Sunday, August 26, 2012

Arming the Good Guys is the Answer - Not

New York Times op-ed by Gail Collins

We had a shooting near the Empire State Building. An aggrieved ex-employee of an apparel company killed his former co-worker, and was himself killed by police. Except for the famous-landmark location, it was not actually a very big story. Remember the mass shooting at the lumberyard in North Carolina earlier this year, or the one last October at the California cement plant? No? Neither does anybody else except the grieving families. 

Nine passers-by were also wounded, and it seems almost certain that some or all were accidentally hit by the police. This isn’t surprising; it’s only in movies that people are good shots during a violent encounter. In 2008, Al Baker reported in The Times that the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 percent. 

And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.
The pro-gun crowd will quickly point out how much better they are than the cops at hitting their targets. SOME of them are, for sure, but some cops are well-trained marksmen too.

The average gun owner is not better trained and better equipped to handle an emergency than the average law enforcement officer, in spite of what the tiny fringe element of extremists says.

Good guys carrying guns in public does not make us safer. The proof is in examples like Tucson, where the armed civilians DID NOT STOP IT, and in the most recent Empire State Building incident, in which the shooters made matters worse.  Both of those, interestingly, were not gun-free zones.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. The Empire State Building has one of the highest pedestrian densities in Manhattan--I'm actually surprised more people weren't hit.

    It's hardly indicative of how most police shootings (or armed citizen shootings) go down, since very few places in the country have such a high concentration of pedestrians.

  2. Couldn't have happened because New York has tough gun laws and they kept their assault weapon ban.

  3. I tweeted responses to Sarah Brady (@Bradytwitt) about this silly article. It has numerous errors and leaps in logic. Here a just a couple:

    1. "And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.

    The risk pattern for bystanders from multiple officers pursuing a suspect who just committed a crime is so very different than from an armed citizen defending self in the course of commission of a crime. How absurd to even try to say that one equals the other. The police have a much different job from Joe Civilian in the act of self defense.

    2. "Wisconsin has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country. (The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives it 3 points out of a possible 100.) It was also, of course, the scene of a terrible mass shooting this month by Wade Michael Page at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee."

    Do we need to start a list of the mass shootings that have occurred in the repeatedly Brady praised People's Republic of California to show how disingenuous it is to make this connection?

    1. In your first point you seem to be saying concealed carry guys only plan on protecting themselves. Yet, how many gun guys have we heard lament the fact the the Aurora theater was a gun free zone, as if one of them would have saved the day without doing any collateral damage.

      Your second point seems to be saying CA has more than its share of mass shootings. I don't remember that.

    2. First point:
      Aurora and NYC shootings are completely different. You guys fail to understand something. When we lament the fact that Aurora was a GFZ - it's not because we have delusions of being a cop or a superhero - we just want the chance to defend ourselves.

      We do not desire to run toward trouble and save people. But, in a mass shooting - the act of defending ourselves and our family has the benefit of also stopping others from slaughter.

      The NYC incident was NOT a mass shooting. My point was that if the victim had been armed, the risk to people around him from the act of him defending himself would be much less than the risk to bystanders of multiple officers pursuing and then engaging in a firefight.

      Armed citizens do not have the job description and therefore would not incur the same risk pattern.

      Does that help clear it up?

      Second point:
      I didn't say CA had more than its fair share - simply that the Brady score is irrelevant to the WI shooting. It was disingenuous to pretend that is does.

      Do you agree?

    3. Mikeb, do you remember that map you posted on mass shootings? Multiple events in California and several in other gun control states, while good states had at most one or two.

    4. Frail Liberty, You present such convoluted questions and then torture me for not answering them.

      " It was disingenuous to pretend that is does.

      Do you agree?"

      Did I pretend something? Was I disingenuous? Do I agree with what?

    5. Mike,

      It's not convoluted - you just seem to have a difficult time following logical flow (all regarding point 2):

      I said:
      "Do we need to start a list of the mass shootings that have occurred in the repeatedly Brady praised People's Republic of California to show how disingenuous it is to make this connection?"

      You said:
      "Your second point seems to be saying CA has more than its share of mass shootings. I don't remember that."

      I said:
      "I didn't say CA had more than its fair share - simply that the Brady score is irrelevant to the WI shooting. It was disingenuous to pretend that is does.

      Do you agree?"

      Just as in my original post, I was asking if you agreed that the author was disingenuous to try to connect the WI shooting to the low WI Brady score when plenty of shootings have occurred in high Brady score states.

      That's all. Pretty simple. You just have to be able to follow logical train of thought and conversational flow.

    6. Remember this map?

      The link was posted on your site. Note how the gun laws of the state don't affect the number of mass shootings. There is a high correlation of shootings to population density.

    7. Greg, that's no big deal. It's like the Chicago argument. What we need is federally applied strict gun control. We've never had that.

    8. And we never will. When will you get that?

  4. 1. The armed citizen at the Tucson incident was some distance away, according to what I've read about it. Are you saying that he was close enough to have intervened and chose not to do so?

    2. The incident near the Empire State Building was in a gun-free zone: New York City in the State of New York. Only celebrities and politicians are licensed to carry there. See how effective gun-free zones are?

    3. I gave you information about the firearms proficiency of NYPD officers. The requirement for them to qualify is scoring 78% on stationary targets at seven, fifteen, and twenty-five yards twice a year. They practice a little in advance, but for many officers, that's it. A good number of us private citizens who have carry licenses enjoy shooting. We study our guns. We practice regularly. We take classes when we can. The idea that we're unskilled and the police are highly trained professionals is a lie perpetrated by the Brady Bunch, et al.

    When are you going to get it, Mikeb?

    1. Greg, 1. there were many armed citizens present at the Tucson shooting. 2. New York City is not a gun free zone. 3. other studies put the cop proficiency at 35%. You're cherry picking.

    2. 1. What evidence do you have for armed citizens around the Tucson shooting? I've heard of one who was distant. Show me the evidence.

      2. It's nearly impossible to get a carry license in New York City. It's also exceedingly difficult to get permission to own guns in that city. Effectively, the whole city is a gun-free zone.

      3. I cited a study of the NYPD, not cops in general. New York has a particular antipathy to guns, and this shows in many ways.

    3. 1. It was in Arizona where the good folks enjoy Constitutional Carry. Are you so gullible that you believe the only armed civilian was that one we all heard about. Use your head, that's the proof.

      2. Effectively, bullshit. NYC is not a gun free zone.

      3. You cherry picked a study that could counter the quote in the article.

    4. 1. You can't just say that it was in a state that doesn't require a license. You have to show evidence of how many people in that state and in that region typically carry. That would indicate the probability that there were guns on the scene. To be certain, you'd have to interview the people who were present. You're doing what one of my calculus professors would do when he couldn't get a problem to work out--at this point, we wave our hands, and here's the answer, he would say.

      2. So what are you saying? In your view, is it easy to own and carry a gun legally in New York City? Is it something that ordinary citizens can do? Is it something that only approved people can do? Under the laws of that city, a private citizen has a ridiculously hard time getting permission even to own a gun, much less to carry one. Of course, criminals, the police, and celebrities do as they please. That's a de facto gun-free zone.

      3. It isn't cherry-picking to cite a study of the police department in question. The thirty-five percent number relates to how often an NYPD officer hits a suspect when said suspect isn't shooting back at the cop. In a gun fight, those officers get hits about eighteen percent of the time. Seventy-eight percent is the qualifying number against static targets on the practice range.

      Every once in a while, just for the sake of diversity, you should let a fact get into your head.

    5. Every once in a while, just for the fuck of it, you should admit when you're wrong like about NYC being a gun free zone.

      This would do a lot to improve your credibility. The way it is, you seem like one of those guys who never admits he's ever wrong or ever backs down, ever.

    6. So tell me--if I go to New York City, I can bring my guns with me? What about the residents of that burg? The gun laws there mean that few people can own guns legally and even fewer can carry them. That's a gun-free zone in my book--a place where ordinary citizens are disarmed, but criminals and authorities aren't. We see how that works out.

    7. Every once in a while Mikey, just for the fuck of it, you should admit when you're a fucking moron like about NYC.

      This will do nothing to improve your credibility. Since we all think that you are a giant windowlicking douche....

      found on WIKI....
      New York City

      Residents of New York City who wish to obtain a pistol license must apply through the New York Police Department License Bureau at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan.

      The choice of licenses are:

      Unrestricted Concealed Carry License (for personal self defense, generally considered off-limits to an average citizen)

      Restricted Business Carry License,

      Restricted Target License

      Restricted Premises-only License.[14]

      NYC Unrestricted Concealed Carry Licenses are valid throughout the rest of the state.

      Security Guards and business people who regularly carry valuables may be issued a Restricted Business Carry License which is valid only while conducting the business specifically as it was described, in great detail, on the application for the license.

      NYC target or premises-only licenses are the licenses issued to average citizens who cannot show a need for self defense greater than any another average citizen. They are clearly marked:

      RESTRICTED - NOT FOR CARRY and require the licensee to obtain special permission from the NYPD License Bureau to leave the city with the handgun.

      Most licenses issued in New York City are for on-premises possession only, for self-defense within the home or business.

      Transporting the handgun (via a locked-box) to and from a target range must be done according to a strictly limited schedule pre-approved by the NYPD Licensing Bureau. NYC target licenses allow carrying to and from the range within a "locked-box" at any time at the discretion of the licensee, but prohibit the possession of the licensed handgun in a loaded condition within the home, thereby prohibiting use for self-defense within the home or business.

      Applicants for, and holders of, a NYC target license must be members of an NYPD License Bureau-approved target range within NYC at the time of application for the license. Traveling through New York City with a license issued from another jurisdiction within New York State must be done carefully (locked box, in vehicle's trunk, no unnecessary stops).

    8. You look like an idiot arguing over whether it is a "gun free zone" or not. OK, let's just call it a "normal people can't have a gun zone". Is that better? The result is still essentially the fucking same for nearly everyone in NYC.

    9. Yes, this is an argument over definition, but notice what it shows. In Mikeb's view, New York allows its residents to have guns. Only some residents and under strictly limited conditions, but that's good enough for him. He has said in the past that he wants that kind of law everywhere. At the same time, he calls this a minor restriction of our rights.

      Let's be clear: When Mikeb talks about gun control, he means what we see in New York, Chicago, and D.C. That's rights to him.

      That's also why we must never allow his proposals to become law.

  5. Armed citizens repel attacks every day without harming any bystanders. And we can only guess at how many attacks never happen in the first place because citizens were armed. Both of those events are positive outcomes in my book and make us all safer.

    Criminals are bold because they rightfully expect about 98% of adult victims to be unarmed. When a criminal begins to expect that there is a decent chance their potential victims are armed, they will look for another profession.

    In case anyone is wondering how few adults are armed in public, here is an estimate. There are about 8 million concealed pistol license holders in the U.S. And let's assume that 4.8 million of them (60%) are armed in public at any given moment. I will also estimate that roughly 217 million people (70% of total population) are adults in the U.S. So a criminal could reasonably expect that about 4.8 million out of 217 million adults would be armed in public. That means that about 1 in 45, or 2% of, adults out in public are armed.

    1. Yes, and that 2%, if it really is that high, causes all the problems too. There are incidents of negligence as well as criminal behavior disguised (sometimes it isn't disguised).

      The little good they do is far outweighed by the problems caused.

    2. Mikeb, you're conflating again. You always speculate about anyone who commits a crime with a gun or has an accident, but you hardly ever find evidence that said person had a carry license. Until you can prove that we are a problem, you shouldn't say such things.