadult primates (of which I own two, nearly 19 and nearly 21)- should be sufficient to frighten any sane person, but the behavior of a fired bullet in an crowded building with poor sightlines and, most likely, hollow wall interior construction should frighten the crazy and the dead.

Bullets are hard to stop (don't people watch Myth Busters, for goodness sake?) and fired bullets can have their course changed in unpredictable ways before they loose sufficient energy to be harmless. Rifle bullets can penetrate a frightening thickness of building materials before they stop. Hand gun bullets can easily retain killing power when fired through standard drywall and hollow core doors. A woman advocating for wide-spread concealed carry permits used the Killeen Luby's shooting as an example of a place where private guns would have cut the death count, and said she, herself, had locked her .38 in the car before she went into the restaurant; one of the things notoriously not good for stopping bullets is the human body- even if the brave armed citizens had managed to hit the shooter, how many people were behind him?

#30 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:41 PM:

I'll say again that Old Jarhead's post is well worth reading. I'm glad Teresa brought it up to top level; it'll get the wider audience it deserves.

And I'd like to reiterate and expand here something I said in the "But we must also not lose sight" thread. To consider yourself skilled with any hand weapon you must have recent practice, and that practice must include the way the weapon will actually be used (this principle is not restricted to firearms). If you're going to be shooting paper targets, then range practice is all you need, but if you intend to defend yourself in a chaotic situation, then you need to practice drawing and firing at moving targets, and you must practice distinguishing friend from foe. Otherwise you could be even more dangerous to bystanders than the homicidal maniac with a gun you want to stop.

I was in the Army for 3 years, and in Vietnam for 1. I qualified on a number of weapons, and was really familiar with several of them. But that was 40 years ago, and I have not maintained my skills. So as far as I'm concerned, I'm back to amateur status; I would need to practice for some time before I would even be proficient at handling a firearm again, and that still would not regain any proficiency in combat. What I have retained, what anyone can expect to retain over time, is some understanding of the requirements for using a weapon, and enough familiarity that relearning the old skills can be done.

#31 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Serge - a sharp sword or a dull sword make little real difference - a dull sword, used properly, is just as debilitating, and easier on the rugs. Although they are still woefully difficult (psychologically) to plunge into someone. And it likely still gets to count as excessive force.

I much prefer a stick, and knowing how to use it. It's amazing how much less a stick says "deadly weapon" than, say, a deadly weapon. And deadly weapons don't calm anything down.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Paul Lalonde @ 30... I heartily agree. Let's put it this way. The gladius is not a light-weight thing, but I can easily handle because I work out. If I swung it at someone, blunt edge or sharp edge, something would break, and it wouldn't be the blade.

#33 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:03 PM:

All this talk about gnus.

I can't help myself. I would if I could, believe me. But I can't.

#34 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Serge - we had a juvenile delinquent one road over and a drug house two lots down. The juvenile foolishly offended again once he was over 18. He's still in the local correctional center. The drug dealer finally got busted. Turns out that being in Alaska was a violation of his Texas parole, so he was extradited. The house belonged to his mother. One of my neighbors bought the property and razed the place to the ground.

Since the arrests, we haven't had a lick of crime in the neighborhood. We did have a drunk and naked stripper running down the road at 2 AM last summer, but she's one of our neighbors, and a really nice person. John volunteered himself to make sure that she didn't need any help. She didn't.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:10 PM:

I was 'amused' when I moved to New Mexico to see that one bookstore felt the need to warn us that firearms weren't allowed within the premises.

"That book is MINE, you creep."
"I saw it first."
"Step away from it or else..."

#36 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Anyone else reminded of the "Pass the mustard!" cartoon from long ago?

#37 ::: Robin Lionheart ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:21 PM:

So it's like Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel-san about karate: "Karate do yes, okay. Karate do no, okay. But karate do maybe, clshk! Squish like bug!"

#38 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:42 PM:

I hear people say carrying a gun makes/would make them feel "safe".

Visit Darwin Awards and search for the words "gun" or "shoot"... You will find a long list of accounts of how guns combined with stupidity and alcohol kill gun owners.

Examples:
----------
(28 February 2000, Texas) A Houston man earned a succinct lesson in gun safety when he played Russian roulette with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Rashaad, nineteen, was visiting friends when he announced his intention to play the deadly game.

He apparently did not realize that a semiautomatic pistol, unlike a revolver, automatically inserts a cartridge into the firing chamber when the gun is cocked.

His chance of winning a round of Russian roulette was zero, as he quickly discovered.
http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2000-04.html
----------

(21 December 1992, North Carolina)
Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, when, awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.
http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin1993-10.html

#39 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:43 PM:

The last time the house was ransacked we discovered that every bag of catnip was gone.

Are you sure you weren't being burgled by cats?

#40 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:46 PM:

[strikes forehead]

Cat-burglars, obviously.

#41 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:54 PM:

P J Evans, #21: The second amendment, so far as I know, was intended to protect the right of the states to form militias. The 1792 Militia Act provided the bodies, requiring all "free able-bodied white male" citizens of ages 18-45 to serve and provide their own kit; both responsibilities were widely resented and resisted.

Fred, #17: Modern weaponry makes it very expensive to hold an unwilling population, but it is, I think, still possible, if the conquerers are willing to undertake strategies that involve many many deaths. It may be, now, that the increasingly unification of the world makes all wars civil wars, with all the horrors that entails.

The USA has a national as well as a personal violence problem. We'd be a healthier nation if we were less militaristic. But, thinking over my off-the-cuff initial remarks, I think giving each of the 50 states its own modern military would make matters worse. What to do, hoom, hom, ...

#42 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:56 PM:

#10 Eric, I've taken the Ohio Concealed Carry Course. Of the 11 of us in the class, I trust none of them in such a situation to use their firearm in self defense if I, or anybody else is standing near, around, or behind. Truly.

If you don't know muzzle disipline, or know what I am saying with that phrase (the course didn't cover it, and I know very few hunters who even understand how to safely carry their firearms while hunting, so muzzle disipline is right out), please do not, repeat, do not draw your firearm while I am around. Even if some other butt wipe if firing at me.

#43 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:09 PM:

candle @ #38 & #39 - Hah! ::snort:: I'll have to pass that on to John tonight. He'll appreciate it.

#44 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:11 PM:

In California, you have to take a certified handgun safety course to be able to buy a handgun. I took the course a couple years ago. The guy who taught it started by telling us a bit about how he came to know guns... Grew up on a farm, started shooting in competitions, quite good... Was made a sniper by the army. Went to Korea. Came back and did not pick up another gun for years.

He paused for a moment or so, then. Old guy, events more than 50 years ago, shooting for his country... It still got to him.

...Anyway, one of the things that he mentioned was that it was intensely stupid to have a sign up like "This house protected by Smith and Wesson." Because stolen guns are worth a lot, and there you are, advertising you have guns to steal.

#45 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Steve Buchheit @ 41

I've remarked on muzzle discipline above, as in "Get that rifle out of my face!" There's another piece of it that should be absolutely explicit in any firearms training course, the knowledge of how to carry and safe a weapon. First: automatic weapons require you to ask three questions before you can know how to handle them at that moment:

1) Is the magazine locked and loaded? If no, then there still might a live round in the weapon, so you have to know,

2) Is there a round in the chamber? The only way to know this for sure is to pull the slide back and look. And the safest way to carry an automatic pistol with a loaded magazine is with the slide back, so you know damn well there's nothing up the spout. Of course that means you lose a second or two jacking the slide when you need to use the weapon, but that slide can be worth its weight in toes.

3) Is the safety on? If you're carrying an unsafed weapon, it better be because you think you'll need to use it soon. This is where muzzle discipline becomes vital.

I've pulled MP duty where I was required to carry a locked and loaded pistol; you can bet it was safed and holstered at all times unless there was a real need for me to hold it, and as long as it was out it was at high port (I never had to use a weapon on MP duty, thank the Norns, since I'd probably have had to shoot a US soldier.)

And if you're not prepared to be that conscientious about handling a weapon at all times, then you shouldn't be carrying one.

#46 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:43 PM:

#44 Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers, yeah and verily. I was also thinking of a situation where someone is shooting, some yahoo has their concealed carry weapon behind me drawn, the shooter pauses and I run for harder cover while screaming like a little girl, I don't want to catch a bullet in the side or back because the yahoo didn't know to watch for friendly movement in front of them and couldn't or didn't know to point the muzzle in a safe direction when the target was occluded.

Also, I sometimes joke about gnu control is the ability to hit what you're aiming at. I've seen the capabilities of hunters and gnu nuts. I do not feel safe with their determination of their ability (Old Jarhead's practice standards are the basic minimum).

I also had a similar experience on the range part of our concealed carry course, guy was a lifetime hunter about 35. He didn't safety his gun before turning from pointing downrange and he wasn't pointing it toward the ground. I was two people away, fortunately for him.

#47 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:47 PM:

As I was going into the bank a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a sticker on the front door glass. It was a picture of a handgun with the red circle and bar indicating "No".

I thought that sign was the silliest thing I'd ever seen. After all, they didn't make cops disarm (not allowed), and a good concealed carry would likely not even be noticed, so what was the point?

Gaaah.

#48 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:52 PM:

fred,

Hezbollah, a well-regulated militia in tiny Lebanon, successfully resisted an invasion by one of the world's most powerful armies in the summer of 2006. A well-regulated militia, in place of a standing army, would likely serve America well in terms of homeland security.

ask lebanese sunni, druze, & christians how they feel about hezbollah's "protection."

in fact, hezbollah seems like an excellent argument that militias are no good for democracy.

#49 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:57 PM:

I was on my high school's clay pigeon shooting team, so (very unusually for Britain) I handled shotguns regularly as a teenager. My school had never had an accident and intended to keep it that way, and safety was drilled into us. If I remember rightly, someone was kicked off the team for once closing an (unloaded, I think) shotgun while someone was standing in front of him.

That was fun, and it did teach me a lot about guns, although that information is useless to about 99% of the population in Britain anyway, as almost nobody hunts with either rifle or shotgun.

Since moving to the US I've come to an understanding of the American mentality around guns, and a sort of acceptance of it. I think the 2nd Amendment is pretty clear, although I think more careful checks on gun purchases could be made without meaningful infringement on it; but I think there's no consensus for either more or less gun control (or for the status quo) and as such there's no real way to change the current situation. I do think it's interesting that the 2nd Amendment is such an absolute right when the lack of regulation clearly infringes on the unalienable right to life stated in the Declaration of Independence, for example.

But I also think that any regulation compatible with the 2nd Amendment would not have had any effect on the Virginia Tech shootings anyway. Such regulation might reduce the numbers of murders, accidents & impulse-suicides, but wouldn't stop a case like this, or like Columbine.

So I think guns are interesting and I'm not afraid of them, but I also don't make any effort to be around them - largely because the kinds of people who do make an effort to be around guns tend strongly to be the kind of people I don't want to be around (no offense intended to any of the exceptions present here, mind you).

The other reason I avoid guns is that many people here in the US do not have gun safety drilled into them the way I did. I've had (unloaded) guns pointed in my direction, which I find a completely terrifying experience I'm uninterested in repeating.

Columbine was shocking to me and really made me question the sanity of a country that lets just about anyone own handguns. But Americans - or a sufficiently large proportion of Americans to block any real change - essentially shrugged it off. I think that's why, this time with these shootings in Virginia, while I'm obviously horrified, my take is essentially: well, this is the direct consequence of the lack of consensus on gun control in this country, and that is evidently acceptable to a large number of people. Those people have shown themselves willing to block any change; then so be it. This is the price for the 2nd Amendment, I guess. And I sure as hell hope I never get randomly selected to pay it.

I find the incidentals in this case more telling than anything to do with the guns. For example, this guy was alienated, hostile, and could probably have used more help than he received. Of course, many of us were alienated and hostile and could have used more help when we were teenagers or in college, and we didn't go on killing sprees; the answer is certainly not to try to pick out future spree-killers from the troubled. But what would help, statistically, is reducing the number of troubled young people in the first place.

Another is the usual bit about there being plenty of other ways to kill people. There are, for sure, but there's a reason guns exist, there's a reason armies and police forces equip their members with them, and of course there's a reason why gun owners buy them. The most direct example of this, for me, came in 1996 in Britain: there were two attacks at primary schools, one with a machete, and one with a handgun. In the former case, although at least one person was horribly wounded, nobody was killed. In the latter, sixteen children and a teacher were killed. No argument that other weapons are as deadly as handguns can be made by any reasonable person, in my opinion.

#50 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 04:58 PM:

i fired a weapon once (uzi, hit nothing) when i was in basic training (idf, as it happens, though that has no bearing on my previous comment).

during the next two years, i was around lots of semiautomatic weapons, though i didn't carry one, touched them, just about had one dropped on my head, but never ever had one pointed at me. even though the guns were never loaded, & we were nearly all stupid teenagers.

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Randolph @ 40

Also why the age ranges on that first census (white males under 16, 16-45, over 45: they weren't asking for fun, they wanted to know what the potential callup was).

Not that having a gun and being in the militia guaranteed anything: one of my great-great-grandfathers was in the Union militia in KY in 1863; he was out in the field, his gun was (I suspect) against the fence, and the CSA raiders shot him and took the team. They broke the gun over the gatepost, too, but that was repairable (not done until the 1930s though; muzzle-loading KY rifle, very nice but not ornamented, now in possession of a museum - because my brother won't have firearms in his house, even family heirloom antiques).

#52 ::: trrll ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 05:34 PM:

I've faced a gun twice. In neither case would having my own gun have helped me. My assailant already had his gun out before I had a chance to respond.

For a while, I carried a knife. I gave it up because I eventually concluded that it was making me less safe rather than more. What I found was that in a dangerous situation, my hand tended to reach for the knife before my brain even had time to evaluate the situation. That did two things--occupy a hand that I might need to protect myself, and potentially signal an attacker that I was armed. I concluded that I was better off with both hands free, and that if I wanted to carry a weapon, I'd need a lot of training to learn not to reach for the weapon automatically. A relative of mine was grabbed from behind in a parking lot. She already had her gun in her hand before she realized that her "attacker" was a playful child. She also decided not to carry.

This is not to diminish the potential value of a weapon, but I think that most people do not realize the amount of training required to turn a weapon--especially a carried weapon--from a liability into an asset.

#53 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:12 PM:

trrl #51: What I found was that in a dangerous situation, my hand tended to reach for the knife before my brain even had time to evaluate the situation. That did two things--occupy a hand that I might need to protect myself, and potentially signal an attacker that I was armed.

In all this conversation about guns, and especially with that comment, I keep being reminded of the bit in the Death Proof part of Grindhouse, where three of the ladies are trying to argue that the fourth shouldn't carry a gun. They bring up statistics about how people carrying guns get shot more often, they bring up mace ("Guy's trying to rape me, I don't want to give him a rash, I want to kill him"), and then one says, "Well, why don't you carry a knife?" And the one with the gun gives her a look, and says, "You know what happens to people who carry knives? They get shot."

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Here in the UK, legal ownership of guns is incredibly tightl;y vontrolled, by general US standards.

And I have seen insanely stupid gun-handling by British police officers.

I was taught the basics by my Grandfather, who had carried a rifle, and later a Lewis Gun, in the First Workld War. And the two most basic rules are that a gun is always loaded, and you don't point a gun at anything you don't want a bullethole in.

Now, my Grandfather finished the war as a Serjeant, and, not unsurprisingly, I was tempted to express my view of the situation in a loud voice, with a soldier's vocabulary. But they were Police Officers, and I decided instead to go someplace else, on the other side of several brick walls.

Now, the British police offciers who are actually trained and authorised to use guns maybe aren't so stupid, but I know of people who have had similar experiences. Cowboys and frigging indians with real guns!

And if somebody was doing that in front of an armed British cop, they'd likely get shot.

Me, I was a farmer. People with guns aren't something unfamiliar. But there are people in this country who will call the police when they see the army on a training exercise (it wasn't a gun, it was a surface-to-air missile system).

Stupidity, and hydrogen. And I'm not sure which is more common.

#55 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:24 PM:

As I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before hereabouts, I have myself been on the wrong end of a gun. Wielded by a distraught libertarian lawyer. In a dispute over ownership of a post-office-box key.

While eating my breakfast cereal.

That was a story.

I've also shot guns at a firing range. It was fun. I'd do it again. But I believe every single word in Old Jarhead's post.

#56 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:43 PM:

"If somebody was doing that in front of an armed British cop, they'd likely get shot."

This is always one of the funny things, to me, about that whole "when guns are illegal only criminals will have guns" thing, which I had a lot of confused Americans bring up to me when Dunblane happened and handguns were completely banned in Britain.

Most criminals in Britain don't use guns. Because when you commit a crime with a gun, the heavily armed police (SO19, in London, special firearms squads in other places) tend to arrive and kill you. For one thing, because no honest citizens carry guns holding one is roughly equivalent to carrying a large sign reading "I AM A DANGEROUS LUNATIC, PLEASE SHOOT ME."

This may be a chicken-and-egg issue, of course: maybe most criminals don't carry guns because most criminals don't carry guns, and therefore those that do merit a response with disproportionate and frequently lethal force from the police. I'm certain that the American situation, where many many criminals carry guns (as I learnt from COPS), would not be the same, but in the event of a (currently unconstitutional and unsupported) handgun ban, the situation could evolve to be similar.

The other amusing (to me) response to the ban was, well with this handgun ban the British are now unable to defend their homes! But of course that was the situation before the ban, too. Even if you had a gun, you had to keep it locked away such that it would be useless for defence, you certainly couldn't carry it ready to use, and in any case the use of lethal force in defending against mere property crimes is widely considered reprehensible. If you stated "home defense" as your motivation for wanting to own a gun you'd be treated as dangerously nutty and you certainly wouldn't be allowed to have one.

That's Britain, of course, insert the usual disclaimers here.

#57 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:44 PM:

I think gnus should be regulated much the same way we regulate cars and car operation -- you have to register the c/a/r/gun, you have to pay for regular registration updates, you have to pay for insurance, and you have to pass a fairly stringent set of tests where you demonstrate proficiency (marksmanship) and knowledge of laws concerning usage (gun safety, legal issues, first aid for gunshot wounds).

All of this would go towards that well-regulated militia the Founding Fathers were thinking about, and keep guns in the hands of the responsible.

#58 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:52 PM:

"You are going to go to a private place and vomit until you don’t think you will ever be able to stand up straight again."

to which I would add, you can also expect to relive the shooting hundreds of times, in nightmares and waking dreams. This will have an effect.

As a conscript I was trained in all kinds of weapons, from handguns through Uzis and AK-47s (needed to know how to use the enemy's weapons as well as our own), up to LMGs. None of this was less than terrifying. I can admire my friend's fine Spanish shotgun with hand-chased engraving, but I'm happiest when it's locked away in its safe again.

Second Madeline's comment,
"one of the things that he mentioned was that it was intensely stupid to have a sign up like "This house protected by Smith and Wesson." Because stolen guns are worth a lot, and there you are, advertising you have guns to steal."
Many households in S. Africa had guns for 'safety'. After the shooting stopped, it usually turned out that either the head of household had gone 'bossies' (bush-war-crazy, related to Old Jarhead's point) and slaughtered his family with said gun: or the bad guys had broken in to steal the gun(s) and slaughtered similarly. It didn't seem to be helpful.

#59 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Connie #56:

I would like to think so, but there seem to be a lot of irresponsible drivers out there. Or if they are responsible, they could have fooled me.

#60 ::: Adam Rakunas ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:02 PM:

PNH @ #54

That was a story.

Oh, man, that's not fair to leave us hanging like that! At least tell us what kind of cereal it was.

Also, thank you, Old Jarhead. I've enjoyed your comments on the Whatever, and this post gets a [this is good] tag.

#61 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:17 PM:

No gnus is good gnus.

Old Jarhead is, if anything, understating things. It's not just a question of training or reaction-versus-thinking, either; it's a question of attitude. And most of the time, "defense" situations go awry because the shooter (whether the assailant or defender) is unprepared for what comes next.

Have you ever fired a gun pulled from a drawer, in an enclosed space, without hearing protection? (Why do you think they make you wear hearing protection at the range, anyway?) The first shot -- and certainly the second shot if trying to double-tap -- will almost certainly stun the shooter... so you'd better make sure you hit what you're aiming at, and that there's only one target.

Now let's assume that's your bedroom. You've just shot and killed the cat-burglar (who turned out to be some eighteen-year-old kid looking for dope, not a member of the Manson family, but either way he's dead). It's going to be hard enough to get any sleep that night, with all the cop interviews, etc. (and they're going to confiscate your firearm for ballistics, too). But it's your bedroom. Unless you've got the soul of a politician, it's not going to be the best place for you to sleep the next night. Or the next. Or maybe ever.

#62 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:29 PM:

About the emotional cost of legal shooting (re Doug K at #57): my dad drove supply trucks from Normandy through the battle of the bulge and into Germany; at some point, he used his deer-stalking skills to approach and take out a machine gun position that was making the road impassable.

He was in his seventies before he unfolded the citation he got for that action and let me read it. I don't think he ever really got over hunting a human.

#63 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 07:47 PM:

gnu control, huh? Well, that's less likely to induce confusion than nun-control.

This is one of those issues where I'm tempted to hex both sides. I grew up next door to a shooting range*, and could never manage to match up the pro-gnu-control rhetoric with the behavior of my neighbors. Those guys weren't hurting anyone, and I don't like the idea of treating them like potential criminals.

But the behavior of the pro-gnu-control people pales in comparison to the lies and outrageous rhetoric coming from the NRA and its sister organizations. If you can stomach it, have a look at stopungunban.org. It's sickening. They do their best to sow fear and paranoia, and then hit you up for money. This is, as far as I can tell, standard operating procedure for the NRA. Muddy the waters, get people angry, rake in cash, and trade for power.

* funny story here: When I moved to South Side Chicago for college, I was somewhat weirded out by the fact that I didn't hear gunfire regularly.

#64 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:05 PM:

I fired a gun once, when I was about 5. I don't want to own one now.

I'm too afraid I'd use it on myself.

One of the issues not often mentioned around this is just how many guns are used by people who might have issues of depression, and just how easy they make it to act on momentary impulses. I completely support responsible gun ownership -- kind of like Western civilization. It would be a good idea.

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:19 PM:

For the first couple decades of my life, I had a particular view of the use of force and the military and guns and whatnot. Looking back now, I would describe it as... infatuation. I've thought about it once in awhile, and that's the closest word I can come up with to describe it.

Then... life... happened, and a rather long period of... disillusionment... set in. The pendulem swung to the opposite end of the spectrum. I call them the dark pink ages, for the fact that I spent an embarrassingly long stretch of time sitting in the dark, listening to Pink Floyd.

Some long time after that, the pendulem seems to have found its center. Massive mistakes and severely bad choices can't be changed, but I stopped regretting them, then all that was left is what is.

And what is, around this topic, is a sense of recognition when I see folks who have my old infatuation with guns and violence. And a realization that had you met me at a certain time in my life, I would have had that exact same infatuation. And there wouldn't have been a damn thing anyone could have said to me that would have changed it.

And that truth brings up a whole bunch of different emotions all at once. I doubt every infutuatee would be as infatuated as I was. Which means there are probably plenty of people who would do well to hear from folks who point out that handing out guns to the populace is not the answer to a shooting spree by some nutcase. But I guess, some part of me realizes that there will always be some knuckleheads who will just be too damn stubborn to learn anything but in the school of hard knocks. Some of us got knocked around and learned a thing or two. But there's a whole bunch of folks who spout their infatuations based on their romantic views of the world because they don't have any experienced-based views that would show them how off the mark they are.

When I wrote "Hunger Pangs", my military SF novel, when the protagonist gets in his first firefight, the first thing he does after the shooting is over is puke his guts out. So, when I read Old Jarhead's post, his last line brought a smile to my face. At least I got that part right.

There are some people I've known for years who I know have been in some seriously messed up combat situations, but who've never talked about it. Or when they do, it certainly isn't with the bravado that is usually associated with those who are brave because they've never actually done what it is that they're talking about.

I'm rambling, and I'm not sure I really have a point. Probably a good sign that I should stop...

#66 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:33 PM:

I find the incidentals in this case more telling than anything to do with the guns. For example, this guy was alienated, hostile, and could probably have used more help than he received. Of course, many of us were alienated and hostile and could have used more help when we were teenagers or in college, and we didn't go on killing sprees; the answer is certainly not to try to pick out future spree-killers from the troubled. But what would help, statistically, is reducing the number of troubled young people in the first place.

This guy was seriously messed up, but the reason I think he should have gotten more help than he did was not because he was dangerous, but because he was a human being, and he needed help, and therefore he deserved it.

#67 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:36 PM:

#36: That's grape. Squish, just like grape. (Wasn't it?)

#68 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:38 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 63

As I recall the statistics, one of the most common cause of death for active duty police officers in the US is suicide, almost always by eating their service pistols. Considering some of the things an officer has to see, I'd be surprised if depression wasn't common.

#69 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:40 PM:

Let's imagine a scenario. We have a shooter running around in a shopping mall. We have a 38-year-old CCW holder who understands the need for practice that's more than just watching cop movies and imagining some amazing super powered gun-fu.

This should be the perfect advertisement for the "legal guns will stop mass shootings" theory.

Except for the inconvenient fact that in the actual incident the CCW holder wound up paralyzed from the waist down.

#70 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:20 PM:

#65: For sure, helping troubled young people is the right thing to do anyway. But it also seems to me to be the pragmatic thing to do to reduce the number of spree killings.

#71 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:37 PM:

I've gotten curious about actual gnu control--they're exotic animals and there are probably some restrictions. Unfortunately, my google fu isn't up to finding any laws on the subject, even after I do -"open source" and such. Anyone want to take a crack at it?

Imho, a big piece of the cultural problem is the hero as unaffected killer--the James Bond/Dirty Harry thing.

#72 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:19 PM:

#54: PNH, describing the story and then not TELLING the story is purest cruelty.

I don't have much experience with guns. I've handled one, once, heard more than a few shots from my windows, and seen what a healed bullet wound looks like.

My father, by demonstration, impressed upon me two things as a boy/young man.

1: By demonstration with water pistols, he showed me that brandishing a gun that you do not intend to kill someone with in short order is a poor idea, and also that things that look too much like actual guns can bother people you'd rather not bother (I had a pair of "realistically" colored water guns for five days. Afterwards, if it wasn't fluorescent, I didn't play with it.)

2: A baseball bat is an excellent tool for home protection. The idea of a sustained firefight in an apartment worries me more than the idea of being undefended.

#73 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 10:33 PM:

Thanks again, Old Jarhead, for the excellent post.

I was raised among hunters, by men who learned their gun-handling in the military. Same for my husband. When we started taking our son hunting (at almost 1 year old), we constantly planned and discussed the appropriate training and gun safety issues. Touching issues. Safety issues.

One way to discourage some kids is to do target shooting when they're in utero. Seriously. The first time I shot a shotgun when I was carrying him, he kicked out with all four limbs. Ouch. Later on, he was timid about the noise until he got older. He was not particularly crazy or reckless about being around guns, and we did not allow casual gun play with toy guns, having decided that such behavior created bad habits.

The kid couldn't even point a *stick* carelessly in the hunting field without one of us getting after him.

Now he's a pleasure to go out with in the hunting field, and has decent muzzle discipline. But we've spent a lifetime training him.

Additionally, my preferred home defense weapon is a shotgun. One night when my husband was traveling, and the kid was very young, I heard someone rustling around outside.

I pulled out the shotgun. Cocked it.

They ran away.

The sound of a shotgun being cocked can be a very effective deterrent in some situations.

(And then there's the hunting story about the enraged bull elk who almost stampeded through our tent until one of us cocked our rifle...and then he snorted, stomped, and took off the other direction--he and another bull had been hollering insults at each other all night and we figure he'd gotten mad enough to do some damage to his rival...except we were in the way).

#74 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:34 PM:

I know guns. I have known guns for about 35 years.

I have, both personally and professionally, pointed them at people, with the intent of committing great, even fatal, bodily harm.

I can say, without mental reservation, or purpose of evasion, that Derbyshire is an ass, an idiot, and a self-admitted menace with a firearm.

I am a firm believer that limiting the possession of firearms to the gov't, is a bad idea.

I also believe that there are some limitations which are acceptable. By his own admission, Derbyshire probably fails my, lenient, restrictions (proof of knowing what safety considerations there are; both in general, and for the class in question, some rudimentary knowledge about when the use of deadly force is allowable, and the ability to hit a, roughly, person-sized target at a moderate range; a reasonable percentage of the time: that enitles one to buy anything of the class (handgun; pistol and semi-auto, rifle; bolt, semi-auto and lever, shotgun; pump, semi-auto, break-action. There are bolt-action shotguns, and pump-action rifles, but they are rare, and so not worth making a specific set of tests for).

There are all sorts of things I never understand in these sorts of things; things I think (based on my knowledge of my reactions to things like it) I would do. But I wasn't there, and this situation (unarmed against someone who is shooting) is something I've never been in, so I can't be sure.

What I do know is that I am not likely to post on the subject, because flogging this for my personal political hobby-horses is would be disgusting, and ought to be (at least at this early stage) beneath the most partisan of hacks.

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:42 PM:

that Derbyshire is an ass, an idiot,

"If Derbyshire says that, then Derbyshire is a ass, a idiot."

#76 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Steve @ 41: If you don't know muzzle disipline, or know what I am saying with that phrase (the course didn't cover it...)

What on earth does Ohio include in gun safety classes if they don't talk about muzzle discipline? I mean, gun safety 101 is basically:

1) Don't ever point a gun at something you don't want perforated, and

2) Guns are always loaded, thanks to the Evil Bullet Fairy. See rule (1).

Any gun safety class which doesn't drill (1) and (2) into the students' heads is going to get someone into bad trouble.

#77 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Old Jarhead Many thanks, excellent post.

Tina @ 12 Thank you for pointing that out. In general in any situation -- college RA, retail clerk, human bean going about an average life -- the rule you always hear from training crew, bosses, police, counselors and all manner of other experts is that one should cooperate with the guy with the gun. As was already pointed out (either here or in the origin thread) the reason the passengers took on the hijackers in the third plane is by that time they knew they were dead either way, and cooperating would not keep them safe. Without that proof, what is to say the "defenders" do/did not cause sufficient anger/panic that the gun-toting nit-wit kills more people than he otherwise would have?

PJ Evans @ 21 the second amendment was intended to keep the militia supplied with armed warm bodies, more than it was to assure the legality of hunting I don't know for sure, but given that large portions of the poorer population supplemented their food by hunting or fishing (although mostly game birds, not deer, etc. IIRC) I am not sure this is entirely true. However, given they were doing it from need not fun I'm not sure it matters, either.

Connie @ 56 Re: regulation
Lord knows the NRA and company would scream bloody murder, but I agree completely. The devil of it all is, of-course, that the amendment says the people (the militia) is what must be well-regulated, not the arms. It specifically states that rights to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

There is a great line in the movie Parenthood where Keanu Reeves says something to the effect that the government regulates so many things, but anybody can be a parent. Guns (at least to me) seem to be another example of apparently skewed priorities. While guns are somewhat regulated, it seems they are far more dangerous than many other things (like cars and alcohol) that are regulated more heavily. I'd love to see someone broker a deal with the NRA (who always seem to say there are enough existing laws about guns that we don't enforce -- and then when something happens, pay for lawyers to help ensure that non-enforcement) to drop all the laws on guns in favor of a much more stringent regulation program.

My four cents on the issue:

Yes, possibly because of our "origin myths" of Washington, MinuteMen, Cowboys and the like, America tends to worship the gun more than other cultures. It's a part of our identity.
This makes it hard to get rid of.

I grew up in a rural/suburban area. Did the Boy Scout thing and shot a rifle on the range in my early teens. I wasn't particularly good, and didn't particularly care. My dad had a rifle for potting squirrels and woodchucks poaching from his backyard garden. He did generic gun safety: locked away the ammo, and both hid the gun and put it out of reach. He did attempt to teach shooting, but I was both not good, and not interested. In college, working as an RA at the dorm, I occasionally found myself in close proximity to the local police. Working a second job 20 minutes walk from campus, same police would occasionally (on cold winter nights) give me a lift to the campus. One thing I found I was always aware of was the guns (not just handguns: the squadcar had a shotgun that clipped (racked?) to the dash). They don't scare me exactly, but whenever I see a gun I am very aware of its lethal potential, and find myself more focused than usual on where it is...
I don't like guns.

One of the common arguments about gun control is that it makes for a safer, friendlier more courteous populace. I don't know if this is true or not. Two stories which work both ways:

1. Supposedly, after concealed carry was passed in Florida, muggings and assaults on Floridians went down, while attacks on tourists went up. This was touted by at least one person as proof that gun-contol works -- that the criminals changed targets based on a gun-threat analysis. But even still, is this a pro-gun or anti-gun example?

2. On business in the south, my father (supposedly) saw the following incident: The driver of a sporty car was honking, tailgating, and giving the finger to a pickup in front of them. After a while, the sporty car pulled into a mall. The pickup pulled into the mall by a different entrance, cruised the lot until it found the car, waited while the driver entered the mall, waited several minutes more, then the driver of the pickup calmly got out, took down the shotgun off the gunrack, carried it over to the car, and calmly -- and with great deliberation -- fired one barrel into the grill and the other into the front windshield, then got back into the pickup and drove off. When the sporty car's driver came out shortly after (along with countless others) the window and upholstery were totalled, and the car was sitting in a rather large puddle of various-colored fluids. Again, I don't really know if this is pro or con.

Finally, while we treat these as new problems, I find it significant that one of Rudyard Kipling's poems talks about:
As long as those unloaded guns we keep beside the bed
Blow off, by obvious accident, their lucky owners' heads.

This is not a "current" or "new" issue. It's the same three questions:
1. When is an individual's safety society's responsibility?
2. Where is the dividing line between two individuals' rights? (To crib from Spider Robinson, "Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.")
3. Where is the divide between one individual's rights and the rights of society as a whole?

#78 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:40 AM:

Serge: For home defenes, long guns, of any sort, are less useful than handguns. If you get frangible ammo (e.g. Glaser Safety Slugs) you don't have to worry about killing people on the other side of the wall. A shotgun, at in-house distances needs just as much aiming as a handgun (spread at 10 feet, with modified choke is less than three inches) and using anything which is going to do real damage is also capable of going through an interior wall.

I don't reccomend firearms for home defense. The risk of undesired effects is too great. Someone who is sneaking in (say a teenager trying to avoid waking someone) or a mistaken person (the drunk who drives to the wrong house and stubbornly forces his way in), is not what you want to shoot, and a moment of panic will be a lifetime of regret.

A baseball bat, bo-ken, or sword are just as effective, and allow for more considered re-action.

I have a rapier which is my "panic" weapon of choice, because it's has no edge, so I can use it as a defensive weapon, and it does have a point. Push come to shove it's offensive too, and the guy looking at it sees a sword.

It's harder to take away, as well as harder to neutralise, works better in close quarters and has a different psychological effect.

Oh yeah, with a sword, I have an advantage of about 40', against someone who is packing, but holstered.

I have spent the time to train with it, and work with it on a regular basis, but not as much as I would be training if I were using a firearm in that role; because the shoot/don't shoot reflexes aren't as hard to acquire/maintain for a sword.

Leah Miller: My knife fighting instructor told us to practice (with rubber knives) while blissed on our drug(s) of choice. This was to be able t function should something happen when we were in such a state.

Regarding the sounds of gunfire: When I was in al Qayarrah (nortwestern tip of the Sunni Triangle) the MPs had a range. Every morning the sound of 9mm and M-16 fire from the east, and echoing off the wall to the northwest.

When I got to Walter Reed I was a trifle... high-strung (David Drake's comment about having learned to live in a state of constant, if low-grade fear is on-point; as are the times when the fear isn't as low-grade).

When I found myself at Ft. Lewis I awakened one morning to the sound of gunfire, I roused myself to determine the fire was, 1: outbound, 2: about 1/4 mile away, and 3: M-16.

When all of that (in that order) had been processed, I felt more relaxed, and went back to sleep.

#79 ::: Kes ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:57 AM:

Not a gun owner, have handled a hunting rifle a (very) few times, so take my opinion for what it's worth.

When I hear the concealed carry routine, I like to bring up three names: Amadou Diallo; Sean Bell; David Scaringe.

Diallo: experienced police officers, trained in the use of their weapons, panic and shoot 41 bullets into an unarmed man.

Bell: experienced police officers, trained in the use of their weapons, panic and shoot 31 bullets into an unarmed man.

Scaringe: experienced police officers, trained in the use of their weapons, attempt to stop a suspected drunk driver by playing Dirty Harry and shooting out the tires of a moving vehicle. The drunk gets away. Scaringe, walking down his own street, is shot dead.

Now if that's what happens when trained professionals start shooting, whatinhell could you expect from a panicked civilian--or, worse, half a dozen panicked civilians?

(BTW, my father is another of those men who came home from WWII and never hunted again.)

#80 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Eric: I made the acquaintance of my CO in Iraq at a range. I was the right side, center, safety. He was an unknown captain. As I recall I was a Specialist (e-4, top of the pecking order for privates, a long way below a captain).

His muzzle drifting more than I thought was allowable from the vertical (call it 15 degrees). I didn't think about it, I just strode over, pulled it back to vertical, and said something to the effect of, "It has to stay straight up and down sir".

The Officer in Charge (who was my most recent commander, just left command last month), came up (after he complained) and asked what had happened. I told him, and he said I just needed to make sure I was properly respectful. He didn't say I hadn't been, but the other officer had complained.

Later (after he'd come to know me better) he said that if I'd corrected him, he must have been wrong.

On the range, the safety is an autocrat, don't confuse your rank, with her authority: you will lose.

Different range story: I saw a soldier fail to hear the command to commence fire. He was confused, and I saw him draw breath... sure enough he called out, "Cease Fire."

Even though I knew what the problem was (i.e. there was no problem) I did what I had to do, and bellowed, "Cease fire! Cease fire! Cease fire!" and the other safeties picked up the refrain.

Everyone is a safety, and, "cease fire" is absolute. If Private Snuffy calls one because he fell asleep and the shooting woke him up, the line stops.

His sergeant can deal with it later.

If a safety refuses to call it out, when Pvt. Snuffy does that, he will deal with me now; and the Commander later.

#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:07 AM:

Old Jarhead's post puts me in mind of SFC Red Thomas's comments on WMDs.

The voice of someone who's been and done is different from that of someone whose expertise stems from seeing a lot of movies starring Sylvester Stallone.

#82 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:14 AM:

Jim at 80, thank you for the link, it was terrific. This is precisely the kind of information and voice which we need to counter the "War on Terrah" propaganda, instead of the total crap we've been getting for five and half years.

#83 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:36 AM:

Nancy (#70): For information on gnu control, try googling on "wildebeest migration management" or "wildebeest management" or "wildebeest migration parks" (no quotation marks in search string). There's tons of stuff, but most of the meaningful links are academic papers behind paywalls.

My cursory googling shows that the big gnu-control issues occur when migrating herds of gnus cross park boundaries and national boundaries.

Unfortunately, you won't find much info if you search for "gnu." All the cool kids these days say "wildebeest."

#84 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:02 AM:

James D. Macdonald @ 80

Thanks for that link; it's a welcome antidote to some of the scare tactics we've been getting from our government. You know, it's a damn shame that a guy like Thomas has to wait until he's retired to go public with information that we should have available to us as a matter of course. He's absolutely right to do that; if he were still on the job they'd come gunning for him. At the very least they'd try to prosecute him for violating Title 18, the "Secrets Act".

That's the flip side of privacy, you know. We can't let the gummint have any; any more than we can afford to let them take away ours.

#85 ::: Greg Machlin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:01 AM:

Thankfully, my only personal experience with guns comes from stage guns.
I wrote a play which calls for the use of guns (it's about vampires; a vampire hunter shoots the hero's girlfriend at the end of Act I to prove she's a vampire), and it was produced here at the University of Iowa, where, before any show can use a gun, you have to get trained in theatre gun safety.

Gun safety is taken seriously in the theatre, as it should be--Even stage guns can injure or kill people if they're not used properly (c.f. Brandon Lee), or even if they are.

I was a little freaked out just signing out the stage gun from the props dept., and decided to use a nonfiring gun in the show, as opposed to a gun that uses blanks.

#86 ::: WebmasterX ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:16 AM:

What old Jarhead doesn't understand is that I'd rather my wife be puking over the fact that she just killed someone than have her raped, tortured, or killed because she didn't want to worry about the after effects of blowing someone straight to hell. B h cntrl gns, fck ff.

#87 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 05:14 AM:

A sergeant told me once, back in the day,
That weapons have a curious property:
They kill. Perhaps they kill you, maybe me,
Or maybe it's somebody far away
Just minding their own business. You might say
The weapon's mad. It doesn't care, you see.
It simply kills. An accident? Maybe.
It doesn't care. It does it anyway.

So treat it like it's mad. Like it'll try
To kill you for no reason, or for sport.
It somehow loads itself, just on the sly,
So it can kill you, or a passer-by,
Or anyone at all. It's mad. It ought
To be locked up. Dead set, I thought.

#88 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 05:36 AM:

I'd rather my wife be puking over the fact that she just killed someone

Someone like, say, your child, whom she mistook for a burglar and shot by mistake. Or, possibly, you.

The best-trained soldiers in the world shoot the wrong people from time to time. Even if your wife is an ex-14 Int warrant officer, and puts five hundred rounds down at the pop-up range three times a week, she could still make a mistake.

To emulate Jim Macdonald: when someone's wife mistakes him for a burglar, you know the difference? The men who didn't have a gun in the house "for protection" are sitting there (possibly slightly bruised) with their wives, and maybe the police, reassuring each other, laughing nervously, drinking coffee and apologising for all the fuss. The ones who had a gun in the house are just sort of lying there.

(Probably unnecessary note: of course I don't mean to suggest that women are more likely to make this sort of mistake than men. I'm dealing with the scenario as presented.)

#89 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 07:25 AM:

NC has had a concealed carrying law on the books for years; it was pushed through by those claiming it would reduce violent crime.

Since it was enacted, I have yet to hear of a crime prevented or stopped by a gun-toting civilian. Violent crimes are still around and not reducing in number, either.

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 08:00 AM:

When I was about four, I had a cap-gun. My father had given it to me. He told me 'never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to use it.' I pointed the gun at him and said 'bang'. He spanked me.

Later, in another country, when I lived on a farm I never went out on the farm unarmed -- I always carried a cutlass in my belt. Many's the tree and bush that fell helpless before me.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 08:04 AM:

Tonight on the Skiffy Channel, a movie original... Fragano the Slayer - The Early Years...

#92 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 08:10 AM:

For what it's worth, I can't make sense of the way the British "Association of Chief Police Officers" are pushing for more anti-gun laws. Not, at least, as a rational response to armed criminals. Combine it with their lobbying in other matters, and they start to look a lot like an organisation trying to create a police-state.

I also see some similarities between the US Constitution and the UK's "Human Rights Act", which embodied the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

They're both laws which try to put some limit on what laws legislators can make, and courts can enforce.

And they're both laws which legislators seem to be willing to ignore or warp beyond all recognition.

Both can be amended. Nobody seems willing to try.

#93 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 08:25 AM:

Serge #90: All that poor firewood slain...

#94 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 09:25 AM:

What old Jarhead doesn't understand is that I'd rather my wife be puking over the fact that she just killed someone than have her raped

Hm, having read Jarhead's comments, it seems abundantly clear that the Marine in question understands the tradeoffs that surround self defense, including the tradeoff that it is better to be alive and puking rather than dead and dead.

But what Jarhead also seems to understand is that there are other tradeoffs being made. Most people who think they'll be clear headed and logical and rational when it comes time for them to "shoot to kill" are people who have no actual experience in what they're talking about. The people who think they will be fully informed of the situation when they pull the trigger tend to be people who've never actually been in that situation.

So, do I take the word of combat-experienced military personel? Or you?

You are terrified and you think a gun will make you safe. You can't even admit your own fear. Instead, you say it's really about your wife needing protection from evil-doers, not you. No. You're not afraid at all. You'll be completely clear headed when it comes time to shoot into the shadows at some unseen monster.

That really seems to boil down the difference between those who have and those who have not. People who have, know fear will be present in the moment, know its something that will always be present, and know its something that affects every decision to employ force.

And people who have not, get the luxury of viewing themselves in some fairytale fiction.

#95 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 09:31 AM:

Dave Bell: "For what it's worth, I can't make sense of the way the British "Association of Chief Police Officers" are pushing for more anti-gun laws. Not, at least, as a rational response to armed criminals."

That really doesn't make any sense to you?

Problem: too many criminals carrying guns.
Solution: make it more difficult to get hold of guns by introducing more anti-gun laws.

Explanation: This will work because there are two sources of firearms for criminals: legal and illegal.
Reducing the number of legally held weapons will make it more difficult for criminals to own firearms legally, or to steal them from their legal owners.
Increasing penalties for illegal possession will discourage people from illegally possessing, importing or dealing them.

That doesn't seem too obscure (and I'm not sure that ACPO is having a particular push on gun ownership at present...)


#96 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 09:31 AM:

And I have seen insanely stupid gun-handling by British police officers.

Some months ago, I was walking down William IV Street in London, just by Charing Cross nick, when I passed an armed police officer carrying his H&K MP5 one-handed - one hand gripping it by the scope, that is. Presumably, after a few minutes like that it would have been so far off zero he couldn't have hit anyone with it.

More broadly: if you must have a gun, I rather like the Cook Islands' approach to gun control. You can have as many guns as you like, but you can only buy ammunition from the police, and you have to account for the last lot before you can buy more.

#97 ::: johnny ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 09:39 AM:

I agree with some of what he says. And parts of it would certainly be good advice for a novice adult gun owner.

However, I think that once you've gotten the psychological aspect out of the way and have a certain degree of ability and familiarity with your gun(s), practicing every month is not necessary. Shooting is not that difficult, and once you've learned it it's sort of like riding a bicycle. What's more important is learning to be calm under pressure situations where you might find yourself needing the gun, which is probably harder to learn or teach. A high percentage of gun owners (and all whom I know) grew up with guns, keep them readily accessible and loaded, never practice, and have never had any sort of accident.

I also didn't agree with his view on keeping weapons locked up and the little-girl-in-the-garage episode; I think it highlights a fundamental error his approach to using a firearm for home defense. What I mean is, the algorithm I have in my head when it comes to home defense (esp. with a firearm) is, if there's an indication of a potential threat (noises in the garage), I'm going to arm myself and investigate. I'm not going to put myself in a 'ready to fire' state (fully loaded, safety off, finger on the trigger) unless or until a threat is identified, so there's zero chance I'm going to accidentally shoot someone/something, because I'm not going in with my weapon leading the way and my finger on the trigger - that part only happens when a threat has been identified. It's possible he has this misconception from having gotten his first firearms training from being in the Marine Corps - the military mindset with weapons' use is much different from that of defensive use with appropriate training from an early age (and as a former Marine who got his first firearm at age 8, I know something of both worlds).

Unfortunately this guy's stance is probably more common amongst novice adult gun owners - there's a *potential* threat, so people overreact, get all worked up, and go in jumpy with their weapon fully armed and their finger on the trigger. Same thing happens in hunting accidents - people are primed and ready and they shoot before fully identifying their target, and it turns out it was some other hunter rather than a deer. But personally I think these sorts of mistakes are idiotic and are easily prevented by having the appropriate formula: only prepare to shoot *after* a target/threat has been identified.

Since his advice is directed at novices it makes some sense, but I think teaching the proper formula is of primary importance - knowing the order in which you should proceed (scan for threats, identify threats/targets, act) is key; "lock up your weapons" does nothing to teach that.

I also disagree regarding caliber - it isn't that important. What's more important is choosing a weapon that matches the intended use, and that you're comfortable shooting. For example, if you're planning on carrying a concealed weapon, you want something that is small and comfortable enough for you to always have with you - a .22 or .32 is perfectly appropriate for a small woman (and the latter was good enough for James Bond;). There's a misperception that a more powerful weapon will be more effective, which simply isn't true - shot placement is much more important than muzzle energy. Only a CNS (central nervous system) shot will immediately stop someone with *any* caliber handgun...contrary to popular belief, what kills people who are shot is usually blood loss after several minutes; in the interim they are usually fully able to function (although they may be in shock). They don't just "drop dead" or slump to the ground like they do in the movies. Cops have countless stories of shooting people a dozen times with 9mm or .45 rounds and the person not going down - the popular rapper Fifty Cent got shot nine times by a fellow drug dealer with a 9mm handgun and he's still around. This is because, unless you hit a vital organ or the CNS, gunshot wounds are highly survivable. So if you're using a handgun for home defense, yes, get the largest caliber you're comfortable shooting (which for most women would be a 9mm or .40 caliber), but always aim for the chest and head, because otherwise your chances of taking the attacker out are slim. If you're carrying concealed, a 9mm *might* be a good choice if you can find the appropriate form-factor, but if not a .32 is a heck of a lot better than nothing...and a .32 or even a .22 round to the head will stop 99% of attackers dead in their tracks.

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 10:44 AM:

johnny: You need to practice, at least for the sorts of things being discussed. The question isn't hitting the target, per se, but rather getting the weapon, clearing it of its storage device (be it holster, gun safe or mattress) identifying the threat, determining the need to shoot and not missing.

Cops get shoot/don't shoot training all the time. Why? They, after all, are spending every day in places they ought to be thinking of such things. They do it because it's a perishable skill, and requires practice to maintain.

Soldiers, esp. infantry, have regular training to keep their skills up? Why? They don't even have the shoot don't shoot problem (the Rules of Engagement are never, in a combat zone, more restrictive than, "if you think you, or another soldier is in peril, you can shoot")

Because shooting under stress is hard. You aim high, you freeze, you forget to take the weapon off safe. The mgazine malfunctions and you forget to pull immediate action.

All of that is ameliorated by practice, so that clearing, making ready, firing (and adjusting for error) correcting malfunctions and reloading are all made automatic. So that a jam doesn't equal just hitting the deck and cowering.

Caliber does matter. A .22LR is capable, but not ideal. Reagan was shot in the lung. He didn't know it until someone saw the blood. He thought the pain was a bruise from being knocked down and dragged into the car.

James Bond, and his .32 are fiction, the comment about, "good enough for a woman" is contemptible, and more to the point foolish. The question isn't who is shooting, but who is being shot, and .22 isn't adequate to the job of reliably killing an attacker. To relegate sub-optimal equipment to them, thus decreasing their odds of using it effectively smacks either of magical thinkig (the mere act of having a gun will make the problem go away) or a careless disregard for the facts, and their persons.

The advice to make, "head shots" is at least as bad. Shooting under stress causes people to aim high (this is why deulling pistols were made to shoot low, and had heavy muzzles). Heads are high, small, and prone to movement. Shooting at them, esp. under stress; in a situation which isn't common, is a recipe for missing.

Aim for center mass, and hit high, the target is still likely to be hit. Aim for the head and shoot the same amount over, and the bullet is going to hit something unintended.

A 9mm. .40S&W 10mm, .45, .38SPC, .357 are all weapons which anyone who spends the time can fire. All come in versions compact enough that someone who wants to carry them concealed can do so.

So advocating the use of under-powered weapons, because any gun is better than no gun, is worse than wrong. It's immoral because it increases the risk to the bearer, and the surrounding public, by requiring applications which take more training, and have a significantly higher rate of failure; with damage to other persons.

#99 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:06 AM:

> noises in the garage ... because I'm not going in with my weapon leading the way and my finger on the trigger - that part only happens when a threat has been identified.

So if the first point you get to identify the threat is when a panicky burglar in your garage who does have his finger on the trigger shoots at the noise he thinks he hears and hits you, you lose.
(Though if you don't have a gun, you have no chance whatsoever of firing back. There are areas of the US where, based on what I've heard about the chances of intruders being armed and happy to be violent and the lack of police response, I would choose to own a firearm (and practice with it) rather than rely on just hiding upstairs and not caring if the garage was burgled.)

#100 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:09 AM:

ACW @ 2

I believe that the argument over gnu control is related to arguments about the right to keep and arm bears.

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Alan Braggins: First, as has been gone into at length in other places (see Respectful of Otters, and a recent thread at Majikthise for discussions, repsectively on perceived, vs. real risk, and the actual incidence of armed robberies, with intent to harm people inside) the risk of such an attack is ridiculously small. So small, in fact, that to plan for it, instead of to ponder some what-ifs, is bordering on foolish (because it raises the odds of one treating a non-situation as the thing for which one has planned/trained).

More importantly, as Massad Ayoob has shown at his gun-training camps (for police, and other sorts who have to train to go into places where people are going to be likely to be armed, and hostile). The person who is moving, is almost always the one who ends up shot. Trained cops, at the end of a two-week course did an entry and search. The stationary bad guy killed all of them.

When the situation was reversed (the students were playing both roles) the moving players were again shot. This was with the moving players outnumbering, by as much as eight to one, the guy(s) inside.

The best course of action, even when armed, is to get everyone into a single location (best course is for the person with the gun to round everyone up) barricade everyone behind something large (a bed is good, concealment and diffusion of targer) and wait.

Since everyone has been accounted for, if someone comes in, you know you aren't going to kill a family member.

You also have the advantage of surprise, still in the dark is hard to see.

If all they wanted was to steal the car, no one got shot (far and away the best end-state). If the were looking for more violent trouble, you reduced the ability to be defeated in detail/have a family member used as negotiating point, and can call the cops while you wait.

If you have to shoot someone, you do it from a stable position, with a known point of entry/line of movement on the part of the target.

Going hunting is bad idea.

#102 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:28 AM:

Oy vey. Where to begin?

The oldest usage of the term"'well-regulated militia" I am aware of is from Fletcher's A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias, published in 1698. By "well-regulated militia" Fletcher meant univeral conscription and military training. The Framers, in The Militia Act of 1792 (I love linking to a winger site), also enacted universal conscription (a law largely honored in the breach) and added a requirement for members of the militia to arm themselves at their own considerable expense--a model 1795 musket manufactured in the Springfield Armory in 1792 cost $10.87, roughly 15 days of a carpenter's pay in Massachussets at the time, or 25 days of an agricultural laborer's pay. (Source; it's an Excel spreadsheet. Lots more historical wage data files at the International Institute of Social History's site.)

I doubt the modern "pro-gun" reading of the second amendment. It simply would not have passed in the day if it been an unlimited firearms license--the Federalists never would have supported it. As far as I can tell, it was intended to protect the state militias.

pedantic peasant, #76: "but given that large portions of the poorer population supplemented their food by hunting or fishing (although mostly game birds, not deer, etc. IIRC)". Was the Second Amendment written with poor farmers and hunters in mind? I suppose it's possible, but that wasn't what the Framers said--the Amendment after all mentions the militia. By the way, I suspect the majority of subsistence hunting was done with shotguns, which were not militia weapons, hence the concentration on small game--muskets were inaccurate and rifles demanded skill and took forever to load.

#103 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:30 AM:

> If all they wanted was to steal the car, no one got shot

Yes - I didn't mean I wouldn't also hide upstairs and hope if I thought there were armed intruders in the garage if I did have a gun to use if they did come up.
As things actually are living in the UK I take it for granted that burglars aren't armed and expecting to shoot, because they are taking it for granted that homeowners aren't. This isn't 100% true, but it's close enough. And I see no likelyhood of having to move to the sort of place I had anecdotal accounts of - if I did, I'd do some actual research before making a decision.

#104 ::: johnny ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:32 AM:

[Terry: All of that is ameliorated by practice, so that clearing, making ready, firing (and adjusting for error) correcting malfunctions and reloading are all made automatic. So that a jam doesn't equal just hitting the deck and cowering.]

Those circumstances arise in firefights. 99.9% of home/self-defense situations are going to involve one shot, and certainly no more than a typical magazine/cylinder, so clearing a jam, adjusting for error don't apply - you aren't going to have time for either of those even if they became necessary and you knew how to handle them. I certainly agree that practicing skills like marksmanship, firing status (safety off), etc. are necessary. But as most anyone who grew up with guns can tell you, once those skills have become second nature, there's no need for "monthly range practice" to keep them - you *own* those skills and they don't go away. You know you have the ability to hit a home invader should the need arise. You may disagree, and I certainly agree with you that an adult novice ought to practice...but I haven't shot a handgun in probably 10 years, and I guarantee you that if the need arose I could hit a home invader from 10 feet away 100% of the time with a handgun. I don't say that out of bravado, but simply because I know it to be true, and my friends and family who are lifelong gun owners would say exactly the same thing. It simply isn't rocket science or some super-difficult skill to point a gun and hit a man-sized target, and making it seem that way is a disservice in my mind. I never knew a hunter (and I've known dozens) who felt it was necessary to "practice" hunting once they learned what they were doing and marksmanship, which most of them did by the age of 12. When hunting season comes, you go and hunt.

[Terry: Caliber does matter. A .22LR is capable, but not ideal. Reagan was shot in the lung. He didn't know it until someone saw the blood. He thought the pain was a bruise from being knocked down and dragged into the car.]

Yes, and if he had been shot in the head with that .22 he would've been incapacitated or dead which is what I said in my comment. And if a 9mm round had hit Reagan’s lung, he would’ve felt it more but he probably would’ve survived. Caliber can *help*, but it is far less important than shot placement.

[Terry: James Bond, and his .32 are fiction, the comment about, "good enough for a woman" is contemptible]

Give me a break – don’t project your sexist crap onto me. I said 'a .22 or .32 are perfectly appropriate for a small woman', because recoil and its effects are pure physics; a small woman trying to handle a .357 or a .45 is going to have much more difficulty than a larger woman or a man because men have greater upper body strength. Everyone should choose a caliber and weapon appropriate to their size and strength...which means small women should choose a smaller gun.

[Terry: .22 isn't adequate to the job of reliably killing an attacker. To relegate sub-optimal equipment to them, thus decreasing their odds of using it effectively smacks either of magical thinkig (the mere act of having a gun will make the problem go away) or a careless disregard for the facts, and their persons.]

My point was that NO caliber is adequate for 'reliably killing an attacker' unless you hit them in a vital area. And if you *do* hit them in a vital area, particularly the CNS/head, a smaller caliber will be extremely effective. This is indisputable and again is pure physics. It is a mistake to choose a caliber that causes recoil a given person has difficulty handling under the false impression that the increased muzzle energy is going to magically "take the attacker out". It won't without proper shot placement.

[Terry: The advice to make, "head shots" is at least as bad. Shooting under stress causes people to aim high (this is why deulling pistols were made to shoot low, and had heavy muzzles). Heads are high, small, and prone to movement. Shooting at them, esp. under stress; in a situation which isn't common, is a recipe for missing.
Aim for center mass, and hit high, the target is still likely to be hit. Aim for the head and shoot the same amount over, and the bullet is going to hit something unintended.]

I never advised aiming for headshots; I stated that only headshots guarantee immediate incapacitation - are you disputing that? Ever heard of a double-tap? The head is the secondary shot. I agree that center-of-mass is the optimal target area and should almost always be the preferred shot; my point was that a shot to the head is about the only sure way of taking out an attacker, whatever caliber of weapon you're using (short of a shotgun). A double-tap would almost always be your best bet with a handgun.

[Terry: So advocating the use of under-powered weapons, because any gun is better than no gun, is worse than wrong. It's immoral because it increases the risk to the bearer, and the surrounding public, by requiring applications which take more training, and have a significantly higher rate of failure; with damage to other persons.]

If you feel that way, don't carry one. But there are plenty of people carrying concealed with .32 and .380 weapons. James Bond may be fiction, but the Walther PPK he carries is plenty real, and a preferred weapon for many people. Your opinion that they are 'underpowered' is just that - your opinion. Mine is that I'd rather have a small comfortable .380 than nothing any day. And I certainly wouldn’t advise a 100 pound woman to carry anything bigger than a 9mm based simply upon recoil and the mass/strength of her forearms. And I’d make clear to her that shot placement was a lot more of a factor than the caliber she chose.

To anyone interested in informing themselves about firearms, I’d recommend reading some Massad Ayoob, one of the foremost experts on these topics…rather than just some comments on an internet thread.

#105 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Johnny:

I don't know about the total effectiveness here, but there are pretty good statistics for one-shot stopping power of various sizes of gun, and the differences between, say, shooting someone in the torso with a .45 or a .22 are pretty large.

IMO, if you're going to have a gun, you've decided to prepare to use lethal force. If you're not crazy, you're only planning to use it if there are no good alternatives to killing someone. So you probably want the shot to actually kill the guy right then, rather than just make your killer easy for the police to identify when they find him in the ER.

That said, the two people I know who have used weapons in self-defense situations both ended the situation without hurting anyone. In one case, it was a cousin of mine pulling a gun on her abusive ex-husband, and apparently, he believed (correctly) that she was willing to shoot him. In another, it was a female friend pulling a knife on a would-be mugger/rapist/drunken idiot hassling her.

#106 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 11:52 AM:

#100 Terry and others:

I think this is an important point. Some people have good reasons to think they're at risk of attack. For example, if you make late-night cash deposits from your business to a bank, or if you have an abusive ex-husband who's threatening you, or if you live in a really high-crime neighborhood, your risk is plausibly pretty high.

But our risk-evaluation circuitry is evolved for hunter-gatherer land and small agricultural villages, not for mass media and dramatic TV cop shows. It's easy to imagine that your risk of some horrible attack is very high from what you see on TV, and yet, it's pretty rare. In my entire life, there have been maybe two times I would have liked to have a gun available, and neither time did I turn out to need it.

And, to cross-thread link, I worry about risk balancing with a gun. If you have the magic-wand view of guns, it's easy to imagine that having one makes you much safer, and that can lead to taking bigger risks than you think you're taking. Even if you have an accurate assessment, won't a gun make you less likely to run away from a potentially dangerous situation?

Just as with the seatbelt thread, that doesn't mean that a gun is useless or doesn't help with self-defense, just that the total effect of having it is probably more complicated than you might expect.

#107 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:02 PM:

WebmasterX @ 85 I'd rather my wife be puking over the fact that she just killed someone than have her raped, tortured, or killed because she didn't want to worry about the after effects of blowing someone straight to hell.

And do her preferences in this matter concern you? After all, she, not you, will be the one going through the experience and the associated psychological trauma. Does she get a vote in which it will be?

If--God forbid--my partner ever had to experience one of two horrible options, I'd pray she experienced whichever would cause her the least trauma and damage, regardless of how I felt about it.

#108 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:07 PM:

#98/#102: I live in one of those scary places in the US - Oakland, California, where the murder rate is triple the national average, which itself is much higher than in the UK. And while I don't live in the worst neighbourhood here, I also don't live in one of the expensive neighbourhoods either.

It's not exactly a terrifying daily trial to live here. I try to remember to lock the door when I come in, but sometimes I forget. Actually at my previous place in Oakland I realized after I'd lived there six months that I'd never locked the back door. My "home defense" is a determination that any burglar may take all my stuff. It's just stuff. I'm not going to shoot some poor, stupid kid over a TV, in the unlikely event I'm burgled while I'm home, and even if he's armed (pretty likely) I don't think he'd want to shoot an unarmed, unresisting resident. The chance of a rampaging murderer coming in is zero. I never understand why this scenario is considered plausible, unless you make a lot of really serious enemies - when people kill people at random, they tend not to do it by going into their homes, as far as I can tell.

My major anti-burglary precaution is to leave a couple of lights on all the time (CFs, of course). Burglars really, really don't want to go into a house that's occupied.

#110 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:21 PM:

a requirement for members of the militia to arm themselves at their own considerable expense--a model 1795 musket manufactured in the Springfield Armory in 1792 cost $10.87, roughly 15 days of a carpenter's pay in Massachussets at the time, or 25 days of an agricultural laborer's pay

Going by the current mean wage, this means spending roughly $2000 on a rifle. That's an expensive commitment!

On the "when to shoot" issue: the way I learned it is that the only time you canshoot is when you have to shoot - to protect yourself or persons under your protection from a clear and present threat of deadly force. But, of course, that's just in war zones. Rules may be looser in suburbia.

Second point: burglars normally don't want to meet householders. They normally burgle during the day when people are out - at night they know people will be at home and likely to cause trouble. The whole "burglar downstairs" theory is really, really unlikely. You're much more likely to get into a violent situation a) from your spouse or b) in the street.

Real conversation with a US National Guard sergeant:

ajay: So, enjoy the day on the ranges?
SGT: Yes, I did. I like the Browning [9mm] but I prefer the .45 - I carry one at home.
ajay: Really?
SGT: Yes, I normally have a .45 on my belt, and a .380 in an ankle holster.
ajay: OK. So what do you do in your civilian job? Are you a policeman or a state trooper or something?
SGT: No, I work in an office in a sawmill.
ajay: [silently contemplates immense cultural difference]

#111 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:31 PM:

#76 ::: pedantic peasant Tina @ 12 Thank you for pointing that out. In general in any situation -- college RA, retail clerk, human bean going about an average life -- the rule you always hear from training crew, bosses, police, counselors and all manner of other experts is that one should cooperate with the guy with the gun. As was already pointed out (either here or in the origin thread) the reason the passengers took on the hijackers in the third plane is by that time they knew they were dead either way, and cooperating would not keep them safe. Without that proof, what is to say the "defenders" do/did not cause sufficient anger/panic that the gun-toting nit-wit kills more people than he otherwise would have?

See also the rule of the Onion Field - the rule of don't provoke the gun-toting nit-wit reminds of some bingo cards I've seen lately.

Roy Chapman was well known in certain circles for being the only man ever to "survive" a particular fun house - he started his run by shouting police officer everybody down and then ran through the house shooting everything in sight including all the no-shoots. This to make a point as to the trade-offs necessary for survival of even the very most able. See also e.g. Steven Hunter's somewhat controversial book on the defense of Blair House - and Harry Truman - by trained professionals who also shoot high - and who also bleed.

My own suggestion on firearms for personal defense is that one should never allow a gun to take you where you wouldn't go without a gun. For some people the rule is you have to go out; for others no such rule.

#112 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:32 PM:

Last week, I was in the town of my alma mater, and my wife and I were having dinner at a pizzeria not far from campus. Across the aisle from us were four kids in a booth. About what you'd expect from college students having a night out; they were goofy, smart, opinionated, a little awkward, a little loud, a little given to melodrama, and very obviously knee-deep in the process of figuring out who they are. (My God, I thought, from my venerable 33-year-old perspective; they're so young.) I recognized them instantly as the kind of crowd I hung out with, or wanted to, back when I was one of them.

Forget stress and hormones and drink and drugs. The thought of those four pulling heat at the entrance of an armed assailant will only resolve itself in my head as some sort of Tarantinoesque black-comedic farce. In the real world, the chances of that situation ending in something other than tragedy and horror are vanishingly small. I know I wouldn't want my life in their hands in such a situation (nor theirs in mine, for that matter). I do know people who I would trust with my life in a crisis like that, and might have even at 18 or 20; but random students in the middle of going about their lives? Not even a little.

Not that the idiot assertion that weapons on campus would make everyone safer needs further refutation, but: Think of the college-age people you know. Now imagine a .45 in their hands. See if that feels like a reassuring thought.

#113 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Johny: I "grew up with guns". It was some 35 years ago I first fired one. I make my living with them. I teach marksmanship. I am in the Army. My father is a sherrif's deputy in Tenn. I've spent more nights than I like to think of sleeping with a rifle in arms reach, and more nights than I wanted to not sleeping, with a rifle in my hand.

You were the one who said an inadequate weapon was just fine for a woman. My take that such a reccomendation was contemptible did project sexism on you, but the same arguments against it would apply had you said I (a slightly built man, of 125 lbs. couldn't handle a larger gun, and would be just as well served with a .22.

A jam can happen with the first shot, if your opponent has a gun, and you miss/jam, he might decide to try and pot you. Knowing how one's equipment works is incumbent.

As for Reagan, had it been a 9mm Silvertip, his odds of surviving go way down. The other arguments against trying for head shots (not even going into the legal complications which arise if it becomes known one so trained) don't go away.

You say you aren't advicating for headshots, but you are advocating for use of a caliber which pretty much requires headshots. You can't argue both sides of the coin.

And training will deal with the issues of recoil. I weigh 120 lbs., more or less. I fire .45, 9mm. .40, .38SPC, .347 and even, on occasion .44Mag.

I used to shoot competition air rifle, so for a couple of years a light day was 50 rounds, and I didn't fire less than five days a week. If anyone is going to, "own" the skills, I am one of those people.

And even so, when I've not gone to a range in more than a month, I am ragged with my first group. The first shots are always accompianied (even with weapons I know and enjoy) a slight concern about how the recoil is going to feel.

Why?

Because the body forgets.

As for what to read, my previous comments in this thread might be a good place to start; esp. as I've made reference to Mass Ayoob.

I'm not against the carry of firearms. I'm against the stupid carry of them, and even more agsinst advice which makes the carrier, and the public less safe.

I don't think anything less than a .380, with safety-slugs is an adequate carry arm. Smaller weapons are fun to shoot, and when they are all which is to hand are adequate, but they require skill, training and luck (in no small part because of all the things you discuss/indirectly reference, the lack of impact energy, the poor qualities of small caliber ball ammo in soft tissue, etc.) to do the job.

Given that I think advising people to carry them is preaching the "magic" of guns, as opposed to the facts. Guns are useful, they are not a panacea, and a one which works poorly is worse than none, because it's like taking a go-kart to an F1 race.

#114 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy: I know lots of college aged kids who carry guns every day.

They happen to be Marines and soldiers, and being with them makes me feel comfortable.

Context is all.

When I was in college I did security, some of it armed.

And mostly, I'd not have trusted my fellow students to carry. More beans than brains.

But context is everything.

#115 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:03 PM:

The link to the M1795 musket seems to have gotten damaged, probably because of length and complexity. TinyURL version. That is, by the way, from the Springfield Armory National Historic Site collection archive, run by the National Park Service--it's an absolute gold-mine of period artifact information, including many weapons, but the search facility is quite cranky.

#116 ::: Old Jarhead ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:17 PM:

#96 Johnny:

Hmmmm, a lot of damning with faint praise but except for dismissing my "misconception" (thereby leaving the land of different opinions and entering the one where you are demonstrably right beyond cavil)a thoughtful post.

Please remember the audience the original article was written for - not the home defense crowd, not people with significant weapons experience. It was written in response to a thread started by a female family law attorney (joined by others with similar concerns) frightened by an incident where an estranged and enraged husband came into a law office threatening death and destruction. She had floated the possibility of arming herself.

My intent was not to provide a do-it-yourself-guide to armed self defense but simply to try and communicate the enormous gulf that exists between the thought "You know, I should get a gun" and getting one and being ready and able and effective in using it.

It is certainly possible that with your training and knowledge that you could have confronted a child in the garage at night with your weapon in condition one and not felt that you had placed her in any danger. Once again, I was trying to reinforce the idea of making informed choices - I have been fortunate that I have never lived (at least in the U.S. ) anywhere where the likelihood that I would need a weapon handy for home defense was high enough to overcome the risks inherent in having a weapon ready enough to hand to be useful in a sudden emergency. Training and experience and equipment can minimize that risk but it cannot eliminate it. And yes, she did find her bunny rabbit, but not in the car. :)

And #68 - Chris Davis. Exactamundo - this happened where I live and the shop owner faced a young man who had been shooting up the mall, shooting everyone he could see. He had a licensed, adequate, and operable weapon and decided that he couldn't fire because the shooter was a "kid" (20 years old). Fortunately when the kid shot him he was the last victim (of 6)and yes he is paralyzed. My first thought was "what if he had shot the guy and then go on down the mall and killed some kids".

But that was exactly my point - here we had a trained (at least minimally), armed, and prepared (physically) citizen facing a nutjob and the only thing his possession of the gun accomplished was to make him brave enough to stand up and face the shooter rather than run for his life and then get shot three times because he couldn't use it. He would have been far safer without the gun.

#117 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:33 PM:

#60 ::: C.E. Petit
Have you ever fired a gun pulled from a drawer, in an enclosed space, without hearing protection? (Why do you think they make you wear hearing protection at the range, anyway?) The first shot -- and certainly the second shot if trying to double-tap -- will almost certainly stun the shooter... so you'd better make sure you hit what you're aiming at, and that there's only one target.

I have fired GI ball from a .45ACP both in what might be described as a shack and in solid brick and mortar with no such effect. I did not of course pull the pistol from a drawer but I don't think that would make any difference. I do have a notch at 4kHz presumed traceable to acoustic trauma but many people have much more hearing loss. There is a strong argument for making silencers/supressors much easier to get and have around and transport - guns do damage hearing and big guns damage the hearing absolutely.

#118 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:37 PM:

I've never fired anything bigger than 105 mm*, but I definitely wouldn't want to carry one or have one in my home.

* on a practice field, three shots. Missed the target all three times.

#119 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 01:46 PM:

On the whole "light caliber" guns thing: I don't own guns, I'm not at all accustomed to firing guns and I'm a pretty scrawny guy - 145 pounds most of my life. The one time I went to a range with friends, on a visit to Vegas, and tried out shooting an assortment of handguns, I had no particular trouble hitting the targets with the 9mm, .45, or the .44 magnum. The latter was only a little bit harder to control.

It seems to me the whole recoil factor must be overrated, certainly as it compares to even moderate practice.

#120 ::: Jason Larke ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:10 PM:

I grew up with guns. I have taken a couple of courses in defensive shooting, and I have a license to carry a concealed pistol. Being somewhat obsessive, I have a gunvault next to my bed where I keep my carry pistol when not carrying it. I also have electronic hearing protection and one of the extra-bright flashlights commonly referred to as "tactical" within easy reach in the dark.

All that being said, if I think our house is being broken into, then I'm going to wake my wife up, gear up, get my daughter from her room, and then we're all going to hide in the master bedroom. I will call the police using my cell phone's speakerphone. When they arrive, I will throw the key to the front door out the window with a glowstick attached. No dang way am I going to go walking around my house in the dark without knowing who might be there. You can get killed pulling that crap.

#121 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:19 PM:

Terry@100: The person who is moving, is almost always the one who ends up shot. Trained cops, at the end of a two-week course did an entry and search. The stationary bad guy killed all of them.

That could probably be an addendum to Old Jarhead's piece: If you do decide to get a weapon and arm yourself, and the situation comes up, don't go out looking for trouble. Instead, circle the wagons, stay put, keep your head down, and call the police.

Clearing your home, room to room, against an armed intruder is not something you want to do if you go to the range one every couple of months and do stationary target practice.

#122 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:32 PM:

> burglars normally don't want to meet householders

In the case of the guy whom was telling me scary stories, IIRC the time he was most glad he had the gun turned out later to be people who thought their drug dealer had ripped them off and had slightly the wrong address.
He didn't use it (or go out looking to see what the trouble was), but he felt better having it. And I can't say he was wrong.

#123 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:40 PM:

Speaking of things in the Springfield Armory collection, here we have a rifle, probably owned by Jefferson Davis, complete with attached pro-South screed--not sure how said screed got into the museum's database.

#124 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:41 PM:

One thing I always thought was odd, and maybe I'm misinformed about the law here, is that you can get a handgun, a tiny weapon with a short barrel, or you can have a longgun, a rifle or shotgun with a longish barrel. But you can't get a pistol with a shoulder stock or similar. You end up with evil-associated terms like "sawed off shotgun" and whatnot.

if I were to choose an ideal home defense weapon, I imagine it would be something like a 45 caliber pisto with a shoulder stock. But I think those are illegal.

My experience with weapons is I could reliably hit a mansized target out to 500 yards, prone, with a rifle, using iron sights. I could reliably hit a mansized target standing, with a rifle, and iron sights. But if you give me a pistol, I'm no good for anything beyond, maybe, 10 yards. If I'm lucky.

Mostly, because shoulder, skull (cheekbone), and hands, with a shoulder stock inbetween, forms a pretty solid triangle of bone and steel, with the muscles keeping things taut. But if I'm holding a pistol, its all in the muscles, and muscles are pretty shakey.

I don't think you can own a short barelled weapon (pistol length) with a shoulderstock. But it seems like would be the best thing for home defense. I haven't touched a firearm for a long, long time. So, maybe I forgot something obvious.

#125 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:54 PM:

In the wee small hours of the morning, I was filling up at a gas station back in El Paso, when I heard a loud familiar sound. I turned and saw a large, shaven-headed, glassy-eyed, slack-jawed fellow dressed all in black, firing a gun in the general direction of the desert behind the station. Everybody there scattered and dove for cover. I sat behind the dumpster (great choice!), wondering what to do if he should come wandering over, but after a while things got real quiet and we all poked our heads out and went on with our lives.

I have a Texas Safe Hunter certification, but I don't own a gun. Instead, when at home I keep my Richard Brandt-signature Louisville Slugger handy.

#126 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 02:54 PM:

#123 ::: Greg London I don't think you can own a short barelled weapon (pistol length) with a shoulderstock. But it seems like would be the best thing for home defense

Sure you can - most people can, most places in the United States with all the obvious exceptions e.g. DC pending Parker, CA, NYC, MA et. al..

It does require qualifying, registering with a special tax, and is subject to fairly restrictive rules on transporting, let alone carrying. Many, perhaps most, of the common folks who do own short barreled rifles put them in a business or a trust.

Notice that the short barreled rifle is the weapon of choice for MOUT and for much warrant service and other attack on the household. It seems logical the weapon of choice for attack might well be the weapon of choice for defense.

Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch fame is noted for saying the handgun exists to facilitate fighting to the longarm.

#127 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Greg @ 123

My father had a .410 shot pistol (aka 'horse pistol'). Under BATF regs, it's classed as a sawed-off shotgun. He had to do fingerprints, photo, military serial number, and I don't know what else, just to register it. Took months to get through the process, as well as trips to the county sheriff's office. That was in 1993. I don't know what it would take now.

#128 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Terry Karney, 113: Context is all.

Of course, of course. I knew some military folks when I was in college too, and I probably should've made that qualification. (Friend of mine was at Ft. Detrick while I was in school and always brought a vanful of his buddies out to my mom's annual summer party. Now, those guys I'd trust with my safety in a hard spot, guns or no guns. The creative-arts crowd I hung around with the rest of the time? Maybe not so much.)

#129 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:44 PM:

Terry, #100: "The person who is moving, is almost always the one who ends up shot. Trained cops, at the end of a two-week course did an entry and search. The stationary bad guy killed all of them."

The flip side of this is that it suggests that one practical use for a private firearm is self-defense in a shop or office, if that is needed.

ajay, #109: "Going by the current mean wage, this means spending roughly $2000 on a rifle. That's an expensive commitment!" Not a rifle--a smooth-bore musket. A big clumsy muzzle-loader which was about as accurate as a shotgun and had a nasty tendency to misfire, or even explode. To undercut my argument a bit, there were IIRC used muskets available. Still, I don't think a musket was useful for much of anything but militia service--a shotgun was much better for small game, and a rifle for large, provided one had the skill--and you may guess that when the family budget was drawn up, muskets didn't rank very high on it.

The whole idea of conscripting the entire populace, or at least the young white male portion of it strikes me as fairly thoroughly insane for the infant USA. It also wasn't particularly practical. I am now wondering why it ever seemed like a good idea.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Randolph @ 128

Maybe that's the way it had 'always been done'. Remember that the people who wrote it had, a lot of them, been in the militia, or their fathers had, and the militia was still an important element of the military in their lifetimes. Lexington-and-Concord. Minutemen. It didn't matter that they might not have been the best of soldiers, they were people you knew and trusted. (Reading entries like 'served in Captain Jones's company' does give you the idea that it was local loyalty that ran things.)

#131 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 04:57 PM:

Several commenters have recommended the baseball bat as an attractive alternative to a gun for personal defense.

I think it was the writer Andre Dubus who felt that bats could too easily cross the line into lethal territory. Too liable to bash somebody's brains out in the heat of the fray.

Instead, he kept an axe handle under the front seat of his car. (Note: minus an axe HEAD, now.) Apparently it's obtainable at many hardware stores, not illegal to possess, fits well to the hand, looks properly intimidating, and delivers a persuasive but seldom fatal smack.

Final note: I've always felt there's an even more intimidating visual deterrent, though. What punk will care to mess with the gentleman seen packing a flamethrower?

#132 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Just as a weird OT aside: I think the gun thread is having one entertaining effect: The Google ads on the side are running an ad for the Conservative Book Club. There's a beautiful irony here....

#133 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:15 PM:

#129: I know muskets were smoothbore; I meant that in modern terms, it's the equivalent of a law compelling everyone to buy a $2000 assault rifle.

#134 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:40 PM:

An architect friend of ours drove around in his pickup truck with a T-square in the gun rack. One might laugh, but would you go up against a guy with a four foot long by four inch wide piece of flat steel in his hand?

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:43 PM:

WebmasterX is a drive-by, at least so far.

Isn't "Boo hoo control guns, fuck off" stupid (anti-)gnu-control boilerplate? It's also fairly incoherent. Fck ff yrslf, y dt.

#136 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 07:20 PM:

ajay, #132: Duh. Sorry.

#137 ::: John Mill ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 12:12 AM:

ajay

burglars normally don't want to meet householders.

They don't want to meet householders in the US. In the UK and other countries with strict firearms laws, it is far more common for criminals to break in while the family is at home. This way they can rob the family members at the same time.

Fritz

I doubt the modern "pro-gun" reading of the second amendment.

The courts disagree with you.

Greg London

The people who think they will be fully informed of the situation when they pull the trigger tend to be people who've never actually been in that situation.

No doubt. But its odd to hold that against them, isn't it? If you restict firearms use to people who have "been in that situation" then in short order you have banned anyone from having a firearm. Or is that the point?

#138 ::: John Mill ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 12:22 AM:

Randolph Fritz

I doubt the modern "pro-gun" reading of the second amendment. It simply would not have passed in the day if it been an unlimited firearms license--the Federalists never would have supported it. As far as I can tell, it was intended to protect the state militias.

At that time the US had no standing Army. The state militias were the army of the infant United States. So you are claiming that the 2nd Amendment says that the US armed forces have the right to bear arms. It was nice of the founders to clear that up.

#139 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 12:37 AM:

I have read somewhere an interesting piece written on the historical context for the 2nd amndmnt; it attempted to relate the whole odd wording and approach of defining the right to arms as a militia right, with the militia then meaning essentially every adult male, as an extension of an English military tradition of levying footsoldiers and bowmen. That would set it into what it claimed as an older English context in which there was assumed to be both an individual right to arms and a duty to come armed when your king or lord called you up. Indeed it cited various English kings' edicts over previous centuries requiring villages to provide X number of trained bowmen, with their bows, on demand. No idea how accurate this is historically, especially when it gets to 18th century expectations, but it kind of made sense.

Under this interpretation, the 2nd amndmnt would then cover both a collective and an individual right, due to people back then seeing them as inherently related. (This would fit right in with the requirement to provide your own expensive musket which ajay et al. have been discussing.) I imagine this would give jurists fits as to what a reasonable modern interpretation should be, since now the two are rather inherently non-related. You can't just tell the volunteers to grab their own tank and fighter jet off the wall and come running. (A paraphrase of Asimov.)

P.S. "amndmnt" intentionally typoed to avoid Googled drive-bys.

#140 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 12:49 AM:

John 137: Yep. That's what it meant. "Because we need to have militias, everyone has the right to keep and carry weapons." Now we have a standing army. The need for militias is gone. Hello.

Two things, though: The law is not what is written, but what is read. In the United States, the ultimate right to read the law rests with the Supreme Court. (I happen to think the Supremes are a bunch of shitheads, at least 5 of them, but that's the way it goes.)

The other thing is that as our government slouches toward fascism, I see the gun-rights folks' point more and more.

#141 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 12:54 AM:

John(136) Mill,

"In the UK and other countries with strict firearms laws, it is far more common for criminals to break in while the family is at home. This way they can rob the family members at the same time."

Please link up to some valid statistics and factual documents on that; otherwise you sound like you are repeating fear propaganda and urban mythology.

#142 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 01:03 AM:

Yes, that sounds an awful lot like "armed society is polite society," and other pronouncements for which there is no actual evidence.

#143 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 02:54 AM:

Xopher, #139: One point I almost never see made is that at the time of the framing of the Constitution, weapons parity between the government and individuals was much closer than it is now. Think about W*** and R*** R****, two main rallying cries of the gun worshipers. Those people had arsenals, and what good did it do them? No matter how many guns you have, the Feds are going to have more and bigger ones.

When you start talking about having guns "to protect yourself from the government," the only situation in which it has any meaning is that of a general uprising. This scenario is often called the Second American Revolution (although that's a bit of a misnomer, as it would actually be the Third; the Second, which failed, was the Civil War) -- an active revolt with the specific intention of overthrowing the existing government and installing something else.

And if that happens, you'd better hope that the Armed Forces come down on the revolutionary side of the argument, because otherwise it stands little more chance than the ones I previously mentioned.

#144 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 02:59 AM:

I'd think ordinary claims would require no more than ordinary evidence -
This from Arizona Law Review, Summer 2001
Symposium on Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America

.....
II. International Comparisons

It is axiomatic in the United States that burglars avoid occupied homes. As an introductory criminology textbook explains, "Burglars do not want contact with occupants; they depend on stealth for success." [FN8] Only thirteen percent of U.S. residential burglaries are attempted against occupied homes. [FN9] But this happy fact of life, so taken for granted in the United States, is not universal.

The overall Canadian burglary rate is higher than the American one, and a Canadian burglary is four times more likely to take place when the victims are home. [FN10]

In Toronto, forty-four percent of burglaries were against occupied homes, and twenty-one percent involved a confrontation with the victim. [FN11] Most Canadian residential burglaries occur at night, while American burglars are known to prefer daytime entry to reduce the risk of an armed confrontation. [FN12]

Research by the federal government's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that, based on 1994 data, American youths 10 to 17 years old had much higher arrest rates than Canadian youths for every category of violent and property crime. The lone exception was burglary, for which Canadian youths were one-third more likely to be involved. [FN13] In cities such as Vancouver, home invasion burglaries aimed at elderly people have become endemic, and murders of the elderly during those burglaries all too frequent. [FN14] Unfortunately, help from the government is not always available. In Quebec, the provincial police (Sureté du Québec) are under orders from their commander to reduce arrests for burglary, because the jails are full. [FN15]
*348

A 1982 British survey found fifty-nine percent of attempted burglaries involved an occupied home. [FN16] The Wall Street Journal reported:

Compared with London, New York is downright safe in one category: burglary. In London, where many homes have been burglarized half a dozen times, and where psychologists specialize in treating children traumatized by such thefts, the rate is nearly twice as high as in the Big Apple. And burglars here increasingly prefer striking when occupants are home, since alarms and locks tend to be disengaged and intruders have little to fear from unarmed residents. [FN17]

In Britain, seventy-seven percent of the population was afraid of burglary in 1994, compared to sixty percent in 1987. [FN18] The London Sunday Times, pointing to Britain's soaring burglary rate, calls Britain "a nation of thieves." [FN19] In the Netherlands, forty-eight percent of residential burglaries involved an occupied home. [FN20] In the Republic of Ireland, criminologists report that burglars have little reluctance about attacking an occupied residence. [FN21]

Of course, differences in crime-reporting and crime-recording behavior between nations limit the precision of comparative criminal data. Nevertheless, the difference in home invasion burglary rates between the United States and other nations is so large that it is unlikely to be a mere artifact of crime data quirks. [FN22]
*349

Why should American criminals display such a curious reluctance to perpetrate burglaries, particularly against occupied residences? The answer cannot be that the American criminal justice system is so much tougher than the systems in other nations. During the 1980s, the probability of arrest and the severity of sentences for ordinary crimes in Canada and Great Britain were at least as great as in the United States. [FN23] Could the answer be that American criminals are afraid of getting shot? The introductory American criminology textbook states, "Opportunities for burglary occur only when a dwelling is unguarded." [FN24] Why is an axiomatic statement about American burglars so manifestly not true for burglars in other countries.

[FN8]. Freda Adler et al., Criminology 278 (2d ed. 1995).

[FN9]. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Household Burglary, BJS Bull. at 4 (1985).

[FN10]. See Lorne Gunter, Canadians Suffer As Much Crime As Americans, Edmonton J., Mar. 31, 1998 (International Crime Victimization Survey).

[FN11]. See Irwin Waller & Norman Okhiro, Burglary: The Victim and the Public 31 (1978).

[FN12]. For American burglars and daytime entry, see George Rengert & John Wasilchick, Suburban Burglary: A Time and a Place for Everything 30, 62 (1985); John E. Conklin, Robbery and the Criminal Justice System 85 (1972).

A study of an unnamed "northern city" in Ontario for the years 1965-70 reported that 12.2% of burglaries were daytime, 69.5% were nighttime, and 18.3% were unknown. It is certain that no person was home for the "unknown burglaries," since if someone had been home, the time of entry would be known. A large percentage of the nighttime burglaries may have involved a person at home, since most people are at home at night. See Peter Chimbros, A Study of Breaking and Entering Offenses in "Northern City" Ontario, in Crime in Canadian Society 325-26 (Robert A. Silverman & James J. Teevan Jr. eds., 1975).

[FN13]. See Melissa Sickmund et al., Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1997 Update on Violence 36 (1997).

[FN14]. See Peter Kennedy, B.C. Home Invasions Claim New Victim; Woman, 82, Slain, Globe & Mail (Toronto), Nov. 15, 1999.

[FN15]. See Surete du Quebec Will Ignore Break-ins, Journal de Montreal, Jan. 9, 1997, at 15.

[FN16]. See Pat Mayhew, Residential Burglary: A Comparison of the United States, Canada and England and Wales (1987) (citing 1982 British crime survey).

[FN17]. See Kevin Heilliker, Pistol-Whipped: As Gun Crimes Rise, Britain Is Considering Cutting Legal Arsenal, Wall St. J., Apr. 19, 1994, at A1. Many Americans might not find it intuitively obvious that New York City is a place where burglars need to fear armed residents. But the question is not whether New York City has a high rate of gun ownership compared to Texarkana (it does not), but whether New York City has a high rate of household gun ownership compared to London (it does). Although the New York City police licensing bureaucracy throws many obstacles in the way of a person who wants to own a handgun legally, it is relatively easy to obtain a permit to own a shotgun or rifle in New York City. In London, by contrast, legal ownership of any type of gun is very onerous. Moreover, New York City has a huge pool of unregistered firearms (up to three million by police estimates), most of which are potentially available to resist home invasions.

[FN18]. See British Crime Fears Rise, Wall St. J., Mar. 22, 1994, at A11.

[FN19]. See J. Ungoed-Thomas, A Nation of Thieves, Sunday Times, Jan. 11, 1998, at Features Sec., p. 1.

[FN20]. See Richard Block, The Impact of Victimization, Rates and Patterns: A Comparison of the Netherlands and the United States, in Victimization and Fear of Crime: World Perspectives 26 tbl. 3-5 (Richard Block ed., 1984) (reporting data from 1977 Dutch National Crime Survey: 468 burglaries with someone home, 513 burglaries with no one home).

[FN21]. See Claire Nee & Maxwell Taylor, Residential Burglary in the Republic of Ireland: Some Support of the Situational Approach, in Whose Law and Order? Aspects of Crime and Social Control in Irish Society 143 (Mike Tomlinson et al. eds., 1988).

[FN22]. This Article does not suggest that differential rates of defensive gun ownership are the only explanation for the different hot burglary rates among various nations--only that they are a major factor. America, being wealthier than the other countries mentioned in this Article, may have a higher fraction of homes with anti-burglary devices such as alarms or bars. It is possible that American prosecutors may treat nighttime burglaries (which are more likely to be hot burglaries), more severely than do prosecutors in other nations.

[FN23]. See Gary Kleck, Point Blank 140 (1991).

[FN24]. See Adler et al., supra note 8, at 277.
......

In related news
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Friday January 26, 2007
The Guardian

.....
The rise in armed residential robberies from 345 in 2003-04 to 645 last year is an alarming trend .......
The number of armed bank robberies has fallen from 240 in 1995 to only 59 and those involving post offices are also down, from nearly 400 to 108 over the same period. The decline is not explained by branch closures but rather by much improved security measures which have made such premises a "hard target"......

#145 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 03:17 AM:

Dave Bell

and they start to look a lot like an organisation trying to create a police-state.

This doesn't even have to be the result of political ambition or evil motives. These are police officers we're talking about, senior ones who've dedicated their professional lives to the objectives and techniques of police work. So that's their hammer; a police-state is just the most appropriate nail they can think of.

That doesn't make them right, or make a police state more palatable from my point of view. But we need to recognize that sometimes the people we need to oppose are perfectly reasonable and compassionate people by their own lights. And we still need to oppose them.

#146 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 03:45 AM:

Alex Cohen @ 110

I've never fired anything bigger than 105 mm*, but I definitely wouldn't want to carry one or have one in my home.

And they're a real bear to draw and fire.

#147 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 04:02 AM:

Greg London @ 123

I never qualified expert, but I can hit a target with a rifle and a hard sight at 300 meters with some regularity. And, with a braced hold, I can hit a target with .45 automatic at 50 meters without too much trouble*, though I doubt I'd be all that good one-handed. Having said that, I once knew a fellow who hated the model 1911 pistol so much that when he was handed one on the range, he proved that he was more likely to hit the 50 meter target by throwing the gun than by shooting it.

* I should make that all in the past tense; I haven't fired a weapon in a long time.

#148 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 04:40 AM:

> You end up with evil-associated terms like "sawed off shotgun" and whatnot.

cf #77 "A shotgun, at in-house distances needs just as much aiming as a handgun (spread at 10 feet, with modified choke is less than three inches)".
Obviously there's a tradeoff and if you make the spread too wide you end up with something that will mostly miss even if your aim is accurate, but a sawn off shotgun would (if I haven't misunderstood the principle) seen to be a plausible answer.
I assume the legal problem is because it's also a good answer to the question "what would be a good weapon for armed robbery".

#149 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 09:02 AM:

#142 Lee:

I've always wondered if the Swiss model (near universal conscription, most everyone part of the militia, most everyone with access to their guns and often other cached weapons) isn't a better way of accomplishing this. The issue now is that the military is pretty distinct from the population. In 50 years, maybe it becomes even more so--maybe we start recruiting heavily from overseas, say. That's a situation where it may work to turn the military on the people.

FWIW, I'm not an advocate of either gun control or the draft. I just think if your goal is to make it hard for the government to oppress the citizens with the military, the Swiss model probably works better than letting people buy handguns and shotguns and rifles at Wal-Mart.

#150 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 09:11 AM:

#147 Alan:

I think it may just be a result of the history of gun control arguments, gun violence, etc., in the same way that switchblades and assault rifles and saturday night specials became big threats.

#151 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 09:26 AM:

#48 Jacob Davies: "I find the incidentals in this case more telling than anything to do with the guns. For example, this guy was alienated, hostile, and could probably have used more help than he received. Of course, many of us were alienated and hostile and could have used more help when we were teenagers or in college, and we didn't go on killing sprees; the answer is certainly not to try to pick out future spree-killers from the troubled. But what would help, statistically, is reducing the number of troubled young people in the first place."

Thank you. This is what I think after every spree shooting--the problem isn't that it's possible for people to go on rampages (either because guns are too easy or too hard to get), it's that there are people who honestly feel that going on a rampage is their best option. But once you admit that that might be the problem, the sheer immensity of the problem becomes daunting--how can we become a society that doesn't turn people into killers? What kind of profound social change are we talking about? It's almost inconceivable in scope.

"For sure, helping troubled young people is the right thing to do anyway. But it also seems to me to be the pragmatic thing to do to reduce the number of spree killings."

Somehow it always surprises me, how often the pragmatic, actually-addresses-the-problem approach lines up with the fluffy-bunny liberal approach. Gosh, maybe all that conservative trash talk about "pie-in-the-sky liberals" is just that.

#142 Lee: "Those people had arsenals, and what good did it do them? No matter how many guns you have, the Feds are going to have more and bigger ones."

S'funny, when I first thought of this point I was sure it was going to be the coup de grace against my "we need guns to protect us from the gummit!" friend, but somehow it morphed into a rationale for the sale of armor-piercing rounds before my very eyes.

#152 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 09:35 AM:

I'm curious about a factoid I saw, I think here, claiming that the Swiss issue sealed boxes of ammunition, inspect those boxes on occasion, and can put you in jail if the box has been opened.

Is this accurate? (It sounds so sensible that I forgot to question it.) I have a hunch someone here can quickly provide a definitive citation, and that'd be a worthwhile factoid to refine into fact.

#153 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Heresiarch @ 150 S'funny, when I first thought of this point I was sure it was going to be the coup de grace against my "we need guns to protect us from the gummit!" friend, but somehow it morphed into a rationale for the sale of armor-piercing rounds before my very eyes

Ah, yes. The "I can't die--I'm the hero in this movie" mindset.

Query for those who play first-person shooter games: How many of those games rely on your having more and better firepower than your opponants in order to win? While I don't think there's a strict correlation between fictional violence and real-world violence, I think fictional violence does display certain ways of thinking that dovetail with real-world violence. Within certain mindsets, those ways of thinking and acting become perfectly reasonable and logical.

#154 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 10:55 AM:

When I was there (Switzerland) the basic combat loadout was blister packed (for convenience rather than security I suspect but it wasn't an issue) and subject to routine inspection - pass muster - but additional ammunition was freely (as in beer and speech) available and of course routine practice was encouraged and subsidized. The chance of going to jail for tampering with war reserves was minuscule compared to the chance of being chewed out - of course depending on the facts in the case. Anybody so foolish as to tamper with the war reserve rather than ask for more ammunition and an extra cup of coffee was too stupid to breath. Maybe one of the kids got into it would do for an excuse?

Currently there are strong differences of opinion across Cantons on the place of guns just as there are about immigration and all the other issues afflicting the world.

Although I like a Swiss system of universal service for the benefits to society I think universal service brings to the table there are many drawbacks.

On the one hand any school system that sends to basic a recruit who can't read or is otherwise unprepared will be disgraced and remedied - even the boy scout compass is graduated in artillery mils because it is the army issue compass.

On the other hand universal military service does not give a professional army trained to the highest levels of modern technological warfare. Traditionally there was an interchange between the Swiss Airforce and SwissAir with reserved jobs. Today the most modern combat aircraft are designated exclusively for cadre - full time fighter pilots.

Can't call it the gripping hand "the issue is in doubt". Construction workers helped make that phrase live. Some of the very best of the allied Cherry Berets got chewed up by German home guard troops when the Allies landed on the Germans' home territory and the old folks didn't have to walk very far to kill an invader.

I first had this argument a long long time ago with a man who took a reserve unit to Korea and watched them die for lack of current training. He won my vote.

#155 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Anecdotal evidence on home burglaries: the ones I've heard about, all of them, have been during the day.

One time it was the next-door neighbor, who came home for lunch and found the guy leaving, wearing socks on his hands (he obviously knew about not leaving fingerprints).

One time it was a friend of a friend, who came home and discovered they'd taken everything including the furniture. His neighbors had seen the van, but 'thought he was moving'.

The others involved items taken from outside the house, but not necessarily visible from the street.

#156 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 12:16 PM:

#152 Aconite: "Ah, yes. The "I can't die--I'm the hero in this movie" mindset."

It was more along the lines of "A citizen militia is never going to be able to compete against a full-time, professional and professionally-equipped force." "Aha! So clearly the militia needs to have access to tanks, armor-piercing rounds, etc.!" She can't help it, she grew up in Texas--it's a nostalgia thing.

As for your FPS question, it depends: if you are playing multi-player, then everyone is drawing from the same pool, more or less--otherwise it would be unfair to one side. In single-player, the weapons you have are generally looted from fallen enemies. The unfair player advantages usually come from increased health, poor AI, and of course being able to do it over and over until you get it right (an option not yet available in the real world).

I think far more damaging for people's grasp of the reality of violence are the situations where you are given a boot knife and work your way through a whole facility of heavily-armed guards. Though I am unconvinced that playing a violent video game is significantly more desensitizing than watching a violent movie, or even reading The Iliad.

#157 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Clark E. Myers @ 110: Who's Roy Chapman? And what exactly did you mean in the last part of your 153 (starting with "Can't call it the gripping hand..."?

#158 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 02:20 PM:

The people who think they will be fully informed of the situation when they pull the trigger tend to be people who've never actually been in that situation.

John@136: No doubt. But its odd to hold that against them, isn't it? If you restict firearms use to people who have "been in that situation" then in short order you have banned anyone from having a firearm. Or is that the point?

My point was simply this: Give someone a parachute and throw them out a plane with no training, and most people are gonna die. I've jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. You want to know what the fck you're doing.

What Old Jarhead is saying is the equivalent advice for firearms. You want to know what the fk you're doing.

That isn't saying that the only people who should skydive are people who have already jumped out of an airplane before. It's saying encouraging some yahoo to get a gun for self defense is about as smart as encouraging some guy to purchase a parachute and jump out of an airplane with no training.

For comparison, skydiving isn't regulated by laws. It's regulated by private organizations who do self-regulation because they don't want some government bureaucrat who doesn't know a damn thing about skydiving to come in and pass a bunch of arbitrary and stupid regulations. And it works well that way.

I don't have a problem with people skydiving anymore than I have a problem with people owning weapons. But if some office geek gets scared about something in the news and asks whether they should get a gun, Old Jarhead's questionaire is a good place to start finding a reasonable answer.

If you're not going to train regularly. If you aren't going to put the time into it every month, then you'll probably make any violent situation you find yourself in, worse.

I find it kind of funny that there is a vein of nutcases out there who bristle at any suggestion that some people are probably better off without guns, as if its any different than suggesting some people are better off never skydiving. The malcolm driveby guy is a good example. And he's probably someone who shouldn't have a weapon.

People who aren't good at managing their fear, probably shouldn't jump out of an airplane.

People who aren't good at managing their anger and fear, probably shouldn't own a firearm. If someone starts talking about fear based "what if"s as reasons for owning a gun, (what if someone tries to rape my wife. what if the government becomes a tyranny. what if there's an apocalyptic catastrophe, and there are no police.) then they need to manage their fear, not buy a gun.

And no, I'm not suggesting a law for that.

#159 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 02:34 PM:

xopher@141: that sounds an awful lot like "armed society is polite society," and other pronouncements for which there is no actual evidence.

One could probably find some evidence for that assertion being partly true. The thing is that only an idiot would think that the only reason people are polite is because everyone's got a gun.

Society is not held together with the glue of retribution.

Unfortunately, the folks most adamanat that society really is glued together with the threat of violence, are (a) borderline sociopaths by the very definition and (b) the most adamant that they be allowed to own a gun, lest society collapse around them.

And hence, our problem.

#160 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 03:07 PM:

With regards to the Swiss, they just recently had a vote on gun control issues and it was a nasty ugly fight and the reason for it in the first place was they were getting a jump in gun violence and deaths shattering their age old myth.

As for the B&E while occupants are home. In our corner of Canada the media calls them "home invasions" being so rare that they make the news broadcast. They are either by gangs after specific targets, we were questioned on one that happen one evening across the street and the criminals waited till the adults were gone and the kids were with a babysitter no way in hell a gun would change that, or they are against seniors and other vulnerable targets at the door. Who answers the door with gun in hand ready to fire.

Clarke(143), It is not an ordinary claim. And most sensible adults know to well how often statistics are manipulated for agenda so cynicism has its place. The too many science and math class youth in me likes to pick apart the data and question the conclusions.

#161 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 04:05 PM:

#156 ::: Andy
Who's Roy Chapman?
First IPSC World Champion - 1975 World Shoot I Zurich, Switzerland. A teach the teachers qualified shooter.
Cooper, a born teacher, founded Gunsite Training Center and the American Pistol Institute near Paulden, Arizona, in 1975 to develop and teach defensive pistolcraft and later riflecraft and the defensive use of the shotgun. At about the same time (or a little before), Roy Chapman, one of the original Gunslingers, started his Chapman Academy of Practical Shooting in Hallsville, Missouri. From these beginnings, schools that teach practical (more or less) techniques of firearms have sprung up all over the country.
Finn Aagaard writing for Wolfe Publications
The point is something about what the very best in the world can expect to accomplish.

And what exactly did you mean in the last part of your 153 (starting with "Can't call it the gripping hand..."?

As you know Bob gripping hand is a reference to: on the one hand, on the other hand, on the gripping hand.(Pournelle and Niven) Here there is no conclusive argument, no gripping hand. The militia sometimes pull through Oh! thus be it ever......

#162 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 04:34 PM:

#159 ::: T.W
Clarke [sic](143), It is not an ordinary claim.

Silly me, I thought the notion that incentives incent and disincentives discourage to be well settled. I quoted the Guardian first as likely to be considered more credible in these surroundings - if not, here's a quote from The Times of recent date:

HOUSE-BREAKING BY NUMBERS: THE REAL RISKS AND THE LAW EXPLAINED
Total recorded domestic burglaries 402,333.
Last year 3.2% of all households were victims but it varies by area:
Inner city 5.3%
Urban 3.3%
Rural 1.9%
Contact with burglars
Somebody was at home: 51% of cases
They saw the offender: 24%
There was no violence: 88%
Threats or violence were used: 12%
Violence was used: 7%
(2002-03 BCS figures, all burglaries).
Burglaries solved 13% (2003-04).

[emphasis added]

What can you do to fight back?

The law says that householders are entitled to use “reasonable force” to protect themselves, their family and their property. What is “reasonable” depends on the circumstances.
Using ordinary household items — such as a cricket bat, golf club or poker — to defend yourself or your home is considered reasonable.
If you genuinely believe that a burglar is armed with a weapon such as a knife or a gun, using a kitchen knife or a shotgun would also be considered reasonable.
In a recent case Kenneth Faulkner, 73, defended his remote farm by shooting an intruder in the leg. He was arrested but was not prosecuted. At the burglar’s trial the judge said that, in the circumstances, it was a “pity” that the Crown Prosecution Service had even contemplated prosecuting Faulkner.
The law, however, does not permit “retaliation” against a burglar. Chasing a burglar down the road and stabbing him in the back is not reasonable. “It is not for victims, vigilantes or anyone else to take the law into their own hands,” says the Home Office.

Is the civil law on the burglar’s side?
No. In 2003 the government changed the law so that a burglar who is injured by a householder in the course of committing an imprisonable offence cannot sue for compensation unless given permission by a court.

#163 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 05:06 PM:

Lets see fun with statistics. For my city, data up to the current month are on the web even without the population boom our B&E rate appears to be going down all together. There is no break down on day vrs night or occupants home vrs not. First hand experience(us,family and friends) is that occupants home is rare in this city. As for our gun statistics it is a guesstimate at best because the government did a half assed job of implementing registration recently.

Vancouver, B.C. 2001: total poulation 545,671 private households 236,095 the B&E is for 2002- 6386 residences.
2006: total poluation 578,041 private households 273,804 B&E residences 4735
Yep, I need to go out and get me a gun in the face of a declining threat.

#164 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 06:45 PM:

Andy @156: [..] what exactly did you mean in the last part of your 153 (starting with "Can't call it the gripping hand..."?

If you're asking what was meant by "the gripping hand", it comes from three-handed aliens in The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, which came out in 1974*. The gripping hand is what they called their third hand. The sequel to the book was even titled The Gripping Hand. This also led to a meme in SF fandom, for three-valued positions described as 'on one hand [A], on the other hand [B], on the gripping hand [C]'.

* It's been a while since I've read it; I can't recall if only a particular caste of Moties had been three-handed, or if it had been a characteristic of the entire race.

#165 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 08:11 PM:

John Mills 144, Clark Myers 162: Gun ownership is also higher in the US than in Canada, but there are more burglaries of occupied houses in the US than there are in Canada. Your reasoning doesn't hold water.

http://timlambert.org/category/guns/burglary/

#166 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 08:54 PM:

Clark E Myers, #144: Some of the references in your cited text are suspect; enough to cast doubt on the whole argument. In particular footnotes 17 & 18 are to Wall Street Journal articles, and 19 refers to the Sunday Times--wonder which Times is meant. These aren't peer-reviewed sources, and I can only wonder at an author that cites them and expects the credence given to scholarly research. Then we have footnote 22: "This Article does not suggest that differential rates of defensive gun ownership are the only explanation for the different hot burglary rates among various nations--only that they are a major factor. [...]" Could we have a factor analysis, please?

But the concluding paragraph gives it away; it never actually draws a conclusion, thought it is apparently intended to leave a casual reader with the sense that a conclusion has been drawn based on reliable research. This is garbage. The truth of the matter is that the hypothesis the author argues needs at least a book-length analysis based on careful research and, absent that analysis, it's just one more poorly-supported "America is better and guns are good" claim.

#167 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 10:10 PM:

it's just one more poorly-supported "America is better and guns are good" claim.

Hey, America is better. things are more moderner than before, bigger, and yet smaller, it's computers...

San Dimas High School football rules!

#168 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 01:54 AM:

Greg London, #167: LOL. Thank you. I really appreciated that.

#169 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 12:15 PM:

#166 -... 19 refers to the Sunday Times--wonder which Times is meant...

Wonder no more but read the text cited: The London Sunday Times, pointing to Britain's soaring burglary rate, calls Britain "a nation of thieves." [FN19] Extended quotation supra emphasis added.

The quote at #162 which I attribute to the Times is also to the Times and not to The New York Times.

As to a factor analysis - do it yourself - I never (what never?...) well hardly ever, try to argue people by logic out of positions they have taken by emotion. Hoplophobes shouldn't have guns.

I expect that in the near future of the United States
(1)residents of gated communities
(who has used green zone in a story in the current sense?)
will vote to disarm the hoi polloi
(2) MS-13 and such will keep the streets full of guns
followed by
(3)death squads in the manner of the Ramparts Division (who operated with local community support).

Arguing is pretty moot really but moot courts can be entertaining - some here are worse than stupid they are boring. I do try to avoid stupid gnu-control flaming boilerplate on either side. Apparently I have failed.

#170 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Sorry, Clark, could you be a bit more sneering and dismissive please? I don't think it's quite coming across.

#171 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Clark asks, "Who has used green zone in a story in the current sense?" Not I, but I've been thinking of gated communities as kraals (possibly inaccurately) for quite some time now.

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Interesting commentary in today's The Oregonian.

Last October, a frat boy with a gun collection saw a homeless guy rooting around in a dumpster. Picked up one of his rifles and shot the guy. Hit him in the thigh. Did what a responsible gun enthusiast would do: Hid the rifle (just a .22, so maybe he thought it didn't count) and denied responsibility.

He got off with probation and public service.

I wonder if the NRA called for arming the homeless after the incident.

#173 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 04:30 PM:

Clark Myers, #169. All right, all right, I'll give you that reading back into the text does identify the source; it's still a rotten footnote which wouldn't pass muster in an undergrad paper (no page numbers, either), and it seems to reference an opinion piece to boot. A lot of the footnotes seem to reference opinion pieces, unfortunately--another strike against the text. Seriously, it's not emotional bias that leads me to reject that text; it's that its references are poor--you're not going to persuade anyone who reads critically with it. Ironically, I'm actually fairly sympathetic to the hypothesis the text argues; regardless of policy implications, it may well be right. But the text, and your snapping at me, do your cause no credit.

#174 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 08:27 PM:

#76 Eric, Sorry so late in responding. You points are good basic gun safety. When I say muzzle disipline I mean a level of control WAY above those points ( "1) Don't ever point a gun at something you don't want perforated, and 2) Guns are always loaded, thanks to the Evil Bullet Fairy."). And yes, clearing and safetying a gun on the range is the upmost important.

When I say muzzle disipline I mean, you NEVER sweep. You NEVER take the weapon out of safety until you have a target. You NEVER look away from where a pointed weapon is pointed before safetying the weapon (safety in this context doesn't mean engaging the safety, which you should never trust anyway). The weapon is not leveled and your finger on the trigger until you have a clear range of fire, a target aquired, and you're about to shoot. The movie cop position of sweeping a room, coming around a corner and leveling before target aquisition, etc. is the surest way for you to get slapped around (verbally and possibly physically) by the range safety officer.

If you never trained on having to break contact with the target because a friendly got in the way (that is, if your right arm man crosses in front of you and your barrel is level, you are oh so much in trouble) please do not attempt to engage in a crowded situation.

Basic range safety is the first step in what I am talking about with muzzle disipline.

Last year a kid here in Cleveland was shot to death in his bedroom after jumping out of the closet with a knife while officers were looking for him. He was shot something like 12 times by 3 officers. Some people at work were talking about how it was understandable because the officers would have had their fingers on the trigger, clearing rooms like they always see them do in the movies. My comment was if they had the safeties off and their fingers on the triggers sweeping the rooms, the officers deserved to be hauled into court and put in jail, because you just don't do that.

When you see soldiers clearing rooms, bringing their arms up as they go into the room (notice where those muzzles are pointing before they go in) it's because they all have prearranged shooting zones which do not place the other members that have already entered or which will be entering from being accidentally shot. And as they bring their weapons to ready, they better not be sweeping up the backs of their mates who have gone in before (again, on a range and in practice, that will get you a chewing out).

You know, unless you're hunting with the VP and then all bets are off.

Anyway, that level of training probably wouldn't fit in a 10 hour course which has a heavy book portion.

#175 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 11:34 PM:

John Mill, #138: "At that time the US had no standing Army. The state militias were the army of the infant United States."

Sic transit gloria Continental Army, I guess. The following quote, from Mahon's History of the Militia and the National Guard captures much of the value and problems of the militia in the Revolution:

"They come in," [Washington] wrote, "you cannot tell how, go you cannot tell when, and act you cannot tell where, consume your provisions, exhaust your stores, and leave you at last at a critical moment." Yet it was the militia, however unreliable, that saw his army through 1775.
So the way you tell it is not how it was.

Teresa, I'm sorry to be rehashing this here--I'd really rather be reading Julie Phillips. But it seems to need saying again. I am hoping that, eventually, some of the right-wingers who genuinely value history and respect figures like Washington will be encouraged to learn a bit more of the real history, and rethink their views.

#176 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:42 AM:

Steve @ 174: My comment was if they had the safeties off and their fingers on the triggers sweeping the rooms, the officers deserved to be hauled into court and put in jail, because you just don't do that.

I don't know what officers in Cleveland pack, but a large fraction of US cops now carry Glocks or similar pistols without a manual safety (and hence operate more like the traditional police .357 or .38 double-action revolver.) Regardless, your point is valid, and leading with the muzzle as you turn a corner is a pretty reliable way to get your pistol taken away from you, and then used on you. The rather large fraction of officers killed who are shot with thieir own duty weapons (and the increasing popularity of holsters designed for serious weapon retention) affirms the grave importance of knowing how to hold, carry, and hold on to, one's weapon.

#177 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 08:42 AM:

Stefan #170:

Is this anecdote any more informative than the ones that involve the unarmed woman being raped and murdered, in a circumstance where a gun would have saved her? Arguing by vaguely-remembered anecdote is unlikely to get a reasonable answer.

#178 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 08:51 AM:

TW #163:

I think the whole point of the beginning of this thread is that you should not run out and buy a gun without a lot of thought, and some serious commitment to knowing how to use it safely.

But I think the argument being made there is about whether, in the same environment, decreased gun ownership leads to more home invasions. This is plausible, but I think you need some more careful analysis to find out if it's true. A good way to do this would be to find a "natural experiment," where gun ownership was radically decreased over a small time, and the home invasion rate went up dramatically.

So pointing out that the Canadian rate is lower than the US rate, or that the UK rate is higher, doesn't settle the matter. To use another example: the murder rate in rural North Carolina is quite low, despite easy access to guns. The murder rate in DC is very high, despite strict gun control. You can't infer *anything* about the impact of gun control on the murder rate from that information, because the cases are so different. It's like saying "Spanish is spoken in Spain, French in Haiti, therefore French-speaking is the cause of dire poverty and terrible crime."

#179 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 10:35 AM:

albatross@178: whether, in the same environment, decreased gun ownership leads to more home invasions.

I wasn't going even going to bother getting involved in that whole argument. Teaching a pig to sing, and all that. A gun nut will never voluntarily give up his personal arsenal. Even if all the statistics in the world proved that the world was worse off because he has them. Because his argument is all about what's best for him, not the rest of the world. His arguments about home invasions have nothing to do with doing whatever makes the world a safer place. They have everything to do with what he thinks will make his home a safer place, and to hell with the social consequences.

No argument will convince him to give up his arsenal. you: Isn't society is worse off with untrained people running around armed? Gunnut: then it would be in their best interest to get training. you: So we should make it a legal requirement that people get training before they get a gun? gunnut: that violates the second amendment, and would allow the government to disarm the population.

Home invasions are yet another irrelevant argument to a gnnut's interests. First of all the caveat "in the same envirnonment" should be a red flag to neutral folks that there is no such thing as "same environment", that cultural norms (such as gun-crazy americans versus non-crazy people in the rest of the world), and economic factors (unless the assumption is that every single burgalar would invade homes even if their economic situation were different) make a huge difference.

And I wasn't going to get involved in that part of the debate, simply because it's one situation where I realize it's trying to teach a pig to sing. But now that you've laid it out in one plain sentence, I just gotta ask whether you realize that these arguments have nothing to do with what's best for society as a whole? gunnuts presents them that way, but the truth of the matter is that a gunnut will keep his arsenal no matter how damaging it is to the rest of society.

You're arguing against what amounts to little more than lip service to what's best for society. he doesn't care. He just wants his guns.

And the sooner you realize that, the sooner you realize that arguing against it is arguing against a smokescreen.

The most adamant gun nuts are fear-based gun owners. They're afraid of burgalars, of muggers, of tyrannical government, of anarchy in the streets, and having an arsenal to fight in the post-apocalyptic world makes them feel safer. Whether they really ARE safer is irrelevant, it makes them FEEL safer. And it has nothing to do with whether or not the whole of society is safer if every single person had an equally larger arsenal as them. They aren't driven by what's best for society. They are driven by what they feel is best for them. and their feelings are fear based.

Arguments about home invasion rates for a nation are a smoke screen. They don't give a damn about the nation. Their arsenal is all about what they dogmatically believe is best for them.

The question you might ask, instead, is:

What would it take for you to give up your weapons?

And if the response comes back with a lot of hemming and hawing, and a lot of conditions that can never be met, and it basically boils down to "NEVER!", then discussions about home invasion rates for various countries, while interesting, won't actually affect anyone's behaviour.

#180 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 12:29 PM:

During my first year of college, hundreds of miles from home, I attracted the notice of a nut who escalated threats to do violence to himself if I didn't pay attention to his "needs" to threats to do violence to me. I was very anti-gun at the time, but my then-boyfriend (now husband) was a libertarian and a believer in the second amendment, which was one of the few things I didn't like about him, come to think of it. I went through the usual rigamarole with the police and the local authorities, and went to court for the restraining orders that I'd always thought would protect me, if it came to that. They certainly didn't stop the psycho from leaving anonymous notes at my dorm room door, sometimes accompanied by dead flowers, sometimes, by dead animals. There was no proof, of course, and an overtaxed metropolitan police force (understandably) didn't have the resources for a thorough investigation and arrest.

Somewhere along the line my boyfriend convinced me to buy a .22. I was in a may issue state, and a very left-liberal one at that, but a local cop looked at the restraining orders I held and cast a sympathetic eye upon my plight. My boyfriend taught me how to use it--we went to the shooting range once a week, I learned not to flinch from the recoil, and I psyched myself up for a time when I might have to use it.

That time came on an evening when my roommates and I were having a large party in our common room and the psycho snuck through the open door, through the crowd, and into my bedroom, where I was getting ready for the party and half-dressed. The conversation you'd expect ensued. Because I'd known it might come to this, and I'd prepared myself for it, I reached into my drawer, pulled my gun, made a big show about the safety, and pointed. He backed out of the room, and ran. Apart from a few creepy email messages, I never heard from or saw the guy again.

I'm still not very pro-gun. I have a visceral disgust for them, associating them, like many on this thread, with nuts and religious fundamentalists. And I heartily, heartily agree with all of Old Jarhead's points, even if my little .22 did prove to be a kind of magic wand. (As I said, it was a very liberal state. I think my potential attacker had probably never seen a gun in his life. I doubt simply brandishing it would have worked against a hardened criminal, although I suppose it might have evened the odds a bit.) But I also have a deep and abiding sympathy with people, especially women, who find themselves in such situations. The police's resources are, by their nature, limited. On the other hand, a stalker's resources and level of interest are limitless. I unsubscribed myself from almost every campus organization or list to keep my location a secret. I stayed off campus with a dean of the college for weeks, varied my route and my schedule, warned friends and casual acquaintances alike not to provide any information about me to strangers. Still, he got through.

My husband and I still disagree on the limits (if any) of gun laws, but I have to admit that I'm beginning to see his side of the matter. If the right to carry concealed was properly limited to non-criminals, the sane, and the people who actually wanted to go to the effort and expense of owning a handgun and training to use it (which I think wouldn't be a very large percentage of the population), I wonder if things would turn out so very badly after all. I used to believe they would, but I have to wonder if someone with a weapon and training might have gotten through to this monster in Virginia in enough time to save at least a few of those poor kids. Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it's ultimately futile to extract policy from extraordinary and ultimately anecdotal incidents. Maybe we need a cooling off period before we decide how we feel about them, and what, if anything, can be done. But I believe, at the very least, that guns can help even the odds for women in particular. It requires quite a bit of physical strength to hold off a determined (male) attacker; it requires considerably less to arm yourself and make sure that you're prepared to defend yourself if it comes to that. I got quite a kick out of the "rape whistles" that my college provided two years after I was nearly raped.

#181 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Greg, #179: "A gun nut will never voluntarily give up his personal arsenal."

But...didn't you?

I think the main reason to argue these points, though, is not to persuade the truly obsessed, but rather to weaken their rhetorical hold on the debate. And the first step in that is to find the holes in their arguments. Most of the "radical pro-gun" arguments, to give them a name, are superficially convincing, and wrong--their advocates have to rewrite history to get their legal arguments, and ignore the realities of crime and firearms safety to get their personal ownership arguments. I truly hate the amount of deception--it passes error--that goes into these. It seems to me important to get valid history, sociology, and weapons safety information out; it simply is not heard often enough. And the radical pro-gun arguments endanger people, both personally, and as society. The personal problems of firearms ownership have been covered in the text that started this article. As to the social problems, I cannot stress enough that, should, the radical pro-gun groups win their case in the Supreme Court--and they may--it will be at the expense of the integrity and honesty of that institution.

So that's why I still write about these things. I figure in another 20 years, many more people will be agreeing with me, and who knows if anyone will remember that I was writing about this back when. Or maybe not. But one has to start somewhere.

#182 ::: Eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:44 PM:

Steve @ 174: "Anyway, that level of training probably wouldn't fit in a 10 hour course which has a heavy book portion."

If there isn't time to teach good muzzle discipline, then I certainly share your concerns about those Ohio gun-safety classes. Where I grew up, we generally learned range safety in Cub Scouts, sometime around our 8th birthdays, which provides a good starting point for more advanced gun safety.

Many of rules you listed, however, should really follow from "Never point a gun at something you don't want bullet holes in," if you consider it as an absolute rule. The key word here is "never," and it needs to be drilled into people's heads in about 6 different ways:

1) Don't ever point guns at people, unless want to kill them immediately.
2) No, really--I'm not kidding about rule (1).
3) Hey! Don't sweep that gun across your partner, you lunatic! Didn't you hear rule (1)? (This rule is best learned with specially-marked fake guns that can't possibly be mistaken for the real thing. There are some nice brightly-colored Glocks that police departments use for this purpose.)
4) You partner just stepped in front of you. Point that muzzle at the floor, you idiot!
5) Hey, watch this video of Navy SEALS clearing a building. Notice the way they never point their guns at each other, even when 6 of them leap through a tiny door and shoot every target in the room?

...and so on. Another critical aspect of this rule (which was drilled into us at a very young age) was:

6) Know what's behind your target. What's on the other side of those bushes? What's behind that wall? If you don't know, you don't raise your gun.

Good trigger discipline was something that I didn't truly learn until later, when I first shot handguns on a range. My earlier experience had all been with rifles, and many rifle-safety classes are weak in this area. But that's another absolute rule: Your finger rests on the trigger guard, not the trigger, until the moment that you actually fire.

And if you're going to carry a handgun, you need to get very good at weapon retention. I know a police officer who once had a 6-year-old girl attempt to draw his handgun from behind. Fortunately, his gun retention skills were exceptionally good, and totally reflexive; he didn't lose control of his gun for even an instant. But that's because he treated handgun use as a martial art, and because he trained constantly.

#183 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Greg #179:

For any issue, there are people whose emotional needs determine their vote. Look at abortion, gun control, drug legalization, affirmative action, the war in Iraq, gay marriage, government-provided healthcare, etc. There are also people who care about some level of rational discussion on the issues. I can accept that many people aren't going to change their position on any number of these issues, regardless of the data available. Others will. I'm not convinced that the gun control discussion is just zealots, or that either side of it is just zealots--instead, it looks to me like there are some people reacting emotionally ("Don't grab my guns!" "Keep me safe from those lunatics!") and others trying to think through the issues and the data, or maybe just trying to find an internal justification for changing their own position.

I'd separate that from the good for me/good for society question. What's best for me is also an empirical question, not an emotional one. Old Jarhead's post is a nice piece of information in that direction.

#184 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Randolph Fritz @ 102
The oldest usage of the term"'well-regulated militia" I am aware of is from Fletcher's A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias, published in 1698. By "well-regulated militia" Fletcher meant univeral conscription and military training. The Framers, in The Militia Act of 1792 (I love linking to a winger site), also enacted universal conscription (a law largely honored in the breach) and added a requirement for members of the militia to arm themselves at their own considerable expense--a model 1795 musket manufactured in the Springfield Armory in 1792 cost $10.87, roughly 15 days of a carpenter's pay in Massachussets at the time, or 25 days of an agricultural laborer's pay. (Source; it's an Excel spreadsheet. Lots more historical wage data files at the International Institute of Social History's site.)

I doubt the modern "pro-gun" reading of the second amendment. It simply would not have passed in the day if it been an unlimited firearms license--the Federalists never would have supported it. As far as I can tell, it was intended to protect the state militias.

My suspicion has always been that since the US and the states at that time were broke, they were trying to figure out how to get an army on the cheap when needed. You save an awful lot of money when you conscript people, call them volunteers (unpaid) and make them buy their own weapons.

#185 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 03:14 PM:

A more guns leads to less crime argument from the Celtic lands -
PROSTITUTION tolerance zones were praised yesterday by a businesswoman who claimed that they could help local residents and workers feel safer.
Annie Rhodes, the managing director of book wholesalers Bookspeed, based in such a zone in Leith, said they could lead to a drop in vandalism and house breaking.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee, she said: “The main activity, of course, was the women being there working. Local children may have wanted to go and use the areas to write on the walls or start fights. That just didn’t happen. We had no instances of that at all.” the Times

Truly a sporting use


#186 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Greg, #179: "A gun nut will never voluntarily give up his personal arsenal."

Randolph@181: But...didn't you?

Yes, but it wasn't based on anything that anyone argued to me. No one proved it to me. Real life happened. The above was all said in the context of "teaching a pig to sing". if said pig learns to sing, it won't be because of your music lessons, it will be because nanites were injected into their bloodstream which rearranged their brain and gave them a language processing center.

And while I get it's good to counter the stupid propaganda from various gunnuts, the same way its good to counter propaganda from the chickenhawks on the Iraq war, etc, the poitn I was trying to make is that folks should counter the argument for the benefit of other readers who may be taken in by said propaganda. Arguing with a gunnut is back to teachign a pig to sing.

Which isn't to say that I don't get sucked in by knuckleheads on occaission, thinking I just might be able to get them to hit a middle C. I just happened to see it this time and was pointing it out.

And I stand by my statement in the context it was given. Given someone who is terrified of some boogeyman in the world, who tries to calm their fear by acquiring an ever expanding arsenal of weapons, nothing you say in a debate will ever get them to lower their defenses. Unless you're discussing their fear, which they will go to great pains to make sure that's not a topic of conversation, you're not addressing the real issue for their pro-gun nuttery.

#187 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 07:40 PM:

albatross@183: there are people whose emotional needs determine their vote. ... there are people whose emotional needs determine their vote.

Yes, I was trying to make that distinction. Except, I was emphasizing the bit about the emotional folks. Rather than argue with them, which is essentially a waste of time, counter their propaganda with a short bit of truth for any other readers who might stumble upon the koolaid and consider taking a sip.

#188 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2007, 10:09 PM:

Clark @ 169

death squads in the manner of the Ramparts Division (who operated with local community support)

The local community pretty much didn't know what this unit was really doing (the one they were doing the damage in may have, but they weren't getting attention from anyone, and it's still uncertain how much complaining they actually did).

They were presented as an anti-gang unit. They got into illegal activities (IIRC, one was arrested for burglary and that was the *milder* end of it). There was a prior unit that got into trouble for letting the people they were watching commit *several* crimes (some violent) before arresting them. We're wondering if the current anti-gang movement will go the same way; the precedent is not good.

#189 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 01:18 AM:

P.J.: The previous unit was a special unit, operating out of Parker Center; not tied to any division.

They answered one of Gates assistants, and the idea was to let them commit "real" crimes, so they weren't just being busted for parole violations.

Good plan that; armed robberies so they could get new trials, instead of just violating them and sending them back for 10-20 (or life) on the sentence outstanding.

So they shoot people in the course of the new crimes.

But it's ok, because the special squad had authorization to shoot first (from behind). It wasn't legal, but who watches the guardians? The shoots were declared "good" by the LAPD, so it must have been needful.

And the Gov't is only here to help.

#190 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Putting this to bed, I hope.

John Mill, #137, claims that the courts agree with the radical pro-gun stance on the Second Amendment. Historically, the Supreme Court has not agreed, see for instance Presser v. Illinois (1886) and U.S. v. Miller (1939). There has been a recent lower court decision that does accept the radical position, and we may see a new Supreme Court ruling. Given the willingness of the Roberts Court to ignore expert opinions and stare decisis to get the conclusions it desires it is possible that position will become law. As I've said above, that would significantly harm the already battered integrity and honesty of the Court. A court that will rule arbitrarily is a friend only of Influence, not of Right, Rights or Reason.

#191 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 04:12 PM:

Shannon, #180: you raise interesting points, and if this thread weren't moribund, I'd like to address them at length. As it is, a few notes:

If the right to carry concealed was properly limited to non-criminals, the sane, and the people who actually wanted to go to the effort and expense of owning a handgun and training to use it (which I think wouldn't be a very large percentage of the population), I wonder if things would turn out so very badly after all. I used to believe they would, but I have to wonder if someone with a weapon and training might have gotten through to this monster in Virginia in enough time to save at least a few of those poor kids.
I think that makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, if that right was limited to the sane, Cho Sueng Hui would never have gotten his weapons. Those laws already on the books that we keep hearing aren't adequately enforced...aren't.

Also, I've thought for some time now that the police and courts could do a much better job of dealing with stalking behavior, now that it's well understood. There really seems to me every reason to provide people at risk with a guard, and I can only wonder why it is not standard practice.

Ursula L, #184: "My suspicion has always been that since the US and the states at that time were broke, they were trying to figure out how to get an army on the cheap when needed. You save an awful lot of money when you conscript people, call them volunteers (unpaid) and make them buy their own weapons." Only partly. There was genuine idealism as well. But, indeed, the various legislatures were not willing to put governmental money where the governmental mouth was.

Greg London, #186: yes, yes. But after nanite treatment the pig still has to learn to sing I think it can be helpful for people stuck in those obsessive states to hear alternatives, even if they reject them; the ideas are then available should there be a change of heart and it is partly through repetition that alterations in consciousness take place.

Clark Myers, PJ, Terry Kearney: some of the evidence in the Ramparts case has been called into question, though I gather there were still serious abuses.

And that's it for my participation in this thread, unless something extraordinary happens. Whew!

#192 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:27 PM:

190: John Mill, #137, claims that the courts agree with the radical pro-gun stance on the Second Amendment. Historically, the Supreme Court has not agreed, see for instance Presser v. Illinois (1886) and U.S. v. Miller (1939).

Some say otherwise, for an extended discussion see the various opinions in Parker currently in the news. For scripture bashing consider Dredd Scott decided when the Constitution was much younger. This from Wikipedia current date:
The Court also presented a parade of horribles, describing the feared results of granting Mr. Scott's petition:

"It would give to persons of the negro race, …the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, …the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went."

Slaves don't own guns
Free men own guns
therefore
Dredd Scott cannot be a free man. ipso facto.

various #102 will do;
a model 1795 musket manufactured in the Springfield Armory in 1792 cost $10.87,
Also from Wikipedia current date:
In 1794 the new Federal government decided to manufacture its own muskets so that the United States would not be dependent on foreign arms. President Washington selected Springfield as the site for one of the two Federal Armories (the other being the Harpers Ferry Armory at Harpers Ferry), Virginia (now part of West Virginia. Production of weaponry at the Armory began in 1795 when 220 flintlock muskets were produced. emphasis added.

Got you last no touchbacks.


#193 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 05:56 PM:

Clark, I believe you've sufficiently established your unswayable worship at the altar of firearms. You've proven you are a true believer. Nothing can move you. You will never, under any circumstance, disarm. Cold, dead fingers, and all that. You don't have to prove it any more.
We understand.

#194 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Randolph: Miller can be used to support the restriction of hunting arms, but not military arms.

One of the holdings was that, absent evidence to the contrary, no military purpose could be shown for sawed-off shotguns, and so they could be banned.

The interpretation of The Court has been more based on the fact that they've refused to hear all but a handfull of cases, and that silence has allowed the varied rulings of District courts to stand as good law.

#195 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:13 PM:

As a resident of one of the counties where a California CCW permit is effectively impossible to get, in a state (California) where getting a CCW can be quite easy - if you live in the right county/city - I have a Utah carry permit, which I use whenever I am in any state that recognizes it.

I am a firm believer that my carrying a firearm certainly doesn't harm, or threaten, the general public in any way. If anything, and in common with many carriers, I feel more constrained to politeness and avoiding trouble when carrying than when not; I have absolutely no wish to unholster my handgun unless life is threatened.

Hopefully, it will never be necessary to discover whether having it is a good thing or not, as I pray never to be placed in that situation. But, if I am, I hope I will be ready to do what it takes.

I would not be standing in a crowded classroom or mall watching others being mowed down without at least attempting to stop it. I believe most CCW holders feel the same way; anyone with mall ninja tendencies should be discouraged.

As I write this, I have just been looking at an on-line report from a respectable United Kingdom newspaper (the Telegraph). The headline? "Gun Crime Trebles as Weapons and Drugs Flood British Cities." Total gun ban, and only the outlaws (and police) have guns.

#196 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:21 PM:

Terry, #194. You're right, of course. I suspect that the Court, like me, wishes the whole thing would just go away but, no, I suppose we'll be making more bad law.

Clark, #193. Yes, the correct date is 1797. Link. I do suggest following the link; if you like firearms it's a very cool link.

#197 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:44 PM:

John #195: I was saddened to read LJK Setright's column in CAR magazine the month after he was forced by law to surrender his handguns to the government. I knew it was pointless political theatre, and so did he.

However, given the rules in force at the time, it didn't make things worse, it didn't encourage criminals. No law-abiding British pistol owner could carry his gun about and shoot or threaten miscreants with it before the ban.

The recent rise in gun crime in the UK is not caused by a recent shortage of gun-toting folks on the high street. Quite the opposite.

#198 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2007, 08:51 PM:

John @ 195:

Yes, there are papers screaming about the increase in gun crime in the UK. The increases they are talking about led to a total homicide rate (all weapons) for the UK in 2005-2006 of 765 out of a population of 60 million. (That includes the 50+ victims of the 7/2005 UK bombings, BTW.)

That leads to a total homicide rate of about 1.2 per 100,000 population, across the whole country. The US equivalent is over 5 per 100,000, so over 4 times as high.

London has a murder rate of 2.1 per 100,000; that's the huge rise in crime which the papers are ranting about. Some cities in the US have a murder rate of around 40 per 100,000 (Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis.)

All this was found readily with a few minutes Googling.


In fact, some large US cities (NYC, LA, Chicago) see an annual total number of murders more than half the total seen across the entire UK. If you're attributing the differing murder rates between the US and UK to the lack of legal gun ownership in the UK, then you've just blown your pro-gun argument to shreds.

I actually think it's got much more to do with cultural differences, but there would seem to be no easy way to sort that out.

#199 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 08:27 AM:

#194 and others:

Trying to interpret SC rulings on this or any other contentious political issue in terms of logical arguments about the law is pointless--these are fundamentally political appointees whose power depends on the ability to reach whatever conclusion they want to reach, and support it by whatever weak argument or selective quotation of past law/decisions they like. This is why antisodomy laws were constitutional (and it was okay to keep that one guy who appealed to the SC in prison) right up until they decided that they weren't, with no intervening new knowledge or changes in the constitution. It's why the death penalty became cruel and unusual punishment for a few years, and then became acceptable again, also with no change in the constitution. It's why segregated schools were constitutional, then later unconstitutional, and then later the constitution required bussing to fix the racial balance in schools. The SC decision about the ban on sawed-off shotguns could only make sense if citizens were allowed to own bazookas and 50 cal machine guns, but of course nobody followed that logic. It was a political decision that they wanted to continue to have sawed off shotguns illegal.

Trying to make logical arguments about the decisions makes only a bit more sense for the SC than for Congress. The SC is required to produce a justification for its decisions, but it's okay if that justification is weak, because nobody has the power to reject a weak argument. Sometimes, the result is good--breaking Jim Crow was probably the most important moral victory of the last 50 years. Sometimes the result is bad--like deciding that no-trial property seizures in drug cases don't amount to depriving anyone of property without due process of law, or that the state can take your property if the crook they give it to can pay them more in taxes. But in either case, it's not some kind of moral or logical argument happening, just a political process which produces written justifications for their decisions. Should the justices decide that boiling prisoners in oil would be good policy, or that school uniforms are bad and should be abolished, they would find a way to justify that with the constitution.

#200 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:06 PM:

I got into this whole thing about the 1997 UK handgun ban on the Well just last week. Apparently it is a favourite claim of American NRA types that the total ban on handguns in the UK instituted in 1997 is the cause of an increase in gun crime since then.

This claim is false, and it's false for a very straightforward reason: there's no mechanism by which it can be true.

In order for it to be true, there would have to a deterrent effect on crime (street gun crime, burglary, whichever) from private, legal ownership of handguns in the UK prior to the ban in 1997, so the removal of the deterrent led to an increase in crime.

There was no such deterrent effect, for several reasons, any of which would be sufficient:

1) There were less than 60,000 legal handgun permits in the UK prior to the 1997 ban. That amounts to approximately 0.1% of the population. So, nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, a criminal knows that a civilian he robs (at home or on the street) will not be armed with a legal weapon. This risk is so small and other risks in committing crime so much larger as to make it not a factor at all. You might as well worry that a plane will crash on your head while you're robbing someone, it's that small.

2) Prior to the ban, legally-owned handguns were only permitted for sporting or job-related purposes, not self-defense or home defense. And British courts and public opinion look down on the idea of using lethal response against property crimes. In fact, I would be surprised if there were any instances in the last 30 years of someone using a legal handgun against an intruder.

3) Unlike in the US, legally-owned guns in the UK must be securely stored and kept unloaded except at the point of use, usually a range. Carrying a gun in a usable state is a crime. And in my experience, most gun-owners tended to be responsible and law-abiding and certainly not the type to leave their target pistol on the bedside table or pack it while out on the town. So even pre-ban, these handguns were not available for "home defense" because they were in lockboxes and unloaded.

All of these things, by the way, were well-known in Britain, including by burglers and muggers. Most British people will never see a gun, and even if they do, it's most likely to be a shotgun. Handguns were vanishingly rare.

So, given that pre-ban the deterrent effect of private ownership of handguns was already zero, the ban can have had no effect on said non-existent deterrent and therefore any increase in crime cannot be attributed to the ban.

But ah ha! Since gun crime went up, doesn't that mean the ban was ineffective? There are three parts to the answer to that question:

1) Gun crime with legal handguns was almost non-existent pre-ban, so its necessary non-existence after the ban would not be visible in the statistics.

2) Most gun crime before and after the ban was with illegal weapons. Because legal handguns are so rare in Britain, most illegally-held handguns there are presumably shipped from the US, and were not the result of thefts from legal owners even prior to the ban.

3) The ban was not intended to reduce gun crime generally. It was instituted specifically to prevent a recurrence of a situation where the legal owner of a handgun killed 16 primary-school children and their teacher. In that regard, it cannot help but be effective in that no legal handgun owners now exist. Someone crazy enough to kill children may be able to acquire a handgun illegally, but you do what you can.

So there we go. The main lesson from this, by the way, is that analogies from other countries about the effects of gun bans on crime are rarely applicable to the US situation one way or another.

#201 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:27 PM:

I would not be standing in a crowded classroom or mall watching others being mowed down without at least attempting to stop it.

Today the police are reporting that Cho fired 170 rounds in 9 minutes and that he'd chained closed three of the exits from the classroom building. In that situation, what are your chances?

#202 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:27 PM:

> 60,000 legal handgun permits ... will not be armed with a legal weapon

Nitpicking, it means they won't be armed with a legal handgun. Shotguns were also (AIUI) required to be kept unloaded in a locked gun safe if kept at home, so this doesn't really change the argument, but the nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand number changes a bit.

#203 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 04:39 PM:

#200:

Yeah, the added risks of running into a gun-toting victim clearly don't have any meaningful impact in this situation. It would be interesting to know what the effect on risk to a mugger is in US states with shall-issue laws. I mean, if your chances are 1% or 5% of running into an armed victim or bystander, I could imagine this having a serious impact. (Though that impact might be to dissuade mugging, or might be to convince muggers to shoot at the first sign of trouble.)

Further, if you're a mugger who does this more than a few times, you'll have an intuition for your risks, because you'll know you've mugged 40 people and never seen a gun, you'll know that there are other muggers in the same area and that they haven't been shot, etc.

#204 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2007, 09:33 PM:

#202: yes, I should have said a legal handgun there.

Since we're concerned with the handgun ban we're only interested in the removal of any deterrent effect from legal handguns. Although I'd say that the deterrent effect of legal shotguns and rifles in the UK is near-zero too, as long as you're not burgling the country home of Lord Inbred of Porkminster. Legal shotguns and rifles are more common than handguns were, but still pretty rare and almost non-existent in cities.

#205 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:03 AM:

"Today the police are reporting that Cho fired 170 rounds in 9 minutes and that he'd chained closed three of the exits from the classroom building. In that situation, what are your chances?"

I have no idea what my chances would have been, in either the tactical or the personal sense. I was not there, and I certainly have no idea of how I'd have reacted if I had been.

That said, it has been evident from the start that Cho fired roughly 200 shots. (Thirty were killed, perhaps two dozen more wounded. In an average gunfight a policeman armed with a semiautomatic hits the suspect once per three shots fired [per Ayoob], and one of the surgeons interviewed said he saw no patient with fewer than three gunshot wounds.) This means that even with extended magazines, Cho reloaded his pistols a minimum of eight times, and that in all likelihood, most of the 170 bullets hit a person. Reloading is a two-handed operation that takes at minimum of two seconds, assuming that the shooter is practiced and nothing is fumbled.

A fit person can easily cover twenty feet in two seconds. Therefore, I remain surprised that Cho was not knocked down by someone. That he was not suggests the totality of Cho's emotional coldness: no adrenaline. The entire scene is terrifying, and for me at least, impossible to imagine.

#206 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Albatross @200: The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has issued a detailed report on firearms violence, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review and one of the conclusions therein is that shall-issue CCW laws make no substantial difference in violent crime rates. In other words, the numbers are consistent with your reasoning.

#207 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 02:42 AM:

As I write this, I have just been looking at an on-line report from a respectable United Kingdom newspaper (the Telegraph). The headline? "Gun Crime Trebles as Weapons and Drugs Flood British Cities." Total gun ban, and only the outlaws (and police) have guns.

The Telegraph, btw, is also popularly known as the Torygraph in the UK. Doesn't mean it's not true, just be aware that British papers take ideological stances, and the Telegraph is right wing.

And there's a Labour Government, so the country is going to hell in a handcart of PC, Nanny State, Big Brother and Not Enough Done To Stamp On Crime.

#208 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 06:27 AM:

George Smiley @ #205: This means that even with extended magazines, Cho reloaded his pistols a minimum of eight times, and that in all likelihood, most of the 170 bullets hit a person. Reloading is a two-handed operation that takes at minimum of two seconds, assuming that the shooter is practiced and nothing is fumbled.

A fit person can easily cover twenty feet in two seconds. Therefore, I remain surprised that Cho was not knocked down by someone.

That's assuming that people could figure out that he was reloading within those two seconds (while there was chaos and mayhem around them), and that the rule about 20 feet in two seconds still applies with tables and chairs and possibly casualities in between, and that he didn't do the reloading in the corridors, and so on.

#209 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:48 AM:

#208 Raphael:

The other thing to note here is that mass shootings are rare, but they do happen. And while sometimes someone intervenes and saves the day, it seems like most of the time, nobody does until the cops get there or the shooter uses the last bullet on himself. This implies that there must be something going on that makes this difficult.

This was what annoyed me about the Derb comment. He's normally somewhat interested in hard data--here's hard data, right? It does seem at first glance like a mass shooter should be stopped by a rush of people who would rather be heroes than victims, but that doesn't seem to happen, and there are enough cases that this probably isn't just because the mass shootings always happen around an unlikely accumulation of helpless sheep.

Some people with experience in this have chimed in--commenting that it takes a lot of work and training to *not* freeze up in a life-threatening crisis, that even military training doesn't ensure this, etc. Along with that, there's all kinds of interesting experimental psychology research, showing that most people will ignore apparent impending danger if those around them do. There's the tendency for each person in a group to see something that obviously needs doing (like go call the cops and tell them that some lady's being murdered), and just silently assume someone else will do it.

Along with that, adrenaline has an interesting effect on people--it makes them kind of stupid, makes it hard for them to think through their actions, etc. This has big implications for things like how fire escapes are made, what kind of exit signs and such you need, etc., because it's dangerous to make someone in a panic solve a simple logic puzzle or figure out a complicated locking mechanism. People who are going to have to do something complicated under high stress have to train on it again and again, like pilots do with emergency procedures. (There must be people in this discussion who know a lot more about this.)

#210 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:11 PM:

#205 Thirty were killed, perhaps two dozen more wounded

Some are saying this is a high proportion of fatalities with suggestions for forensic investigation.

For any remnant here with an interest in background discussion Dave Kopel has a recent [April 26, 2007 at 5:58pm] post on The Volokh Conspiracy (obs SF LASFS)

"The Relationship between Guns and Burglary: Do guns in the home deter burglary? Or cause burglary? Or both, in different ways, at different levels? If you'd like to study the topic, here are some on-line starting points.

1. My article Lawyers, Guns, and Burglars, 43 Arizona Law Review 345 (2001) http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/LawyersGunsBurglars.htm , looks at previous national and international research, and argues that the high rate of defensive gun ownership in the U.S. deters home invasion burglary.[excerpted supra - notice that objecting to the form of footnotes in a law review is pretty silly - there are squadrons of sedulous apes justifying their six figure salaries to come putting the footnotes in standard blue book form]

2. In the book Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence (Brookings Institution, 2003), Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig conduct a county-level study of the U.S., and find higher gun ownership rates associated with a small increase in burglary rates. The chapter (as a NBER working paper) is available here http://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/8926.html.

3. In the same book, I have a Comment which questions the Cook/Ludwig conclusion. http://www.davekopel.com/2A/ch/Comment-on-The-Effects-of-Gun-Prevalence-on-Burglary.htm

Although I [Kopel] do not agree with all the policy conclusions in the book, the book does present very interesting research, and among the most sophisticated arguments for gun control to be found anywhere."

#179 Herewith an excerpted citizen's creed -
http://tsra.com/index.php?p=page&id=96

By Finn Aagaard - Biography

I carry my pistol always, whenever the law permits, inside or outside the house; at night it goes under my pillow, where I have slept with one on and off for 45 years. Am I utterly paranoid, do I feel that evil out to get me is lurking everywhere, am I so ruled by fear that I must have my security blanket at all times?

No. To think so would be to completely misunderstand the role of the personal gun in my life. My pistol, combined with some competence in its use, has indeed been a wonderful comfort in a few potentially unpleasant circumstances, and the knowledge I can retain command of my immediate environment does tend to encourage a calm self-confidence in everyday life, while precluding panic in an emergency.
.................

Every right includes commitments, not least the right to bear arms. Anyone who carries a pistol in public has an obligation to society to be reasonably competent with it, able to hit his target - under stress - rather than uninvolved bystanders; he must know and abide by the laws limiting the use of lethal force; he must avoid quarrels and altercations and understand that he will be held to higher standards of restraint and responsibility than an unarmed person. The course of instruction that is rightly required (in addition to background checks) in order to earn a Texas Concealed Handgun License teaches all this, and more, including conflict resolution. Passing a shooting test is mandatory, but the class does not include shooting instruction; you are expected to have arranged for adequate training beforehand. It is a fine course; anybody who intends to go armed ought to take a similar one.

My pistol has aided no evil, it has added not a tittle of gratuitous violence to the world. On the contrary, its presence on my hip or on the Land Rover seat very definitely defused a couple of dangerous situations in the old days in Kenya. More recently, on a dark street, I am convinced the mere suspicion of its presence, engendered by my alert, confident demeanor, averted what could otherwise have been a nasty incident. Colt got it right; a pistol in the hands of a decent, courageous citizen is a convincing peacemaker. My pistol is a positive influence for stability, for decency, for righteousness, for freedom from fear and violence, for all that is right and proper. (If anyone can present a rational argument that factually disproves this statement, I will discard the gun and never carry it again.)
..........
Well worth reading in its entirety as a fine essay and insight.


#211 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Folks have trained with adrenaline injected - IIRC correctly Ayoob among others has done this and written about it with photographs.

Given a single actor it is hard indeed for the group reaction to get inside the OODA loop
From Wikipedia current date:

Since the OODA Loop was designed to describe a single decision maker, the situation is usually much worse than shown as most business and technical decisions have a team of people observing and orienting, each bringing their own cultural traditions, genetics, experience and other information. It is no wonder that it is here that decisions often get stuck and the OODA Loop is reduced to the stuttering sound of “OO-OO-OO” [2]. [1]

Getting stuck does not lead to winning as "In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries--or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop. ... Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries--since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns they are competing against." [3] (John Boyd, "Patterns of Conflict" presentation)

Obs SF Starship Troopers as Juan Rico reflects on the dynamics of 2 on l.

#212 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Clark:

I think in a big group, "orient/observe" is done w.r.t. the group, not as an individual. And there is some tendency to look for "decide" from the group, too.

I wonder about the evolutionary origin of this. Maybe in hunter-gatherer land, there's always someone who qualifies as an alpha male or bossman or something in a group, and so someone who:

a. Has the job of making the decision.

b. Knows it (and knows everyone else expects it)

c. Will get substantial cooperation when he does

Because then this would make sense. Danger appears. Experienced bossman who's good at violence makes decision, gives orders, and everyone does what they're told.

And without a bossman, maybe we all stand there transfixed, waiting for someone to tell us what the hell to do.

The whole image of a group of people getting paralyzed into inaction by one nut makes me think of the thing where the hunter shoots the biggest elephant in the herd, and all the other elephants don't know what to do. Because until very recently, *nothing* could kill the big elephant like that, so there was no good response evolved to having the grandmother elephant suddely drop dead during a standoff with danger. It just didn't come up--the same way we never evolved a good mechanism for handling large pressure changes when flying in a jet.

#213 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 05:27 PM:

This is one good thing about having psychopaths and sociopaths around. They don't care nearly so much what the rest of the group thinks, and aren't doing nearly as much of the whole 'standing around waiting for the group to reach a consensus' thing. Actually, maybe it's less 'not caring' and more 'not being able to sense the uncollapsed social waveform'.

#214 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 05:45 PM:

George@206CCW laws make no substantial difference in violent crime rates.

That does not surprise me. I think that the thing that the average, generic gunnut just can't get his head around is that life contains a chunk of things that are just completely random and beyond our control.

I think the gunnuts don't like the idea of life being out of control, are probably terrified of it, and cling to their sidearms in desparation, thinking that somehow they'll be able to stave off what is essentially the equivalent of being struck by lightning.

Anyone who thinks they'll be fully armed and ready to confront and stop every situation is an idiot.


There are scenarios that have no solution. There are, to use the Star Trek term, Kobiyashi Maru's situations, that no matter what you do, you can't win. Crazy insane suicidal lunatics with lots of guns and ammo, on a shooting spree in a public place, is probably one of them. Everyone can do everything right, and people will still die because they happened by chance to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I get the impression from the people I know who have actually been in a lot of combat, that they understand that the fact that they're alive and their buddy died on a firefight has everything to do with complete dumb luck. Both were fully armed. Both were keeping their heads down. But a mortar shell just happened to land six feet to the left, rather than right, and that decided who lived and who died.

Gunnuts almost always never get this.

They are usually the most adamant that they can somehow change the odds in their favor. That they can somehow "outsmart" the random chances. That they really are the Hero of their story, the good guy who will make it to the end and live happily ever after. It's a completely irrational line of thinking. And it's impossible to rationally talk to someone who is thinking totally irrationaly.

#215 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Useful perhaps to distinguish ad hoc group and a team. Dr. Pournelle speculated that a class full of recent veterans in school on the GI bill is more likely to make a team in the face of gunfire. XGI had its own OD gang color before blue and red made the scene.

An ad hoc group is, I suggest, more likely to include members who try free riding as long as possible compared to a family group who share genes - a family group may have a built-in bossman or just a volunteer first to act.

#216 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2007, 09:07 PM:

#214 Greg:

I think your description is accurate, but applies much more widely than gun nuts. I think it's just hard to accept the existence of random crap you can't prepare for, and that this often leads to either coming up with a magical defense (gun as talisman, but there are a *lot* of alternative talismans out there), or somehow editing those random things out of your map of the universe (thus, deciding that somehow the victims of the disaster of the week deserved it).

I enjoyed a book called _Deep Survival_, which discussed various survival stories. The author was a bit too in love with his assumptions, and short on hard data, for my taste, but he described a lot of really fascinating things. One point he made was that you just have to accept that sometimes, no amount of preparation is enough (the baddest-ass Navy SEAL survivalist imaginable on the top floor of the first WTC tower to collapse was going to die, despite all his abilities and training).

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2007, 09:13 PM:

albatross 216: Not only does it apply more widely than gun nuts...there's someone doing it in the seatbelt thread right now. She "just tries not to think about" where she might land if thrown from the car. She's been driving for 20 years and never died yet, so not wearing a seatbelt must be OK.

Gods, I hope she hasn't bred.

#218 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 11:58 AM:

I've been following this thread for a while, and decided to make a comment.

Xopher and Albatross - Consider the seat belt example. The probability of being in an accident is low, but the consequences are high, and so we wear seatbelts. However, wearing a seatbelt is not a 100% guarantee of survival. It just improves the odds.

At least some people who carry guns (Ayboob and Aagaard, above, for example) make a rational calculation as follows. There is a low probability that they will need to use a gun. And even with a gun, there is a probability that it won't help. In the end, they make a calculation that having a gun gives them more options and increases their overall chances of survival.

#219 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 12:18 PM:

#216 no amount of preparation is enough (the baddest-ass Navy SEAL survivalist imaginable on the top floor of the first WTC tower to collapse was going to die, despite all his abilities and training).

Actually he was on the 44th floor of the 2nd; - but personal survival was not what he prepared for:
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady

214 Gunnuts almost always never get this. Jeff Cooper tells of climbing down a cargo net when wave action shoved his assigned landing craft away - Cooper took the next one. The one he barely missed took a hit the one he caught didn't. Yet Jeff Cooper is the gun nut's gun nut.

#220 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Chris@218: Consider the seat belt example.

Consider that seatbelts don't kill innocent bystanders because the idiot handling them didnt know what the hell he was doing. Consider that seatbelts don't get taken away from you and used to kill you on a regular basis. And most importantly, consider that most every idiot with an infatuation with firearms thinks they are the exception to the rule.

Clark@219: Gunnuts almost always never get this. ... Jeff Cooper is the gun nut's gun nut.


Wow. consider, once again, that most idiots think they are the exception to the rule. Consider that most knuckleheads think that since one persion beat the odds that it proves some kind of pattern that must apply to them.

Consider, that I said life contains some random crap that is beyond our control and that most gunnuts dont get this, and in response, you give me one guy you claim is outside the bell curve as if it proves the rest of the 99% must "get it" too. Consider that one example does not make a trend.

Consider, for just the briefest of moments, that your belief in guns is little different than someone who believes the world is flat and God put us at the center of the universe.

But whatever you do, just stop trying to preach the gunnut koolaid to me. I used to hand it out. I know what it tastes like.

You're trying to sell a used car to a former used car saleman. And I ain't buying what you have to sell.

#221 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Greg, Chris, Clark:

I see this as basically about certain dangerous but potentially useful emergency equipment. Guns are useful in specific emergency situations. They are also inherently dangerous, since (unlike almost any other tool) they're optimized for killing people. You can kill yourself or a friend by screwing around with a chainsaw, but the chainsaw is designed, as much as possible, not to be something that kills people. A gun is designed to kill people--a gun you carry for self-defense is likely to be reasonably large caliber and be loaded with hollowpoints, to improve the chance that anyone you shoot in the torso will die right away.

I don't want to see responsible adults deprived access to guns. But I do suspect that many people have this weird magical notion of the powers of a gun, probably based on movies and books and TV shows they've seen all their lives, and also on some kind of psychological need for a security blanket. This is security theater done for your own benefit, like the way children will convince themselves that the monsters under the bed won't get them in the night.

#222 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2007, 12:10 PM:

albatross, I'm not saying we should disarm the populace. And I understand the idea of guns as tool similar in nature to a chainsaw: potententially useful, potentially dangerous.

I'm saying that there is a species of gun owner who presents themselves as if their arsenal is a completely rational decision. They'll quote statistics, they'll present all manner of arguments.

But the thing of it is, they will never change their mind. A neutral approach to the evidence means that if the evidence says guns are more harm than good, then a neutral person would either disarm or at least reduce their weapon collection, and so on.

You may observe in this thread certain individuals who are pro-gun first, and "evidence" second. No amount of statistics or logic or anything else will change their position. And their use of statistics and logical arguments and so on are simply to sandbag and shore up their positions.

So, while I understand the "gun-is-a-tool" thing, that's looking at evidence and reaching a conclusion, which is different than the folks who ahve reached a conclusion and look for evidence to support it.

And I was pointing out the existence of this species of gun owner, who presents themselves as if they follow the evidence, but the truth is they will never change their mind. They will change their evidence to keep their guns.

#224 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Niall, #197

My point isn't so much that the gun ban took lawful guns off the street, it was that DESPITE the total gun ban, criminals still have no difficulty getting guns - on an island surrounded by deep. cold water and customs officers determined not to let so much as a contraband bottle of Beaujolais ashore.

GUN BANS ONLY DETER LAW ABIDING CITIZENS.

And yes, I do know my England. Lived there over 40 years, some of it with a rifle.

#225 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 02:34 PM:

Niall, #197

My point isn't so much that the gun ban took lawful guns off the street, it was that DESPITE the total gun ban, criminals still have no difficulty getting guns - on an island surrounded by deep. cold water and custome officers determined not to let so much as a contraband bottle of Beaujolais ashore.

GUN BANS ONLY DETER LAW ABIDING CITIZENS.

And yes, I do know my England. Lived there over 40 years, some of it with a rifle.

#226 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Sorry for my last accidental double post.

#223 Greg London

And people who want to ban guns don't have a similar mindset?

I can't even discuss this topic with some of my relatives. They insist that the DOJ website has deliberately false statistics (in favor of guns) because they KNOW that the Brady Center wouldn't lie. They KNOW guns are bad, and don't believe anything that says otherwise. And yet, at least one of these has an "Armed Security Patrol" sign outside their house. Go figure.

#227 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 02:56 PM:

And people who want to ban guns don't have a similar mindset?

The mindset I was pointing to was the rather naive notion that if you just hand out weapons to everyone walking down the street, that you'd solve the problem of violent crime and crazy shooters like the one at Virginia Tech. That's what the story behind the link was talking about: people giving away guns.

It's amazingly naive and dangerous.

Are there some people who are adamantly against firearms who have similarly naive opinions? Irrelevant. Handing out guns like they were candy is dangerous and stupid.

#228 ::: dale ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2007, 01:38 AM:

I have lived in wisconsin all my life. I grew up with hunting and hunting stories about my grandfathers, dad, uncles etc. Other family memebers were soliders and fought in wars. We had guns in the house but the hand gun was hid away. We where taught responsible use of weapons. Never were allowed to play guns to kill people, though we pretend anyhow. We hurt each other more with handmade swords and bows than anything else. I know there are proper uses for guns just like most everything else we can buy. I have never been hurt by anyone using a gun but I have nearly die after being hit by a car. If you don't have a use for a gun don't get one. Like old jarhead said if you are not going to practise then don't get one either. I thank God that that one person did not breakin that one night because I was able to load a 12gauge and call 911 within a few short minutes. Funny how training takes over in times of crisis. I would ask all those who have no use for a gun what kinda world would they expect if they could pass all the rules about gun control they wanted. How would they inforce those rules? Recently I read how the chinese government could not stop illegal gun making. Do you think the US governement would do any better than they do with drugs, prostitution, etc? If we could magically make all the guns go away do you think people would be less violent?

#229 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2007, 10:21 AM:

"Do you think the US government would do any better than they do with drugs, prostitution, etc?"

This is in fact the best argument against increased gun control: the fact that, as Jim Henley points out, American society needs another gigantic arena of prohibition and black markets like it needs a hole in the head.

#230 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 01:48 AM:

Moved from the Go Bag thread

#75 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Other man-portable items worth considering, for a "worst case" preparedness plan:

Knives
Several good utility or hunting knives can make a world of difference, even in an urban setting. Gerber and Leatherman make excellent, foldable utility and all-purpose knives, as do several other companies. And of course, there is always the classic "Swiss" pocket knife, which comes in a dizzying assortment. Just make sure the knife is of high-quality, stainless metal. A cheap knife that breaks or rusts in moist conditions will be next to worthless.

Hatchets, hand axes, and axes
Whether you're carving yourself a place in the hills, or carving your way through a destroyed suburb, the ability to split wood is going to be vital. Get through fallen housing or doors to reach trapped people. Liberate firewood from a crushed duplex. And in a pinch, an axe wielded with a firm warning can scare off looters or other people come to do no good.

Firearms
Speaking of looters, nobody likes to think about it, but what happens if the looters come to you demanding your rations or other supplies? What if they won't take 'no' for an answer? Hungry and cold people can be desperate, and for every household that plans for the worst, there are plenty that do not. And unless you've bought loads of "extra" and are willing to share same, what can you do?

Defend yourself, your family, and your belongings.

handguns, unless very high-powered, aren't much good. By the time the mob closes to handgun range, it's probably too late. A couple of deer rifles, a couple of shotguns, these will be effective. Myself? I'd throw in a couple of AR15/M16 rifles, too. While the deer rifle can actually be used for deer or livestock, the AR15/M16 has greater magazine capacity, lighter ammunition, and in the hands of a trained marksperson, can fell a crowd of bad guys in seconds.

Hate the idea of shooting to kill? At least have shotguns with rock salt or bird shot. Even the appearance of a weapon in your hands will be enough to ward off 96% of anyone desperate or dumb enough to show up and make demands of any sort.

Again, hard to think about, but preparedness is one of those asymptotic things, where you are forever striving to be fully prepared; but can you actually every be prepared enough??

#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:15 PM:

We aren't talking about last-ditch survival-of-the-fittest worst-case scenarios here.

Nor am I talking about blazing a trail across the Appalachians and homesteading in the woods.

I'm talking about going to the shelter when the river rises or a chlorine train derails, or getting back to the apartment when there's a blackout and the subways aren't running.

Hate to say it, but if I were in a survival situation and someone handed me an M-16, I'd break it over a rock and leave it there. Worthless waste of time, weight, and space.

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:44 PM:

PRV, I don't know what kind of general emergencies you've actually weathered, but in the last few I've gone through, hand axes and firearms would have been perfectly useless and a burden besides. We could maybe have used a Gerber knife to cut up the oranges our walking party shared during the last NYC blackout, but it would have been overkill.

Have you noticed how light Jim's kit is? People will carry a go bag that weighs a pound, which is his target weight, and it won't be a burden on them during an evacuation. Exhaustion is a much bigger threat than human violence.

When I was growing up, one of the scenarios I worried about was a general emergency bad enough to convince the survivalist yahoos that the law of the jungle was now in force. At that point, all the country within 100-150 miles of town would have filled up with heavily armed idiots popping away at each other and the local livestock. It would have taken months to round them up, and in the meantime they'd be getting into all kinds of mischief: the last thing the overstressed social infrastructure needed to be dealing with right then.

You're a lot likelier to survive by helping your neighbors and letting them help you than you are by waving weapons at people.

#85 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Hey, sometimes zombie apocalypses happen.

(grin)

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Teresa, no, PRV is right. I'm getting those adamantium claws installed tomorrow!

#87 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 05:54 PM:

re: zombie apocalypse

Google tells me that 38,300 people use "zompocalypse," while only 516 prefer "zombocalypse." I think I'm going to have to go with the majority on this one; it rolls off the tongue much better, and there really aren't so many zom- words that you risk confusion with some other sort of apocalypse.

Just, y'know, in case anyone was wondering.

#88 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:03 PM:

One other thought...

Virtually any significant item, when carried on a lengthy walk or hike, is going to seem like a 'pointless burden'.

Until that narrow-chance circumstance when the item in question suddenly becomes vital.

Like I said, emergency preparedness is asymptotic.

Sure, you will probably never need a hand axe.

But the one time you do, you'll be damned glad if you have it.

#89 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Why, the same is true of a big rock! I've used one of those a lot oftener than I've had use for a gun or a hand axe.

#90 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:12 PM:

CRV, I think the difference is that this go-bag is for power outages, ten-second emergency evacuations, et cetera. I expect to move to somewhere that will have hand axes, and my pack only has to get me there. There's a different bag for stronger situations.
I'll make one of these for "ice storm power outage" more than anything, with the possibility of "oh, crap, there's a tornado headed for the house".

Your asymptotic thing reminds me of my own example-- a hot glue gun. You almost never need a hot glue gun, but when you do, you need a hot glue gun. Nothing else will do.

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:14 PM:

CRV 88 (and sorry about using your old initials before): The same is true of many things. A chainsaw. A bag of ball bearings. A can of shark repellant.

I can come up with scenarios where any of those could save your life. But they don't have a high enough ratio of probable need/weight to merit inclusion. Neither does a hand axe. Neither do firearms.

Of course, if you're very strong, you can draw the total weight line lower on the list (assuming your list is sorted by the above ratio). But pack the hand axe on the top. It will carry better that way, and also it will be easier to throw it away when you're sinking in the flood waters (or whatever), or when exhaustion overtakes even you, superman that you are. :-)

#92 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:14 PM:

True fact, Diatryma.

#93 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Diatryma 90: I need a hot glue gun! I just realized I've needed one for years and just wasn't sure what I needed. But that's it! A hot glue gun will keep me from losing my mind or dying.

Now, to find a battery-operated or hand-cranked hot glue gun and put it in my Go bag...

#94 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:17 PM:

TNH @ #89: The difference being, you can find big rocks all over. They're just laying on the ground, waiting to be picked up. Not so much with more sophisticated tules. (wink)

Diatryma @ #90: Yes, Jim's "Go Bag" is for emergencies of the lightest variety. I suppose nobody was much in mind for my 'Rambo' suggestions. I guess when I think, "Emergency!" I think no power, no water, no cops, no firemen, for days and days.

It should be noted that I've saved Jim's list along with several others I collected from a different on-line source where this precise topic came up. And believe it or not, some of the suggestions from that forum were a helluva lot more 'Rambo' than mine! (he he)

Your glue gun comment is actually quite apt. Often, when you need a tool that specific, you really, really need it, and you will kick yourself 20 times for not having it when you need it.

#95 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:18 PM:

Did I actually write "tules"?

(smacks self)

#96 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:22 PM:

CRV, but that would justify carrying everything you ever use for which there is no substitute! (OK, even you wouldn't suggest including the corn-on-the-cob butter spreader, but hey.)

It's like the seat belt thing. Bet on exhaustion, dehydration, or hypothermia to kill you, and take steps to keep them from doing so. Other scenarios are much less likely. Planning for those scenarios and raising the probability of dying of exhaustion is foolish.

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:24 PM:

CRV 95: Yes, you did. But we know you meant 'tulles'.

#98 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Xopher @ #96: good points.

I guess a small hand axe just doesn't seem like it would be a massive pain. And there have been one or two times in my life when I've very much needed a hatchet or hand axe, and not had one, and kicked myself endlessly for it, because I had hammers and screw drivers and other tools available; just not something that can split or chop through wood, wallboard, or other stuff in a hurry.

#99 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Oh, well, it definitely belongs in your tool box. Just not in the fly-for-your-life bag.

#101 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:33 PM:

One other note: keep in mind that my perspective is somewhat warped by my Army Reserve experience. To me, any "emergency" pack that weighs less than 20 pounds, is probably missing one or more very-important items. And anyone unable to hump a meager 20-pound pack for at least 10 miles, needs to hit the gym!

(remember: warped...)

#102 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:34 PM:

Is anyone else thinking that, when an emergency or evacuation happens, CRV and similarly minded folk will be part of the problem?

In the types of "disasters" that most people will face - power outage, ice storm - short term supplies are about all that is needed. From everyone I know who's been through the bigger types of disasters (such as long term living in a war zone) the support of friends and the kindness of strangers was what keeps people alive.

After that, skill at trade - clothing for cigarettes, cigarettes for food, etc. - was the next tool needed. (Given how much less people smoke these days, I wonder what a good substituted would be for cigarettes when it comes to compact and in-demand trade goods?)

Being seen as dangerous (such as running around with a gun) was more likely to get people to hide and hoard their goods, rather than share or trade with you, since they reasonably feared that you were there to steal, and wouldn't let on even if they had what you needed and could spare it.

You can't accumulate everything you need for long-term survival in hard times, so planning in terms of guarding your stash just leaves you isolated and vulnerable. While your neighbors combine their scraps for stone soup, and have a hot dinner.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:37 PM:

CRV @ 98

I'd think a hammer would go through wallboard right well, since a doorknob will if the door swings open a bit fast and the stop is bad.

(Saw: tungsten-carbide rod saw and a couple of large paper-clips or safety pins. Not as good as if it's in a frame, but it will work. You won't be able to plunge-cut, but it'll cut through bars.)

#105 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:40 PM:

101, Community Radio Vet: I can probably handle a 20-pound pack and walk 10 miles with it.

Of course, it would take me about 10 hours. And I live so far back in the country these days, it's almost 10 miles to the nearest grocery store.

Regarding #84, this is a snippet from what I originally posted to a different forum last week...

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:52 pm,

Network with local church and neighbors as much as possible. Last thing you want during a disaster is to be the stranger on the block. Knowing who your neighbors are, and whether or not they can be trusted and/or relied upon during a true emergency, will go a long way towards ensuring that you and your family make it through OK. Identify the weak links. They're the ones most likely to turn to begging/looting. Keep an additional stash of food or consumables on hand strictly for giveaway. You don't have to immediately become The Roadwarrior if someone comes wanting food. Just make sure that what you give out is not from your family supply. Get in touch with local fire and police and hospital personnel, and have an idea what their disaster plans are; if they have any. Raise disaster awareness on your block. An entire block of prepared families could last for months, even totally cut off from civilization, if everyone is on their game and is willing to work with neighbors.

#107 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:46 PM:

I just think we're (maybe) talking about two different levels of emergency: the sort where you need a little kit of handy items to get you from point A (where the danger or inconvenience is) to point B (the safe place: home or a shelter); and the sort where the streets are blocked with flood debris, or big pieces of buildings, rioting, for more than a day or so. Maybe in an urban, hostile environment, after days without services, and zombies, I might want a weapon too (mind you, it'd be safer for everyone, including me, if I didn't have one). In that situation though, there are so many things you'd really want, that your go bag becomes a go station wagon, it's not the same thing at all as the go bag with a few get-you-to-safety items in it.

During her time in a DP camp in Germany, my grandmother traded cigarettes and homemade potato vodka for various things, including food and a small cast iron frying pan, which now hangs on my kitchen wall. I reckon chocolate and cash would be good trade goods now.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Last I checked, Hormel still sold Calf Brains in Milk Gravy.

This could be a handy trade item for dealing with zombies.

#109 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Question for the group:

In a major disaster, what would your emotional reaction be to....

a) seeing a pot-bellied red-necked, unshaven white guy in a Skoal cap and blue jeans, wandering around the street with a deer rifle in the crook of his arm

b) seeing a clean-shaven, fully-uniformed United States Army Sergeant in field cap or beret, walking purposefully down the street with an AR15 or deer rifle slung, or at the low ready

Is your reaction identical in each scenario?

#110 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 06:58 PM:

Hint: I wouldn't be the guy in the Skoal cap, if that makes people like Ursula feel any better.

#111 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:01 PM:

CRV #109

Here, in rural Australia, guy a) is probably some local farmer guy. I probably do handcrafts with his wife, and had his kid over on the weekend to play with my kid. Guy b) is all kinds of scary.

#112 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:07 PM:

ema @ #111:

Ooooooooookay.

Assume you know neither man at all.

Is B still "all kinds of scary"? Compared to A?

If so, why?

#113 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Question for the group:

In a major disaster, what would your emotional reaction be to....

a) seeing a pot-bellied red-necked, unshaven white guy in a Skoal cap and blue jeans, wandering around the street with a deer rifle in the crook of his arm

b) seeing a clean-shaven, fully-uniformed United States Army Sergeant in field cap or beret, walking purposefully down the street with an AR15 or deer rifle slung, or at the low ready

Is your reaction identical in each scenario?

In both cases, hide until the person goes away. Particularly in times of social stress. Men with guns are not to be trusted.

#114 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:12 PM:

US military presence in my tiny town? Where is the Australian Army?

#115 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Ursula, that is a fascinating response.

Why are men with guns not to be trusted? Do you feel the same way about city or state police officers? What about female National Guard or state patrol?

#116 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:17 PM:

ema,

We would assume in your case, of course, that the Sergeant in question is wearing Australian military kit and his chevrons point down instead of up.

#117 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:18 PM:

ema 111: Yeah, guy b) would be all kinds of scary in Australia! I'd find an Australian soldier in analogous condition pretty scary in a US city too.

CRV 109: It would depend on what kind of disaster it was, and on my read of both men. "Wandering around the street" is scarier than "walking purposefully down the street" in a natural-disaster scenario, especially if the wandering is unsteady (implying intoxication).

But if the disaster is that a military coup has been staged and the US is under martial law, guy b) is much, much scarier. Even if guy a) is drunk.

So much depends on context. In a natural-disaster scenario, I'd probably be relatively glad to see the soldier, though I'd certainly wonder why he was alone. Good way for a looter to dress to avert suspicion, after all

#118 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Seconding Ursula - anyone with a visible, obviously ready-to-use gun is not anyone I want to meet in a situation of social unrest. (Men or otherwise, although men get extra scary points.)

The uniform is NOT reassuring - do you know how many batshitinsane people I've met that have access to army surplus stores and guns? (Hint: I live in Texas)

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Ursula 113: Men with guns are not to be trusted.

I might even say "Men are not to be trusted with guns." Neither are women, but their behavior is a lot less hormone-driven than men's, especially when it comes to violence.

#120 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Why are men with guns not to be trusted? Do you feel the same way about city or state police officers? What about female National Guard or state patrol?

In general, as a civilian, active military in your area is going to be a threat. First, because you have the full range of humans (good and bad) but they're definitely armed. And also because there is the sense that a soldier has that they're justified to use their weapons. Perhaps even ordered to. And if they think that "just following orders" is any type of excuse - forget it. There isn't much that's scarier.

In times of social stress, I'd hide if possible from anyone armed. Men are more troublesome in the way that men are always a greater threat to a woman - greater odds of rape than from an armed woman, etc.

In general, I'm not going to trust anyone willing to enter the US armed forces. (Or other armed forces with similar understandings of "orders" versus human morality.) If you're willing to subordinate your own morality and duty of humanity to military orders, then I'm not going to trust you to act humanely if I don't already know and approve of your orders.

If someone is willing to do something without knowing the reason, whether that reason is moral, and whether what they are being asked to do is a moral means to a moral ends, then they can't be trusted.

#121 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:24 PM:

CRV at 109, your post is -- sorry -- silly. The answer is: it depends on the situation. If the situation is one that doesn't call for weapons, then seeing a uniformed man with a gun is not going to make me feel any safer than seeing a man not in a uniform with a gun. And your choice of stereotypes makes me crazy. Deerhunter, anybody? Cue the dueling banjos. How about if your guy with the Skoal cap exchanges it for a Sikh turban (there's a big Sikh community in my town) am I supposed to be more or less scared?

Why don't you just say what you want to say, and let us respond to it, instead of attempting a not very useful version of the Socratic method.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:26 PM:

Ursula 120: Well, I don't agree with everything you say, but certainly military on the streets is a sign that things are bad, and keeping out of the way of the military—even avoiding their notice—strikes me as entirely reasonable.

#123 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Xopher,

I am asking these questions, mostly because of what happened with Katrina. Governor Blanco eventually sent General Honore in with the Guard, and the response all around was, for the most part, quite positive. The sight of uniformed, usually armed Army troops patrolling and restoring order did much to asuage fears and the feeling that they had been abandoned.

For myself, as an NCO in the USAR, it has always been a foregone conclusion in my mind that if a huge disaster hit, and I was at home, the first thing I'd do (assuming I was whole and in one piece) was put my uniform on and, after making sure my wife and daughter were OK, get out on the block and see what was going on, see who needed help, see what needed to be done, beyond simply making sure my own home was in order.

Again, merely seeing a uniformed servicemember can and has afforded people a good amount of psychological benefit, during a disaster. When the neighborhood has the idea that a government officer (of any description) is "on the job", much good can come of it.

Yet Ursula's response gives me pause. Would people be frightened? Angered? I've always assumed that most people would appreciate it, whether I was armed or not. Lord knows I'd be happy if anyone in my neighborhood, be he a cop, fireman, park ranger, whatever, came knocking on doors and took a quick census of problems or situations in each house.

One person, deciding to act and be a focal point for direction or flow of information, could radically alter the situation for the immediate neighborhood.

As a Soldier, in a major disaster, carrying a weapon would be largely a formality; a sign to anyone that with order and organization, comes the force to protect that order and organization.

#124 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:27 PM:

111# I agree with Ema ... that's my neighbor with the skoal cap. I'd likely ask him if he'd seen any trouble around and offer him a beverage in exchange for news and gossip about the disaster at hand.

The guy in the army uniform's an outsider, likely to tell me to do things I don't particularly want to do, possibly at the point of a gun.

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:34 PM:

CRV 123: But you said at the low-ready! That's anticipating needing to shoot on fairly short notice, nicht wahr? Doesn't sound like a formality to me. Slung, maybe.

And if you put on your uniform in my neighborhood, if I knew who you were, I'd assume you were trying to grab authority, and distrust your purpose in doing so.

Leva 124: What if you'd never seen the guy in the Skoal cap before, and the guy in the uniform was your neighbor, whose kids play with yours (if you have any)?

#127 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:34 PM:

I'm with Ursula on this basically - hide first. Xopher's comment @117 is also relevant.

In the UK, seeing a policeman (no gun) would be reassuring. Seeing a policeman with a gun is worrying. Seeing a soldier on the street, armed would not indicate a good situation. And I don't want to meet the first guy either.

#128 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Side note: obviously those with an inherent or visceral distrust of the military or military personnel are never, ever going to like seeing anyone in a military uniform anywhere near their homes or their families.

#129 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:37 PM:

CRV:

People with guns, whether or not they are in uniform, may want to impose their will on you using the business end of said guns.

This goes quadruple if there has been a temporary breakdown of law and order. And don't try and tell me that a soldier will somehow be more ethical or less desperate after he or she has missed the oft-quoted three meals which stand between civilisation and anarchy. Individual soldiers might well be paragons of virtue, but anyone walking about with a thumping great firearm is a potential danger. Guns do not inspire trust; indeed, for those of us who do not see them day-to-day, they inspire suspicion and heightened caution. Even when wielded by authority figures.

So, unless I knew the person in question, I'd be with ema and Ursula.

Also, bear in mind that US soldiers on our streets would constitute an invasion. And if the government called out the Australian Army, I'd head for the bush as quickly as my Barina would carry me.

#130 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:40 PM:

CRV 128: True, but even those of us without that distrust are finding your scenario lacking in nuance. It really matters what kind of problem is happening. Under normal circumstances (that is, no disaster or social breakdown), I'd call the police if I saw any armed person other than a cop on my street.

If the social order collapsed utterly, I would hide from ANY armed person, including a cop.

Everything else is somewhere in between.

#131 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:40 PM:

And if you put on your uniform in my neighborhood, if I knew who you were, I'd assume you were trying to grab authority, and distrust your purpose in doing so. -- Xopher

What if you knew me, and you knew me to be someone who goes out of his way to avoid being "in charge" because he knows intimately that being "in charge" is simply a whole mess of headaches and pains-in-the-ass?

(grin)

Me, I'd just as soon stay home with my wife and child.

But if a big disaster hits, and there is no organization on my block, and the cops and firemen and utilities are nowhere to be found, by the end of that first day, I'd feel duty-bound, as a Soldier and NCO, to at least put on the ACU and the beret and go out and check up on people, see what people knew, what assistance they needed, etc.

Part of being Reserve means that the uniform never really comes off. Not really.

#132 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:42 PM:

@112 and following -

If it's a disaster situation, I don't want to see anybody packing heat.

Not civillians, not self-styled militia types, and especially not lawful authorities.

(When the authorities are openly carrying firearms in the street, this is an indicator that their superiors believe they have lost, are losing, or have the potential to lose control of the situation; in other words, they are looking for someone or something to take charge of. I do not want to be that someone.)

#133 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:42 PM:

This is all utterly fascinating. Keep up the responses.

#134 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:43 PM:

I have a number of friends and coworkers in various branches of the military, and my dad was a Marine (reserves, never got called up to Vietnam, but a Marine nonetheless.) It has nothing to do with "an inherent or visceral distrust of the military or military personnel," it's a distrust of men with guns. Period, full stop. Of course, (name notwithstanding) I am female, and perhaps have more to fear from men with the ability to force me to do things at gunpoint.

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:44 PM:

CRV, if I knew you that well, and had reason to trust you, the uniform would just make me think you were being silly. "Go home," I'd say, "and put on your oldest clothes. We got a lot of mud to move here"—or whatever—"and that nice uniform is gonna get trashed."

Or maybe I wouldn't. But I wouldn't think "Oh, good, the Army has people here" either. I'd think "Why did my buddy CRV put on his monkey suit?"

#136 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Truthfully, I was being a bit of a smartarse, but really this isn't a scenario I can respond to in any sensible way: the stereotypes don't translate very well to Australian culture, and there are a lot of variables. I live in the country, in a country that doesn't have any real gun culture. Farmers have guns to shoot vermin, and less often to hunt. I can't imagine a situation where anyone would be wandering around with a gun, especially here in town. We're too far away from anywhere for there to be armed looters. There's no large dangerous animals, although I suppose its possible that feral dogs might be a problem. If the army are here, why, as was asked above, is he alone? Why isn't he getting busy with sandbags, or the bushfire brigade, or co-ordinating relief efforts?

#143 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:00 PM:

CRV, if the situation requires men with guns, (i.e. there are people trying to break into my house) and I hear from my emergency radio that the guys from the Marine barracks down the street are going to be showing up in my neighborhood, I will probably be happy to see them. But a lone man in an Army uniform with a gun could be a crazy, or could be someone with an authoritarian personality and an overactive imagination attempting to "take charge" of a situation that doesn't need to be taken charge of. If you came down my street in your uniform you would not reassure me. I've been in emergency situations -- San Francisco earthquake 1989 -- and we didn't the army, we needed the fire brigade, the EMTs, and a lot of volunteers willing to risk their lives pulling people out of buildings. We needed people to direct traffic. We needed people to get oxygen and medicine and food for old people. Guns? Shit, no.

#152 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:10 PM:

CRV, then in that case, you wouldn't (or shouldn't) have been carrying a gun. Had your scenario been about the reaction of people to someone in a uniform, but not visibly armed, in a disaster scenario, responses would probably have been somewhat different.

(Although maybe not much - I see half a dozen folks in camo, I think "Oh, soldiers." I see just one guy in camo, I think "oh, nutcase.")

#156 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:32 PM:

CRV - In the overwhelming majority of emergency situations, there are an astonishingly large number of useful things an individual can accomplish which require neither a badge/uniform nor a weapon. The number of useful things that do require a uniform and/or firearm, while not vanishingly minute, is significantly smaller than the former.

I don't care what you're wearing, so long as you're doing something useful. But the circumstances under which you (or anyone else) walking up my street with a firearm would be considered useful are very small and remote indeed - and significantly smaller than the circumstances under which the hypothetical firearm-bearing pedestrian would represent a case of, at best, "Oh shit, this is worse than I thought."

#157 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 08:33 PM:

The problem with a man with a gun, is that I don't argue with a man with a gun.

I'll say it a different way: it's stupid to argue with a man with a gun. The whole point of an officer* having a gun is that they can make people do whatever they want on pain of death. Illegal, immoral, obscene? Hmm. Do I want to die, or not? Who watches the watchers?**

Uniforms aren't necessarily helpful. A uniform as identification is difficult to authenticate, particularly when the rule of law seems not to apply. (Does memorizing a badge number matter if you won't see a working legal system for two weeks? If you are dead?)

Behavior is helpful: a man with a gun who's body language is not that of a predator or a martinet I'll regard with guarded optimism. And I will watch them carefully, and agree to do what they say, for as long as it takes for me to get away from them. A holstered sidearm is better than a slung rifle. A held rifle or other long gun is much worse than a slung rifle. And so on.

A civilian with a gun is marginally more dangerous, though I'd at least expect the man in the Skoal hat to be unused to shooting people. If he's holding the gun in the manner that I've seen safety trained hunters do when they are walking, I'd be pretty happy.

Any disaster situation where people are holding weapons at the ready is one that I want to flee from. I don't know if prudence (= staying still and not drawing attention) would win out over the desire to run.

*generic sense: uniformed official, be they police, military, or three letter agency.
**Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? See Plato, et al., specifically:
that "They will guard themselves against themselves. We must tell the guardians a noble lie. The noble lie will inform them that they are better than those they serve and it is therefore their responsibility to guard and protect those lesser than themselves. We will instill in them a distaste for power or privilege, they will rule because they believe it right, not because they desire it."
Under what circumstances will people not believe the noble lie?

#160 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:02 PM:

My reaction to Some Dude with a deer rifle in my neighborhood: (1.) If he seems sane and responsible, he's about to get into terrible trouble. (And why is he carrying a deer rifle at all? That's just loony.) He doesn't sound like the kind of guy who has a NY carry permit, and the legal penalties for screwing up while in possession of an illegal gun are fairly harsh. Someone should warn him. (2.) If he doesn't seem sane and responsible, lock the doors and go wait in the basement until he's gone.

My reaction to a guy in uniform carrying an automatic rifle in my neighborhood: Criminently Christmas, what idiot put Rudy in charge?

In both cases, I'd have to wonder what the point was of carrying a long gun on a Brooklyn street. I can't think of any situation short of a blitzkrieg invasion via interdimensional portal where that would be an appropriate tool.

#161 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Hey, sometimes blitzkrieg invasions via interdimensional portal happen.

(grin!)

#162 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:16 PM:

I was rather... ah... amused, when I watched Spielberg's War of the Worlds. Remember the scene where Tom Cruise and his family reach the ferry station and the place is, to say the least, extremely crowded? I found it hard to believe that Cruise was the only person around with any kind of firearm, almost as hard to believe as the fact that, until he got picked up by a tripod, nobody, not even one professional soldier, had thought of blowing things up from inside the machine's forcefield.

#164 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 09:36 PM:

I can not think of any scenario where our Canadian military would be deployed on our own soil unannounced and armed and alone. They work in teams and for disaster relief they need their hands free to be useful. Civilian with a gun well if conditions are settled enough for him to be wandering around doing diddly squat then the normal police are not that hard to find either and let them take care of it.

#166 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:02 PM:

In the 'breakdown of civil order' fantasy 28 days later, the guys in uniform with guns were not the good guys.

In my 'go bag', I'm carrying a few hours of water, some granola bars at least and usually a couple of sandwiches, a couple of days of reading (usually) and some supplemental clothing. But if you're carrying it around all the time, I don't think it counts as a 'go bag'.

#167 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:03 PM:

midori 157: Plato's concept of a 'noble lie' is corrupt and evil. Plato's whole Republic...well, I'm with Russell on that.

#169 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 10:10 PM:

CRV --

I'm with most of the others here -- the sight of a Man in Uniform is not automatically reassuring. This is especially true if he's carrying an inappropriate firearm (deer rifle for a soldier; assault rifle for a cop, etc.)

It's been a *long* time since any disaster in the US (the 1968 riots?) has resulted in enough trouble to make guns on the street something other that Scary Bad News. Even in Katrina (a "perfect storm" of official incompetence if there ever was one), every story I've heard that involved guns would have been better without the guns.

BTW, in my neighborhood, what would *you* do if the guy across the street came out in *his* uniform (light colonel, US Army, active) and said "Come with me, soldier"? He probably wouldn't be thinking about your family ...

#175 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:18 PM:

By the way, CRV, don't feel that your desire to be of service to your community isn't valued and appreciated. It is. But I suggest you reconsider the usefulness of the uniform and firearm in an emergency situation. Your training and ability to keep a cool head will be of great value. I don't think the uniform & gun add anything to the emergency situation, and there's a good chance their appearance could put you and others in danger. (Frex, what happens if the crazy down the street sees you with your uniform and gun and figures it's time for him to go get his?)

#176 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:29 PM:

#157, #167: FWIW, the translation of the Republic I read (Lee, 1955) considered "noble lie" to be a mistranslation. Plato is describing an ideal version of a Greek city-state, & every Greek city-state had its foundation myth, which is what the phrase refers to.

#178 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2007, 11:41 PM:

An "area control device" is a shotgun. And yes, it might be useful to me in the event of civil unrest. I already have to deal with the odd person-with-a-gun driving up and down my road; usually a hunter, or a group of the border militia freaks, or occasionally a drug smuggler. Did I mention that I live 40 miles from the Mexican border, and that the end of my road is the trail head for one of the oldest cross-border foot trails?

On the other hand, my neighbors have plenty of guns, and I know them pretty well.

#183 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:52 AM:

I thought it was unConstitutional for the US military to deployed against US civilians within the US borders? Excluding the National Guard which should be under the control of the governors. Besides, frankly, I can't tell one uniform from another (except for the Marines, but that's only because my sister was one), and with all the rumors I keep hearing about how Blackwater was called in after Katrina I would have no way to tell if that solider in the street was really US military or a 'private contractor'. And if law and order had broken down that far I wouldn't be trusting anyone I didn't know personally.

Now, a solider without a gun, or maybe only a holstered handgun, I might trust that person if he's with a group and looks non-crazy.

#186 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Of course, deer rifles are childs play.

The true disaster survivalist will own a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

(wink)

#188 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:30 AM:

I picked fights on this thread??

(shrugs)

#189 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:54 AM:

Lizzy said, earlier, "Why don't you just say what you want to say, and let us respond to it, instead of attempting a not very useful version of the Socratic method." Echoing that: Please, leading hypothetical situations meant to trick/trap/ephiphanize the dissenter into agreeing with the oh-so-enlightened one, they just aren't useful. They come across as disingenuous and manipulative, and, as someone else pointed out, the hypothetical situation is usually constructed in a nuance-free, arbitrary way that disinclines people from engaging with it. I mean, it's not like we can't see the intended trap in the hypothetical. Not playing that game. Just, not.

But the thing that really made me go Ick? "Go on, I find your answers fascinating." Ugh. Someone I knew in college used to pull that line out whenever our arguments stopped being friendly. The condescension that it dripped with was deliberate. The message was very clear: You little naive, irrational person; how fascinating, the way you get everything wrong. How entertaining, the innovative ways with which you try to deny my God-like rightness. Go on, keep amusing me.

Struck me exactly the same way here, I'm sorry to say.

In another thread on another blog, I encountered some guy going on about how "as any woman who's ever been stalked or anyone who survived Katrina can tell you, a gun is the best form of emergency preparedness." Being both a woman who has been stalked (not, thankfully, for very long or by someone very good at it) and being from New Orleans, I wanted to grab him and say "Stop using me as your strawman!" In every way possible, guns made post-Katrina chaos worse. That includes the guns wielded by the cops. Bridge to Gretna, anyone? The alleged "snipers" shot dead on the overpass? Emergency preparedness my ass.

#190 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:58 AM:

"Mascot," that should have been. "Stop using me as your mascot! I am not your mascot!" Or maybe "poster girl."

Sorry. Yes, I do know the meaning of "strawman." Sometimes the wrong word jumps to the fingers first.

#191 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:17 AM:

Nicole, I am sorry you had a bad experience with the phrase, "Go on, I find your answers fascinating."

For whatever it's worth, I wrote them here in honesty. The responses I have gotten on this thread have been fascinating, at least to me.

I'd always assumed people would welcome a uniformed servicemember being proactive in a disaster or emergency situation; especially one who is armed. The responses on this thread give me pause in this assumption.

I'd probably be smart to chat up my old Sergeant Major, ask him what he thinks is the best course of action for me to take as a Reservist. He is a WA State Highway Patrolman in the civilian world, and should be able to tell me what's realistically (and lawfully) expected of me, as an NCO of the USAR, if disaster strikes.

#192 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Well, CRV, you did ask everyone to respond to a fantastic scenario featuring yourself (uncredited at first) in a leading role. That's not picking a fight precisely, but it does tend to make the conversation All About You, which is not strictly friendly either.

I enjoy the occasional What If Everything Hit the Fan fantasy as much as the next guy, but in this case, I was a lot more interested in the tic-tacs.

#193 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:18 AM:

CRV at 188 -- my two cents: I don't think you picked a fight on this thread.

Good night, Gracie.

CRV@75: A couple of deer rifles, a couple of shotguns, ... a couple of AR15/M16 rifles, too.

Six long guns and enough ammunition for each to "fell a crowd of bad guys" just added 50+ pounds to the currently one-pound go-bag. Not to mention the physical cumbersomeness involved in a single person hauling six long guns simultaneously makes the logistics nearly impossible. Seriously, how would you carry six long guns?


in the hands of a trained marksperson, can fell a crowd of bad guys in seconds.

If you're shooting at an unarmed, pedestrian crowd, that isn't moving very fast, and is out in the open, with little cover, and is at least fifty yards away from you so they can't close with you and go hand-to-hand, then, yeah, a guy might be able to spray and pray and follow the individuals as they scatter in every direction and manage to shoot a whole bunch of unarmed pedestrians at 50+ yards with no cover before they manage to find cover or concealment.

But then, what in gods name are you shooting at a crowd of unarmed civilians for?

On the other hand, the only historic evidence for disasters and catastrophes resulting in roving bands of armed hoodlums is Hollywood movies and invading Iraq. And Iraq has shown that anyone who thinks one guy can seriously take on a roving band of armed hoodlums with an M-16 and "Fell a whole crowd of bad guys in seconds" without getting shot themselves, is someone who's gotten their tactics from Hollywood movies a la John Rambo, not the real world like Iraq.

Even the appearance of a weapon in your hands will be enough to ward off 96% of anyone desperate or dumb enough to show up and make demands of any sort.

Good lord. The appearance of a weapon, depending on what state and jurisdiction you're in, is enough to qualify as "sudden combat" which means that if Bob flashes a gun at Charlie and Charlie had not flashed any weapon at Bob, Charlie could take Bob's weapons flash as an immediate threat on his life and Charlie could now pull out his weapon and shoot Bob, and legally claim self defense. And get away with it.

You flash a gun, you may get yourself killed, and the other guy may not even get prosecuted.

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advise.

And you advising people that waving a gun around is a good way to establish control of a potentially violent situation is completely irresponsible and could get someone killed.

And no, having your gun out and waving it around doesn't guarantee that you'll shoot him before he shoots you.

Speaking of looters,

Do a search on the word "looters" in this thread. It doesn't show up until your post at #75.

That's because you're the one who has turned "looters" into the boogeyman here, some out of control evil that needs heavy firepower to beat back.

what happens if the looters come to you demanding your rations or other supplies?

The question is not "what if". The question is "when", as in when has violent looting happened on such a consistent scale after a disaster that would justify people to stockpile weapons like David Koresh?"

Answer? Never.

Hungry and cold people can be desperate,

Historically? No. They're not. Some people liked to talk about all the rampant "looting" going on after Katrina. But there were no roving mobs of hungry, cold, desparate people with automatic weapons looking to shoot you for your bread.

Name one natural disaster or catastrophe where roving bands of armed thugs was a common, widespread problem. Hurricanes? Tornados? A million people evacuated from southern California because of fire? Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center? nada. zip. Zilch.

You've got no real world evidence to support this concept of "looters gonna git you suckah". And your advice regarding lethal force could get someone killed were they to follow it.

#195 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:31 AM:

OK Greg, I surrender.

I was both logically and morally wrong on all counts.

You win.

#196 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:32 AM:

beth meacham #178: An "area control device" is a shotgun.

Ah. I was thinking more along the lines of a cannister of bear mace (which I've facetiously recommended in the past for crowd control use at Hugo Award ceremonies).

#197 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:38 AM:

CRV - I've avoided this discussion for lots of reasons, one of which is that if I saw a stranger in uniform in my neighborhood, armed, I would probably be the crazy person Lizzy L* mentioned, and consider taking you out with my guns if you didn't satisfy me that you weren't on some "I'm in charge because I have a uniform and a weapon" kick. I'm a disgustingly wholesome, law-abiding, congenial citizen and I've had too many negative interactions with people in uniform on a power trip.

My husband was in the USAR and ANG, did the whole NCO thing. He'd say wait for your orders.

*Every time I see "Lizzy L", I want to squee like a fangirl. I hunted down one of your books for 6 years, and I can see two of your more recent ones from where I'm sitting. Thank you for being you. I like your books and your posts.

#198 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:53 AM:

CRV@115: Why are men with guns not to be trusted? Do you feel the same way about city or state police officers? What about female National Guard or state patrol?

Wow. The whole objection to your "stock pile half a dozen weapons and enough ammo to fell a large group of pedestrians" was that it was stupid and dangerous.

It's stupid because it imagines a non-existent threat. Zombie-looters who roam around in ravenous bands of heavily-armed undeadness looking to eat your brains and shoot you for your bread. They don't exist. Having a contingency plan for dealing with nonexistent threats is stupid.

And it's dangerous because encouraging people to walk around after a natural disaster or some kind of catastrophe with a stock pile of weapons, and telling them to wave their weapon around if someone ever gives you any guff, is gonna get someone needlessly killed.

And rather than acknowledge that (1) ravenous bands of zombie-looters don't actually exist and (2) that advising people to wave a gun around is stupidly dangerous, you change the topic to:

"Would you feel the same way if the man with the gun was the national guard?"

That aint the point. The point is your zombie-looter hoard is an imaginary boogeyman threat invented by you. There is no historical evidence that would suggest that in the event of power going out in the entire eastern seaboard that zombie-looters will take over.

And the point is that your advice telling people to wave a gun around whenever they're threatened by potential zombie-looters is little different than telling people to go play in the freeway because it's fun. No. It's far more likely to get someone needlessly shot.

It's got nothing to do with whether or not I trust the National Guard patroling my streets. It's got to do with the fact that your advice is advocating a dangerous stockpiling of weapons to fight off a non-existent threat, and your advice to escalate situations by waving a gun around is far more likely to get someone needlessly killed.


#203 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:54 AM:

I think there should be a good selection of hand to hand meat cleavers and crowbars to kill the zombies with too. Only a fool brings a long range rifle to a close up zombie picnic.

band-aids to cover up the wound when the zombies take a chunk out of your arm.

a spare brain to throw at them. Also wife and kids are good for this, remember to pack them.

zombie/esperanto dictionary.

fake wounds and gray makeup, when in zombieville zomb like a zombie.

#204 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 05:59 AM:

What is best in life.

To shoot the civilian hordes and hear the lamentations of their women.

#205 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 06:00 AM:

unless the civilians you kill come back as zombies, that would suck.

#209 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 07:00 AM:

Okay, just a quick question for CRV:

Which civilian (let me stress that: civilian) emergency situations have you been in?

I'm curious, because your level of proposed response far outweighs that which would have been appropriate for any civilian emergency I've had to deal with.

#215 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 08:56 AM:

A little background on myself, for the benefit of everyone wondering whether I am stupid, maniacal, or just fucking nuts.

I spent the first half of my life living in a part of the U.S. in which gun ownership was as natural and common as owning a car. Virtually everyone owned one to several guns, and firearms were a not-uncommon component of 72-hour kits. Most males and many females, at an early age, learned to use and operate small-calibre weapons such as the .22 rifle, and none of us, I am sure, would have been surprised to see adults patrolling the neighborhood with weapons during a major disaster during which we'd been cut off from civilian law enforcement support.

I then spent the second half of my life living in places like urban Tacoma. Now, for those of you not familiar with urban Tacoma, around the area of Sprague street up on the hill, it's a, shall we say, not-terribly-inspiring area; in terms of the people being good, stand-up, law-abiding people. It's a place where you can't leave outgoing bills in your mail box because mail theft and check fraud is routine. As is drug dealing. As is petty theft. As is auto break-in and theft. To top it all off, the county jail was within walking distance of my rental house. When I road the local bus routes up the hill, the county jail's rotating clientele were a regular feature, and you can learn a lot about how much to trust your local community by listening to talk on the bus.

So if I seem to have a somewhat paranoid or otherwise "Get them before they get me" attitude about this, it's because such an attitude is not altogether unwarranted. In urban Tacoma.

Now, as to the question of how many real civilian disasters or emergencies I have been in, off the top of my head I'd have to say half a dozen at least, to include chlorine cloud evacuation, earthquake in a major metro area, major wind storms that knock all the power out for a few days, forest fire evac, and so on and so forth.

I guess my point is, the desire to keep a firearm on ones person during a major emergency is not nearly as derranged as it might first appear. If the above information is not convincing for some of you, oh well. Not my problem.

#219 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 09:43 AM:

CRV @ # 109: I'd hide from either of them, but I'd be more scared of #2 because I'd assume he had allies, and worry about where they might be.

Incidentally, I have several relatives currently serving in the military, and I grew up in rural Georgia, eating quail, doves and deer my dad shot. My inclination to hide from a man with a gun in such a scenario stems in part from my father's insistence that the only reason to pick up a gun is if you intend to shoot it, and the only reason to shoot a gun is if you intend to kill something. So when I see someone armed, I start wondering who/what that person plans to kill.

#222 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:27 AM:

CRV # 215: "you can learn a lot about how much to trust your local community by listening to talk on the bus."

I can see it now:

CRV on Zombie infected bus, listening into conversation.

zombie 1: auuuah
zombie 2: braaains
zombie 1: aahuu braiiins
little old lady zombie: eeeh brainssss
little old lady zombie's zombie dog hidden in purse: grrrr
zombie 1: brrrraiiins
heavy metal zombie: urrrgh
zombie 1 and 2: braiiiiinsss
heavy metal zombie: urrrgggghhhhh
zombie 1,2, little old lady zombie: braaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssss
heavy metal zombie: urrrrgghgghh............. brains.
little old lady zombie's zombie dog hidden in purse: yip yip

CRV (thinking, hiding beneath seat): {glad I got all these guns with me.}

#225 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:37 AM:

CRV #109--twice I've been in situations where the National Guard was called up by the governor to deal with an emergency (three times if you count drving through Misouri and Illinois during the 1003 floods there). In those cases, we all knew the Guard had been called up, they went about in groups, and whether or not they went armed depended on what they had been detailed to do.

In no case were they acting without orders.

I would seriously stress that you talk with your senior NCOs about what regulations apply to your conduct in a civil emergency in detail, because just putting on your uniform, picking up a weapon and assuming authority without having been ordered to do so could have significant unpleasant consequences, legally speaking.

That doesn't mean that your military training would not be of use in an emergency, because there's a lot you have been taught hat can be useful--from first aid to remaining calm to leading by example--none of which require a uniform to do. It just means that there are, as far as I understand it, specific limits on what you can and cannot do. Failing a declaration of martial law, the regular civil authorities would be justifiably annoyed by your inserting yourself (without specific orders) into a situation in such a manner, and entitled to take steps.

Before letting your romantic inclinations run loose, get advice on the matter from someone who knows the military regulations that apply to such situations better than you appear to.

#228 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 10:52 AM:

For what it's worth, CRV, while I am not necessarily thrilled at the idea of people wandering around with guns as a general concept, in the specific... well.

Someone I love dearly was just this past week the victim of a home invasion. She was held at gunpoint, beaten about the head and had her home ransacked for cash and valuables. And the thing is, she's lucky that's all that happened to her. It could have been... well, I don't even like to think what it could have been.

Two days later, a friend of hers gave her a shotgun to keep in the house, and is giving her lessons on how to use it. And she told me, maybe it's only psychological, but the knowledge that it's there (and the knowledge that there is nothing quite so deterring to a would-be invader as the k-chak of a shotgun round being chambered on the other side of the door) makes her feel much, much better.

*shrug* I think it is psychological, mostly; that doesn't lessen its value. There are few things worse than that feeling of violation and powerlessness.

My roommate and I are currently discussing (largely as a result of what happened above) whether we should have a gun in our house or not. I'm scared of guns, even though (maybe because) I've been trained to use them. But I'm more scared of what could happen if the worst should occur and we have no way to protect ourselves.

And while in the abstract I agree that America's love affair with firearms is brutish and destabilizing, in the concrete - I want to be safe. I want my family safe. At this point it's not about logic.

#230 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Bryan @ 222:

Zombies aren't so bad. You just need to give them a stake* in society. Try taking them to a political rally.

speaker: What do we want?
crowd: Brains!
speaker: When do we want them?
crowd: Brains!

* there was going to be a pun about vampires here, but I'm not feeling that evil this morning.

#231 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:07 AM:

A.J. #230: a stake*

Werewolves, on the other hand...

#232 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Jakob @ 231
A.J. #230: a stake*
Werewolves, on the other hand...

Werewolves only like steaks if they're really rare. They do like them with sauteed garlic-mushrooms, tho'. Not so much on the sauteed mushrooms for vampires, for some reason...

#233 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Leigh Butler @ 228 --

I had severe anxiety for a long time, taking the form of a phobia of home invasions that didn't allow me to sleep at night. I thought, very seriously, about buying a gun -- after weeks of not sleeping, listening to every noise and bracing myself for an attack, it seemed logical. But buying a gun wouldn't have helped my fear significantly; getting treated for anxiety did.

I've been told by multiple people-who-should-know that you should not own a gun unless you are fully prepared to shoot to kill, without hesitation.

Question whether owning a gun will actually make you and your family safer, or whether it will make you less safe. On a past thread here, someone stated that "a gun is a tool, not a magic wand" (or similar -- I'm paraphrasing). Talismans that make you feel safe can be good, but is it worth the real risks that come with owning a gun?

I don't want to minimize what you and your friend have been through. As I stated, that's my worst nightmare, the thing I fear most. I guess I'm just questioning whether buying a gun is the best way to overcome that fear.

#235 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Leigh @ #228,

That's a horrid thing that happened to your loved one. And yes, they are fortunate that nothing worse occurred. Still, I imagine the psychological shadow of that attack is very, very long. If owning and knowing how to use a firearm helps your loved one regain a sense of security in the home, whether it's placebo or not, then that's a Good Thing in my book.

My mother used to work evenings and graves as a PBX operator at a hospital out in the west part of Salt lake City. One night in the mid-90's she was leaving the building and got knocked down, hit, and had her purse stolen by a group of young males. She had to pick herself up and take herself into the emergency room on her own power.

The effects of that attack linger still. And I think anyone, male or female, who has been mugged, beaten, or otherwise victimized in such a way, will struggle to overcome the psychological wounds, long after physical wounds have healed.

If a firearm or firearms training assists in the healing, so be it.

Back in lovely urban Tacoma, we spent a couple months dealing with a serial home rapist. Until he was caught and sent to prison, even my wife the staunch anti-gun opinionist, began to debate the necessity of a firearm. When I was away at work in Seattle and it was just her and our 2-year old daughter at home, with the serial rapist victimizing houses in our immediate area, what could she use to protect herself and our daughter? Beyond kitchen utensils?

#236 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Caroline @ 233: I guess I'm just questioning whether buying a gun is the best way to overcome that fear.

I'm questioning it too. That's why my roomie and I are talking about it, rather than have already gone and gotten one.

The thing is, I think carrying around a gun is insane, and very likely to get yourself and other people seriously injured or killed.

But having one in your house, with all necessary storage/accessibility precautions taken of course, is different. If someone's breaking into your house, while you're in it, there's basically zero possibility that they have anything but Very Bad Things in mind to do. At that point, it's automatically a life or death situation.

So, I ask myself, would I be willing to shoot to kill, in that situation? Because you're right, if I'm not I shouldn't have a gun.

...And I can't answer that question. I could say that I think I could, because I do think so, but I don't know. I don't think anyone ever knows, until they're actually in that moment. Not about something like that.

Which... doesn't help me solve my dilemma, really.

#238 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:45 AM:

CRV @ 235:

Two home-security options come to mind that don't involve firearms. These aren't necessarily intended to apply to the particulars of the case you cite; I'm tossing them out for educational purposes.

1) Self-defense classes: Learn how to break holds and kick nuts. Has the added advantage of getting one in better

#231 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 08:19 AM:


#238 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:45 AM:

CRV @ 235:

Two home-security options come to mind that don't involve firearms. These aren't necessarily intended to apply to the particulars of the case you cite; I'm tossing them out for educational purposes.

1) Self-defense classes: Learn how to break holds and kick nuts. Has the added advantage of getting one in better shape; bad health kills a lot more people than home invaders.

2) the "creative" option: Get an air-raid or ambulance siren in a junkyard, something really loud. Place switches or buttons for it around the house, preferably in places where the cat can't accidentally trip them off during the night. If you hear an Unexplained Person in the house, you hit the siren, causing Unexplained Person to run, the neighbors to call the police, and your cat to have an aneurysm.

The nice thing about option 2 is that if the siren goes off accidentally, it's not likely to kill anyone. Also, you can install switches in every room, which is better than stashing guns around the house.

#239 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Leigh -
So, I ask myself, would I be willing to shoot to kill, in that situation? Because you're right, if I'm not I shouldn't have a gun.

...And I can't answer that question. I could say that I think I could, because I do think so, but I don't know. I don't think anyone ever knows, until they're actually in that moment. Not about something like that.

Which... doesn't help me solve my dilemma, really.

Almost nobody really does until they are put in the situation, however. And this includes soldiers, police officers, people who spend a lot fo time on ranges (this group does not, in fact, always overlap with the first two) - until you're staring the elephant in the eye, most people don't actually know if they can pull the trigger.

Thank goodness in most situations, it doesn't actually come to that.

#240 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:28 PM:

Almost nobody really does until they are put in the situation, however. And this includes soldiers, police officers, people who spend a lot fo time on ranges (this group does not, in fact, always overlap with the first two) - until you're staring the elephant in the eye, most people don't actually know if they can pull the trigger.

Which provides at least some practical guidance.

Is it worth spending money on weapon you're quite likely not to have the nerve to use?

Would the money be better spent on an improved lock, better windows, or a security service?

Is it worth creating the dilemma of having to choose between running to call 911 and getting help, versus running to get a gun you may not be emotionally able to use? Do you want to have one more decision (gun or phone) to make in an emergency?

Is it worth the risk of having the gun you don't have the nerve to use fall into the hands of an attacker?

Is it worth the risk of having a gun available to escalate a domestic fight, given that home is already one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be?

Is it worth the risk that a child may well get past any security measures you set, and get the gun in their hands as "play"?

Is it worth having knowing that reasonable measures to keep the gun from being misused (basic being unloaded weapon and ammunition being locked up separately) will also delay you getting your hands on it when you need to use it?

#241 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 12:35 PM:

A little late out of the blocks, can I just add in a vote for "tuiles", here? (Though naturally I originally flashed on these tules.)

#243 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:05 PM:

CRV @109:

In a major disaster, what would your emotional reaction be to....

a) seeing a pot-bellied red-necked, unshaven white guy in a Skoal cap and blue jeans, wandering around the street with a deer rifle in the crook of his arm

b) seeing a clean-shaven, fully-uniformed United States Army Sergeant in field cap or beret, walking purposefully down the street with an AR15 or deer rifle slung, or at the low ready

Is your reaction identical in each scenario?

Yes.

(The armed redneck is an immediate threat. And the US army soldier means we've been invaded, so he's a threat, too.)

Now, if you replace (b) with a Lothian and Borders Police officer, it's a different matter ...

#244 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:07 PM:

A.J. @#258: not to mention the other benefit of self-defense classes: they teach you how to fall.

Not everyone will be attacked during the course of a lifetime. But EVERYBODY falls.

#245 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 01:19 PM:

CRV: Here in the UK, the army is occasionally called out on the streets to back up the usual civilian agencies in handling some abnormal situation -- for example, when the fire service goes on strike, someone has to put out fires. But they leave their guns back in the barracks; law enforcement is a Police job, and the army are there for machinery and muscle.

#248 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:07 PM:

I can't have a supply of meds in my Go bag. I can't get a month ahead, because one of my meds is Schedule Two, and I'm only allowed a one-month supply at a time (actually a 30-day supply, which is somewhat less than an average month's).

As far as guns...if the criterion is "willing to shoot to kill," I might as well not have it. Intimidation works just as well with a fake gun, but if the intruder is armed, that could get me killed.

Not to mention Ursula's excellent questions at 240, which I answer No, Yes, and then it's No all the way down. (Well, I'm not worried about domestic fights, in my current situation, but I'll still say No.)

#249 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Ursula @ 240:

(The below, obviously, doesn't apply to everyone. I'm answering your questions as they apply to my particular situation.)

Is it worth spending money on weapon you're quite likely not to have the nerve to use?

I don't know about the "quite likely" part. The idea of someone breaking into my home and trying to rob me or worse scares me, but it also makes me very, very angry.

But as I said, no one can ever know until they're there. But somehow it seems worse not to even have the option.

Would the money be better spent on an improved lock, better windows, or a security service?

Actually, I could get the gun for free, or almost free. I don't have the money for a security system.

Is it worth creating the dilemma of having to choose between running to call 911 and getting help, versus running to get a gun you may not be emotionally able to use? Do you want to have one more decision (gun or phone) to make in an emergency?

That's not much of a dilemma, unfortunately. Given that typical hold times for 911 in L.A. were ten to twenty minutes (if you could get through at all!), and I can't imagine they're much better in New York (where I am now), if someone's busting into my place the answer is obvious.

Is it worth the risk of having the gun you don't have the nerve to use fall into the hands of an attacker?

This is definitely a very legitimate concern, though. My dad asked me the same question when I told him I had bought a baseball bat for home defense.

And on reflection, the gun actually wins over the bat, because with a gun you don't have to be within arm's reach of your attacker.

But still, yes. A concern.

Is it worth the risk of having a gun available to escalate a domestic fight, given that home is already one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be?

I live with a roommate, also a woman, who's been one of my best friends since high school. Not an issue.

Is it worth the risk that a child may well get past any security measures you set, and get the gun in their hands as "play"?

No kids in the house. Very unlikely to ever be kids in the house. Not an issue.

Is it worth having knowing that reasonable measures to keep the gun from being misused (basic being unloaded weapon and ammunition being locked up separately) will also delay you getting your hands on it when you need to use it?

Yeah, I wondered about this. However, given that I don't have to worry about children or angry spouses finding a loaded gun, I figure engaging the safety and storing it in a place where it won't be accidentally disturbed would suffice.

But that's definitely a question I would ask my instructor. I've trained with firearms before, but that was years ago; if I do get one again I'll want a refresher course, all of which include gun safety protocols.

I just don't know. The pros and cons seem almost equal to me right now. But it's good that these concerns are being raised; thanks for bringing them up.

#250 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:00 PM:

I will not have a gun in my house. That way, when the beast is eating me alive, I only have to worry about wanting to run the car into a concrete wall.

#251 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:34 PM:

No kids in the house. Very unlikely to ever be kids in the house. Not an issue.

No kids living there? Or no kids likely to ever visit?

And the gun will follow you out of the house, absent a deliberate act to get rid of it. (Assuming you aren't going to just leave it behind for the next owner/tenant.) Do you see kids, living with or visiting, as likely in your future? Visiting is the tricky one - a visitor can be unexpected, and while no one should gripe about a mess, stress about a forgotten gun being found is on a different level.

Also, are you comfortable with the legal options for getting rid of a gun, so you are not putting the gun into the hands of someone you'd rather not have it? Getting rid of something is always an issue once it is obtained, and just putting it in the trash isn't really a good way to get rid of a gun.

Troops with guns on the streets of a British town or city means troops who are prepared to shoot to kill. It screams "terrorist insurgency", on the level of the Northern Irish troubles and Operation Motorman and internment camps and hundreds of people disappearing in the night and mist.

(Likewise, even seeing a cop with a gun -- anywhere other than an airport or a nuclear reactor -- is cause for alarm: it's an armed response unit and somewhere nearby something is happening that got them called out. Because recourse to lethal force is non-routine, the mere presence of weapons implies imminent use.)

Again: there's been some sort of civil disaster? Unarmed troops on the street: great. Armed troops: absolutely bloody terrifying.

#252 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Ursula, I have to ask, how much practical, hands-on experience have you had with firearms?

#253 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Ursula @ 251:

No kids living there? Or no kids likely to ever visit?

Yes.

Do you see kids, living with or visiting, as likely in your future?

No, but I have no idea what the future will bring. New city, and all.

But I don't see it being that big a problem - if I can remember to whisk the couch and take out the trash before company comes over, I can remember to lock up a firearm.

Also, are you comfortable with the legal options for getting rid of a gun, so you are not putting the gun into the hands of someone you'd rather not have it?

If I got a gun, it would almost certainly be one of my father's; if I decided I didn't want it any more, it would go to another family member.

Though that does remind me to look into the rules about shipping firearms across state lines...

#254 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Leigh: if the kill/non-kill issue is what gives you pause, consider the several, non-lethal cartridges that can be used in shotguns. Namely, rock salt or the new "bean bag" round that is gaining popularity with law enforcement. These rounds will hurt or incapacitate an assailant, without necessarily fatally injuring them. You might also consider a tazer, which is another non-lethal weapon which can incapacitate.

A.J: I studied for two years under a genuine Okinawan Karate-do master, and he was of the opinion that hand-to-hand was only realistic if the assailant was unarmed and of similar mass to yourself. He used to caution the females especially on this. A 115-pound female, however well trained, would have to be pretty lucky in taking down or overpowering a 230-pound male attacker. Most of the time, in a hand-to-hand fight, mass wins. Your siren idea is interesting, in that most home invaders are nervous as hell anyway. We had a guy walk into our home in Seattle one morning after I'd gone to work and our roommmate had left the door unlocked, and all it took to scare the guy out was my wife waking up and shouting. Guy ran down three flights and out the door like the Devil Himself was on the guy's heels.

#255 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2007, 04:31 PM:

CRV @ 254:

consider the several, non-lethal cartridges that can be used in shotguns. Namely, rock salt or the new "bean bag" round

Which is what I think my friend is buying for the shotgun she was given, now that I think about it...

You might also consider a tazer, which is another non-lethal weapon which can incapacitate.

A taser would be great. Unfortunately, those puppies run anywhere from $500 to over a grand, and are therefore waaaay out of my budget at the current time.

Taking the lethality factor down a few notches would definitely be nice, though. Hm. We'll see.

#232 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 09:28 AM:

#249 ::: Leigh Butler (via Jim at 231) The idea of someone breaking into my home and trying to rob me or worse scares me, but it also makes me very, very angry.

Anger is not something to make a use/no-use decision with regarding lethal force.

I wouldn't recommend purchasing a gun out of anger, either, because it doesn't make your anger go away, so you end up an angry person... with a gun.

In most jurisdictions, someone breaking into your home is not, by itself, sufficient legal cause to claim self defense in the use of lethal force.

Not to mention, shooting at some dark blob that you think is a home intruder may end up getting someone you love shot because they were going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

#233 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 02:20 PM:

CRV: A good self-defense class doesn't teach you how to beat up the other person. It teaches you how to get away from the other person. I don't know why you're talking about "aking down or overpowering".

Anyways, feel free to respond, but I think I've had about enough of this thread, so the last word is yours.

#234 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Ursula L In general, I'm not going to trust anyone willing to enter the US armed forces. (Or other armed forces with similar understandings of "orders" versus human morality.) If you're willing to subordinate your own morality and duty of humanity to military orders, then I'm not going to trust you to act humanely if I don't already know and approve of your orders.

Sigh. Noted.

CRV I am asking these questions, mostly because of what happened with Katrina. Governor Blanco eventually sent General Honore in with the Guard, and the response all around was, for the most part, quite positive. The sight of uniformed, usually armed Army troops patrolling and restoring order did much to asuage fears and the feeling that they had been abandoned.

I don’t know how to not sound patronising but Xopher was spot on, and this response shows why. You didn’t ask us, “How would you feel about National Guard Troops activated by the Governor?” you asked how we would react to a random soldier/person dressed as a soldier, post disaster.

Me, I’d view the latter with suspicion, the former with some caution (and I’m in the Guard). Once I decided the former is legit, I’d probably relax, but until then... someone with a gun in hand, is to be treated with caution, and concern. Why? Because they have the means to do me harm, and I have no way to adduce their intent.

And, speaking as a Green Tab, carrying a weapon is never a formality. The presence of arms changes the equation.

I’ll toss in some advice, free of charge: as a Reservist, your best course of action is to remain the civilian you are. Posse Comitatus applies, the Gov. can’t activate you and it would require an Act of Congress to mobilize your unit, attach you to an active unit and send you to a disaster area. Yes, the mindset is constant, but only when on drill, or activated are you, in law, anything other than a civilian (the same is true of guardsmen). As an ADSW/AGR type your status is different (as I recall your situation) but Posse Comitatus still applies, and your Unit’s status is the controlling factor.

A guy who belongs to the 82nd can’t go into Fayetteville, in uniform, after a hurricane, and you can’t do it in Bellingham after an earthquake.

Some background about myself (parallel) I grew up with guns. Semi-rural Ohio/Indiana. Moved to the fringes of E. LA (not known for it’s pacific ambiance). It didn’t make me paranoid. Made me very situationally aware (let’s just say I didn’t stand out in upstate Indiana in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s). Guns are a tool. They have a very limited function (killing things, imposing one’s will by threat of force). Being in a place where people shot/beat/knifed each other (and random bullets rolled off the roof/injured people locking their doors) didn’t change that.

Leigh Butler: the shotgun is (IM [professional] O) more useful psychologically than practically. For real defense, a handgun, with frangible bullets (e.g. Glaser Safety Slugs) is far better.

I might rather (and I like guns) commend Aikido and a stout stick near several doors (make them all the same for weight/balance). The stick has far less in the way of unintended consequences should you hit someone with it when you didn’t need to.

CRV: I don’t know about your stripe of Karate, but I’ve seen a lot of tiny practitioners of Aikido mop the floor with huge practitioners. I’ve seen the same in Judo, Brasilian jiu-jitsu and other grappling arts.

#235 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2007, 07:58 AM:

A few days after Katrina, I was in a Connecticut Turnpike rest stop. Parked there was a National Guard convoy with trucks full of water bottles.

Inside the restaurant was a group of young soldiers intently watching CNN broadcasts of Katrina news. I went up to them, asked where they were from (Maine) and wished them luck.

That's what the National Guard is for. Not getting shot in mindless war.

#236 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2007, 06:47 PM:

For CRV's #191:

I'd probably be smart to chat up my old Sergeant Major, ask him what he thinks is the best course of action for me to take as a Reservist. He is a WA State Highway Patrolman in the civilian world, and should be able to tell me what's realistically (and lawfully) expected of me, as an NCO of the USAR, if disaster strikes.

Here's the answer, in case you never got with your old Sergeant Major:

Move to a safe place, and stay by a telephone. Inform your chain of command of where you're located, so that if your unit is called up you can report for duty.

Y'see, the military isn't one individual, the whole "Army of One" nonsense aside. The military comes in units. They arrive with lots of guys, with trucks, with supplies, with comms, with lights, with shelter.

If I see just one guy carrying a rifle at the ready, no matter how correct his uniform, I'm going to assume it's Old Fred from the Live Free Or Die Militia (membership one, after his pal Joe split off to become the National Patriot Militia), who's decided that (thanks to all the chaos) today is the perfect day to overthrow the Zionist Occupation Government.

#237 ::: Gabrielle ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2009, 01:52 PM:

inb4

Not needed.

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Time for a blistering response to acne-begone?

#239 ::: Lee sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2010, 02:19 AM:

@ 241-242

#240 ::: Cadbury Moose spots probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2011, 04:21 AM:

Possibly a spam probe at #244 - it has that air of spicy pinkness about it but there's no link or obvious payload.

The one-line comment smacks of boilerplate though....

#241 ::: Dave Luckett sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2011, 04:24 AM:

William Lucas is a 'bot.
Posing as a thing he's not.
He has no mind. Alas, the same
Is true of those who use his name.

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