Monday, December 24, 2012

Piers Morgan on the Gun Control Situation

John Lott used the Aurora Batman Shooter as an example to say that deranged spree shooters purposely choose gun-free zones for their attacks. That's usually not the case at all.  These guys usually go to the place of their grievance.  I don't know why the pro-gun guys keep pushing this obvious untruth.

His other main point was the one which La Pierre has made the NRA's official stance, more armed good guys are needed. There are a couple problems with that.  One is the armed good guys are not highly trained and properly vetted. They're no more prepared to handle a hot situation than anyone else. The requirements for a concealed carry license are too low in most states and in others they are actually non-existent.

Ironically, Jared Loughner carried a concealed weapon legally that day in Tucson.

His case, and that of Columbine, VA Tech, and others show that even when there are armed good guys present, they are usually powerless to stop the bad guy. The Empire State Building shooting illustrates what can happen when they do.

What's your opinion?  Has the tide turned in the gun-control vs. gun-rights argument?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Certainly the media is harping on it, and it gives a nice bread and circuses issue for the Democratic party. But this doesn't mean a fundamental loss in strength for gun rights activists; the reality is that the wave of attention being provided by people who are nominally anti-gun is artificial.

    The reality is that the issue of guns is usually a secondary or tertiary issue in most elections simply because the usual crowd that is pro-gun control (liberals, progressives, etc.) have had bigger issues to tackle, like gay rights. Gun rights voters, on the other hand, are usually very consistent on the issue. Only a handful of gun control proponents are truly committed and make this issue a constant priority. We can see this in the sheer disparity of membership and financing between the NRA and Brady Campaign or other comparable organization. The NRA has 4,000,000 members; the Brady Campaign has 28,000. Those 4,000,000 vote according to NRA endorsements and the like; the Brady Campaign can at most get 28,000 across a nation of 300,000,000. As soon as media attention moves on to other things, the wave of pro-gun control sentiment goes elsewhere. All that's really left are people who agree with gun control but really wouldn't think about it otherwise.

    I'll be honest. When gun rights activists say "They're just politicizing tragedy!", I immensely disagree. Frankly, most of the American public wasn't really going to care about the issue unless there was some sort of event as the impetus; gun control advocates have to take advantage as long as there's any focus on the issue at all.

    As for the cases used, I disagree immensely. You'll have to remind us all what James Holmes' grievance wit that movie theater was; certainly no other connection can be found. There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence suggesting a rational choice. Besides, the numbers add up quite well. These incidents you're referring to continually end up happening in what are nominally "gun free zones"; certainly this is indisputable. Mass murderers, like any other predators, deliberately go for the softest target possible.

    Besides, to say no good guy ever stops a bad guy is bunk. In most cases, it's not exactly headline grabbing to report, "Armed Man Subdued, Status Quo Restored". Besides, it's very hard to qualify as "mass shooting" as averted since it would have to play out to actually be a mass shooting. Still, you can find cases where potential mass murder has been averted; sometimes with no bloodshed.

    I am noticing, however, that the line of attack on concealed carry has started to change from "Oh my god, so dangerous, blood in the streets!" to "Concealed carry doesn't work! Look at all these cases where no one could legally carry and the murderer did it!"

    By the way, putting more armed cops in schools was a Clinton idea. Just sayin'...

    1. Jack, Loughner didn't go to a gun free zone. Neither did the dozen or so mass shootings that happened in workplaces this year. The Aurora theater shooting may be the only exception to this rule. They go to the place of their grievance regardless of its gun free status.

    2. Loughner is the exception, rather than the rule. And define "mass shooting" since this term is usually liberally misused (no pun intended).

  2. These guys usually go to the place of their grievance.

    that just happen to be gun free zones, huh? Apparently gun free zones are dangerous in two ways. People aren't allowed to defend themselves and they induce people to become mass killers.

    1. Yes, in some cases. It also happens to be political rallies in Tucson and many workplaces each year.

    2. Most workplaces, being private property, disallow the carry of weapons by law abiding Citizens.

  3. Mike,

    Re: Your comments about Concealed Carriers being insufficiently trained and about how the Empire State Building incident earlier this year shows what can happen if they get involved.

    There are two big things that contributed to all of the misses at the Empire State Building. First: to try to prevent accidental discharges, rather than train the cops harder so that they keep their fingers off the trigger unless they intend to shoot, NYC has demanded that their handguns have heavy trigger pulls.

    If you haven't shot a handgun before, trust me, the length and weight of a trigger's pull can ruin your accuracy--especially if you do not practice regularly with it. Which brings us to...

    Second: the police are not all as well trained as you think. If you look on various forums online, you will find cops griping that they only have to qualify at infrequent intervals, and that nobody has to practice the rest of the time. The only ones who stay in practice all year are the ones who take the initiative and expense to buy their own ammo and go to a range.

    As for concealed carriers, we practice regularly because, as I said in a previous post, we are terrified of accidentally injuring someone. Therefore, we go to the range a lot and shoot a lot of ammo each time. Incidentally, this is one reason we buy ammo in bulk lots on the internet. The government doesn't require that we do all of this practice; we require it of ourselves.

    As a result, you don't usually see defensive gun uses with the amount of collateral damage of the Empire State incident. (Thankfully there also aren't THAT many police shootings that are that disastrous either.) Instead, you see situations like what ended the shooting in Oregon: a CCW holder drew his weapon and pointed it at the shooter while he was trying to un-jam his weapon. The CCW holder did not shoot because there were too many bystanders behind the gunman. However, the sight of a gun pointed his way, especially while he couldn't return fire, was enough to make the gunman run off and commit suicide earlier than he might have otherwise.

    In case you wonder what we gun people talk about in cases like this, it's not, "Woo Hoo! Dude had a gun! Too bad he didn't shoot the perp!" Instead, it's a discussion about what happend, what the guy did right, and how we hope that if we are ever in such a situation, we'll have the same cool head and not do something stupid that hurts somebody.

    1. "As for concealed carriers, we practice regularly because, as I said in a previous post, we are terrified of accidentally injuring someone. "

      I can't let you get away with that. You can speak for yourself, your closest associates and that's about it. You definitely cannot speak for all.

      Just like gun owners at large are made up of all kinds, good, bad, well trained and drunks who take drugs, so are concealed carry guys, perhaps to a lesser extent, I'll grant you that, but the requirements are not high enough to render them all that much better as a group.

    2. Mike,

      It is true that I cannot speak for all, and I was generalizing about most of the members of the group. I was basing this generalization upon personal experience, observations, and conversations with others from other states who talk about how much they see people around them practicing.

      I was also basing it on the fact that when you get a permit, at least in Tennessee, you are taught about all of the mistakes you could make that could land you in civil court, or even in jail. I've known people who have been intimidated by this and determined to not get the permit.

      As for your comment that permit holders are not screened enough to distill a safer group, if you look up the crime statistics, you will see that permit holders commit crimes FAR less often than non-permit holders, indicated that they may represent a generally more responsible segment of society. We're not perfect, but we're also not the loose cannons everyone on your side pictures.

    3. You must have missed the lengthy and tedious discussions I had with Frail Liberty pretty recently in which I express doubt about the stats that say concealed carry guys are safer. My guess is there's improper reporting going into those stats. FL came up with some truly incredible numbers, 13 times safer than the general public, he said. I don't believe it for a minute. I think many crimes by concealed carry guys go unreported because no one is checking if the arrested man has a permit or not.

      That's not to mention how many crimes are plea bargained down or charges dropped for various reasons.

      I'm sure the Tennessee applicants are required to jump through some hoops, but not nearly enough to ensure a higher norm. Places like Alaska and Arizona it's a joke.

    4. You say that only because you don't see a lot of stories in the media about license holders screwing up. We've explained to you before how that's poor evidence, but since your narrative demands the belief that we're a bunch of crazies and "hidden criminals," you can't accept the facts.

    5. "your narrative demands the belief that we're a bunch of crazies and "hidden criminals,"

      Not true. Gun owners are divided into three groups, criminals, hidden criminals and law-abiding. Or it could be said the hidden criminals are a sub-group within the law-abiding. You get the idea.

    6. Mike,

      I don't know how other states administer their systems, but Tennessee's Permits are run by the Department of Safety. Your permit and your Driver's License have the same unique identifying number and both are linked to your social security number.

      The Dept. of Safety database is linked into all of the law enforcement databases, so if you get an arrest that would disqualify you, whether it's local TN police, police in another state, or federal agents that arrest you, you get flagged in the database and your permit gets pulled.

      I know this because I've had to help clients who had their permits denied or pulled on the basis of bogus arrests, or jailers who accidentally placed the wrong SSN on a prison report. We had to go to the other states where these happened and get copies of the paperwork that showed that the client was eligible to have the permit (e.g. charges were dropped because the "suspicious substances" were not drugs, or paperwork to show who was actually in jail and that the screw up had been corrected.)

      Many of these items we were clearing up were 30 years old and the result of bad record keeping (they shouldn't have been left in the system). If the databases work well enough to find old arrests and flag them to be checked out, I think it can be pretty well trusted regarding modern crimes which are all logged by either DL number or SSN.

      Tennessee and every state who's records I've seen show similar results to those in the Florida study. These numbers are calculated by looking at the total number of permits and the number of revocations in a given year. Revocations happen for the same things that cause you to lose your gun rights--felonies, order of protection, violent misdemeanors--plus (at least in TN) delinquent child support.

      You may not want to believe the numbers, but they're accurate when it comes to these types of crimes. There may not be reliable stats for nonviolent misdemeanors and traffic violations, but those wouldn't be very helpful for our purposes.

      Regarding your phrase "hidden criminals" I'm guessing you mean people who have committed crimes and not been prosecuted for it. If that's the case, then yes, 100% of permit holders fall into that category. As do 100% of the rest of the population including you. We have a massive problem in this country with over-criminalization. There are so many laws that nobody can know all of them, and none of us can help but to break a few each day.

      Frighteningly, this is intentional. When I was in law school, the professors would talk about how part of the legal theory was to create such a morass of laws that when we found a truly bad guy, we could be sure to get him on Something. This is no way to run a government. It concentrates too much power in the hands of the prosecutors.

      If you are concerned with plea bargains, etc., the best thing you can do is to agitate for major reforms in the criminal justice system to reduce all of the excess regulation and the extra victimless crimes that have been created over the years. This would reduce prosecutors' and defense attorneys' loads and allow for more full trials.

    7. " As do 100% of the rest of the population including you."

      You still don't understand what I mean by "hidden criminals."

  4. You've been repeating the claim that there were armed citizens in the Tucson event, but now you're adding Virginia Tech and Columbine? Mikeb, you move farther and farther from facts every day. The incident at the Empire State Building involved poorly trained police officers--the very people that your side believes are the only ones who "need" guns.

    1. I just learned that this week. There were armed guards at both of those locations. Imagine that.

      What's your idea, Greg, that one retired cop with a huge beer belly who's supplementing his pension working at a school is going to stop crazy guys in body armor with murder on their minds?

    2. Body armor? I hate to tell you this, but "load bearing equipment" is not the same as body armor, no matter how confused and ignorant media pundits are. LBE doesn't stop bullets.

    3. Mikeb, the college where I teach has many acres of land and thousands of students. I've seen three or four armed security officers, and a couple of them would be knocked over by a stiff wind. Colleagues of mine have carry licenses. I'd much rather have those of us who are not only trusted to teach but also are trusted by the state to carry a gun have the opportunity to defend ourselves and our students if an attack came.

  5. I'm sorry, Mike, but when it comes to gun owners as a whole, in spite of your rather feeble "three groups" comments, your presuppositions are showing.