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Armed and Dangerous

© Matt Bors

The NRA is proposing that the solution to school violence is to add more guns. Their proposal is to have an armed guard at every school. But they forget that at the worst school shooting in our history, Columbine High School, there was an armed guard there, and that wasn’t enough to stop that tragedy.

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old showed up for school on Monday, armed with a .22, which his parents had encouraged him to bring for protection. But at recess, he put the gun to a fellow 6th grade student’s head and said he was going to kill her.

Yeah, right. We definitely need more of that.



  1. Duckman wrote:

    Sooner or later the public needs to wake up and realize that they themselves are the problem. Sure guns make it easier to kill, but they don’t do it automatically. McDonalds make it easier to get fat, but if you don’t go there you don’t get fat. You do not give a gun to an 11 year old and have them take it to school. You do not own a weapon if you cannot control your emotions. You cannot put a security guard or a police officer in a school with a 9mm and expect him to stop any person armed with a AR-15. You cannot put a ban on assault weapons and expect them all to just disappear and the problem be solved.

    Let’s face facts. We were born out of a violent revolution. We waged a vicious civil war. We beat down the black community. We devastated countless countries both in war and in economics. We threw the Japanese into camps and we experiment on our own people. Americans are violent people and we always have been.

    The change needs to be within us. You can keep taking away the tools but you are failing to strike at the real problem. A real solution needs to be found, but we all love band aids so much that band aids and real solutions and the same thing in our minds.

    Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  2. ThatGuy wrote:

    There are a lot of countries with violent pasts (more or less every country on earth) that don’t have the gun violence we do. There’s one big difference between us and them: the availability of firearms.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink
  3. ebdoug wrote:

    Without guns, those 20 little children and responsible adults would be alive today. Nothing else except a bomb could do that.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  4. Duckman wrote:

    Vermont and New Hampshire have the lowest firearm homicide rates in the country, yet you dont need a license to buy any gun, minors can possess guns, there are no mental health checks, assault weapons arent banned, you dont have to report your firearm and there are no background checks. They are two of the least restrictive in the country.

    Now Louisiana has roughly the same laws and they have one of the highest firearm homicide rates in the country.

    DC and NY have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, yet Washington and NYC are two of the least safest cities in the country, with crime in Washington over 8 times the national average( not counting the governments crime 😉 ). Arlington VA right right next door to Washington, yet the crime rate is significantly lower, and have less restrictive gun laws.

    Georgia’s firearm homicide rate dropped over 20% when they eased gun laws, while Wisconsins rate rose over 30% when they restricted gun laws. Florida, had a crime rate above the national average, until concealed gun were allowed, now it is way below the national average.

    England’s wonderful gun control laws have been deemed a great model for the US. Yet home invasion, burglary, and robbery have all steadly rose since the laws were enacted and now exceed the US. We still lead in murder and rape, but that lead gets smaller every year. European countries with more guns have lower murder rates than countries with fewer guns:

    Now I’ll say as a disclaimer, I’m not pro gun, I just enjoy playing devils advocate. Gun control laws hurt wisconsin and less laws helped georgia, but I’m sure you could grab evidence of the opposite. There are deeper roots here than just the gun laws themselves. Population density, perceived stress levels (NH and Vermont are viewed as less stressful places, while NYC and Washington are very stressful), and other factors all contribute to the problem and until we look at the multiple phases of the problem and not just one we’ll never solve the problem.

    @Ebdoug: The same day a guy in china injured 20 children with a knife. No, they werent killed, but if you have the time to attack 20 different children he certainly could of killed them if he wanted.

    Phew that was a lot of typing. LET THE DEBATES BEGIN

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  5. Max wrote:

    In some countries, even the police don’t routinely carry guns. If criminals don’t have guns, the police don’t need them either. Somehow that seems more civilized than everyone walking around with a gun.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink
  6. Patricia wrote:

    I go with the major problem being within ourselves. Every time something like this happens, there is impassioned discussion (echoed in the media) followed by a resumption of the status quo until it happens again. I’m beginning to wonder if we need to put anti- paranoic meds into the drinking water supply 🙂 It is exactly true that crowding increases this type of behavior (violence!) At least in rats 🙂

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  7. dave tn wrote:

    The fact that tight gun laws in Washington DC and that gun violence is at a all time high there ignores the fact that only a small distance away in Virginia guns are everywhere due to the lack of restriction. These same guns flow freely into DC like tainted water. This is a red herring used by the NRA, claiming it supports their argument is akin to saying giving sex education to kids causes them to go out and have sex. Although I do agree that banning guns now does not help the problem in the short run because Pandora’s Box has been open for some time and all that evil has been pouring out like a red river of blood and it’s a little late to close the box. This problem will take an approach from many angles, from banning large round clips, requiring licenses, requiring gun owners to have insurance for their weapons (larger amount required for more lethal) , require training on use and PROPER storage, closing gun show loop holes, and requiring mental health checks on those seeking weapons.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  8. Thatguy wrote:

    Duckman makes solid points. I would contend that the relative lack of concentrated poverty and the more hunting culture of NH and VT help a lot too. There are also just a few million people in the state’s combined.

    I would suggest sensible strict and thorough gun laws as opposed to a ban on them all together. Buyback programs are also a good idea.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  9. Duckman wrote:

    @Dave TN: I pointed to the Virginia matter. If people have guns in VA and take them into DC, why dont they just use them in VA?

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  10. wildwood wrote:

    I see no reason anyone should have an automatic or semiautomatic weapon. I see no reason anyone should be allowed to have armor piercing ammunition. I see no reason that clips should be larger than a few rounds. I also see no reason that there should be laws to make it tougher to sell and resell guns and that some sort of background check, mental health check, and insurance should be required. I have to have a license to drive, pays taxes and insurance to own a car. Why not if I own a gun? I think all these are reasonable changes in gun laws. I also think the mental health check should be a recurring event. Just like your vision is checked for your drivers license.

    I am not against all guns, just some guns.

    Putting an armed person in a school is a recipe for disaster. Who is to say that they are stable and trustworthy? Who is to say that after a year roaming the halls looking for bad guys that they wouldn’t need therapy.

    With the thousands of schools in this country, where do we find trained, stable individuals to take on such a boring task without paying them extremely well and probably rotating them in and out to relieve boredom. We probably need two or three in larger schools. What’s the solution when one of them decides to make life more interesting by using their gun? Then we get to the point of the cartoon. Teachers and kids all armed and dangerous. What mayhem.

    I know. We can turn it over to Haliburton or some other corporation. Look how well that has worked in the past. They have all these trained killers on the payroll who will be done in the middle east soon. Look how well it has worked by turning the running of our prisons over to big companies. The possibilities are endless, (for making huge profits anyway).

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  11. Arthanyel wrote:

    I decided to write a letter to all my Congress critters, the editors of my local papers, and several other sources, which follows below.

    The Sandy Hook shooting has ignited a frenzy of propaganda and rhetoric on all sides. I am weary and upset that the gun control discussion is dominated by extremists on both sides. As long as every left wing extremist demonizes every law abiding, sane and competent gun owner, every gun owner will fight back and nothing will happen. As long as every right wing extremist glorifies guns and wants to arm every person to stop gun violence, every rational person including many gun owners will fight back and nothing will happen.

    I beg you and your colleagues to tune out BOTH extremes and focus on what the significant majority of all American – INCLUDING GUN OWNERS – agree on – there are too many uncontrolled guns in the United States, and many people already have guns who should NOT. And that to address these challenges we need the following:

    1) EVERY firearm transaction of EVERY kind, including ammunition purchases, should require at A MINIMUM a background check. That includes gun shows and private transactions.

    2) We need to take as many steps as possible to keep guns and any OTHER dangerous devices out of the hands of people that are criminal, violent, or mentally unstable. My personal recommendation – a national licensing system similar to a driver’s license, requiring proof of competence (mental, physical and judgmental) and proof of liability insurance, with said license required for EVERY transaction.

    3) We need to improve access to mental health treatment and do a better job of identifying and treating people that need it. The best predictor of future violence is a history of violence, not a history of gun ownership.

    4) Require that ALL guns be secured (locked in a safe, with a trigger lock, or any other device that renders them impossible to access) unless they are in active use by the licensed owner.

    5) Recognize that one in a million events like Sandy Hook are virtually impossible to prevent. What we CAN do is drastically reduce the easy availability of guns to dangerous people, take more dangerous people off the streets, and drastically reduce the OTHER gun violence which is eminently addressable. Stopping a lone madman is almost impossible, and a gallon of gasoline properly deployed is more deadly than any “assault weapon”. But every step we can take that does not infringe the rights of law abiding, competent citizens, we MUST take.

    I personally disagree with the focus on “assault weapons” as a solution. Virtually all gun homicides are committed with handguns, and the next most common weapon is a shotgun. Very few incidents involve semi-automatic rifles dressed up to look like military weapons. Real assault weapons are already illegal – and no mass shootings and virtually no shootings of any kind involve automatic weapons because few people have them. And as a gunsmith, I understand that most of the things the media calls “assault weapons” are mechanically no different from hundreds of legal hunting arms.

    As we saw the LAST time there was an “assault weapon” ban, it didn’t stop anyone from getting one. And gun violence after the ban was in place went substantially UP – since the expiration of the last ban, it has been going DOWN. Are the two related? I don’t know – I don’t claim that they are. I only submit that banning “assault weapons” has clearly been proven NOT to reduce gun violence.

    What will make a difference are the steps above – control access to weapons only to law abiding, competent and stable people. Require them to keep their weapons locked down. Make them PERSONALLY responsible, AND LIABLE for what is done with their guns. And make sure that there are no loopholes at gun shows and demand the same for private transactions.

    Because those things will actually help, and a significant majority would support them.

    I am a life member of the NRA, a gunsmith, and a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights – and I am asking you to support major changes to gun control.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  12. Arthanyel wrote:

    And for specific feedback on this thread – the NRA is nuts. As this cartoon suggests, arming teachers and turning schools into prisons is not the naswer.


    1) There are innumerable reasons why gun owners need and want semiautomatic weapons. The majority of uses for guns are better served with semi automatic systems – and for defense purposes, they are clearly superior. In fact, the ONLY application where a a semi automatic is not preferred is long range rifle hunting, because bolt action rifles are more accurate at ranges over 400 yards.

    2) Armor piercing ammunition is already illegal.

    3) Large magazines are really not important. The time it takes to reload any magazine-fed weapon is less than 1 second. In my personal experience, if you practice at all and it takes you longer than 0.5 seconds you are below average. So banning large magazines is a PR stunt, not an effective control

    4) Last and certainly not least, semi automatic rifles with large magazines appear in shootouts 1 time in 5,000, or less. The vast majority of gun violence is with handguns, or shotguns second. Semi automatic rifles with large magazines are mostly owned only by gun enthusiasts who are the least likely to use them to kill innocents, and they are hard to conceal so they are not favored by criminals.

    Other than that we agree – see my post above.

    As for gun laws targeting weapons and opposed to owners or all guns, I think they are just ineffective and misplaced. Drunk drivers kill more children (and adults) than guns. Alcohol serves no legitimate purpose – it is designed to impair judgement, depress the nervous system, and in large quantities is a poison. It is detrimental to health and costs US taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars in medical care.

    And yet no one is demanding we re-instate Prohibition. And when we did have it, it didn’t work. So if you want to significantly reduce the number of drunk drivers, put a breathalyzer in automobiles, or install autodrive systems, or both. Don’t try to outlaw pickup trucks “the preferred weapons of serial drunk drivers.” And if you want to significantly reduce gun violence, put locks on guns and require owners be sane, competent and law abiding – don’t outlaw sporting rifles dressed up to look like military weapons.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  13. Thatguy wrote:

    A very good letter. I hope the congresspeople you wrote to read it and give it the consideration it deserves.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  14. Patriotsgt wrote:

    Well said Arthanyel!

    Monday, December 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  15. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Sorry I’m a bit late on this discussion.

    Art, I do find your take on large magazines to be interesting, and somewhat at odds with my common sense. I actually had a discussion about this over the holidays.

    I think limiting magazine sizes is a good place to start. My reasoning is simply that once locked-and-loaded, a shooter’s failure rate is limited only to the capabilities of the weapon.

    I don’t find your argument about time to be very convincing because:

    1. It assumes that the shooter has had a lot of training, vs someone who has just grabbed a gun from somewhere. Heck my wife had several range sessions with me a couple of years ago but today can’t even figure out how to load my pistol, let alone change a magazine.
    2. It assumes that the shooter is as capable of swapping magazines during an actual firefight than they are at the range. I believe this is a very important distinction because swapping magazines in a no-stress situation requires little training, while just firing a gun accurately in a high-stress situation requires a lot. However, I’m also aware that a mentally deranged person might find a firefight to not be a stressful event.

    I believe, though I can’t locate at this moment, that a shooting at a mall stopped only when the shooter attempted to reload and had a problem with it.

    To your point regarding high capacity rifles vs handguns, my pistol is a 19+1. Locked and loaded I could potentially kill or wound 20 people before needing to even stop for any reason.

    My take on it is it would be much more difficult for a shooter with a 5 round clip to effectively fire 30 rounds than one with a 30 round clip in a real-life scenario.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  16. Arthanyel wrote:

    1032 – you raise some good points. Here are my thoughts on the high capaci magazine issue:

    1) crazy violent people that perform mass shootings almost always have been practicing for a long time, and in most cases have even told people what they plan to do. So I believe you should assume anyone willing to do a mass shooting has practiced.

    2) your point about changing magazines under pressure (even with some practice) is more difficult. The question that is missing in what is pressure? Unarmed people running away from you is not stressful. Armed people shooting at you is stressful. Changing magazines while in combat against another shooter is definitely a handicap, which is why combat weapons have large magazines.

    And so I don’t believe it would significantly impact a mass shooter. Or, more exactly, I think (like being forced to take my shoes off at the airport because one person once tried a shoe bomb that didn’t even work) that placing limits and problems onto millions of lawful gun owners trying to make a theoretical marginal impact on a couple of insane people is not the right strategy.

    Actually the mall shooting in Oregon was impacted by the presence of an armed civilian. That slowed him down and stopped the shooting and helpless people, and when he was reloading there was a moment to get him. That would not be true if your targets are children.

    So, in summary, you make good points and making sure that dangerous weapons and equipment are restricted to lawful, competent and sane people is good. But for all the reasons above, my combat weapons have large magazines because as the defender, I EXPECT that any time I am in combat I am up against multiple armed assailants. And the last thing I want to do is make it HARDER for me to survive the experience.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  17. Arthanyel wrote:

    I should also note that as a civilian I have been involved in one such event, and attended the funerals of three friends that were not as lucky (and were unarmed). Only one of the three was shot. And fortunately, in my case, the two assailants were not expecting an armed and competent defender and as a result I was able to secure them until the police arrived without anyone being injured.

    It only takes one or two such situations to convince most people they want to be able to defend themselves. UNFORTUNATELY most people that buy guns do not invest the time and attention to actually know what they are doing. And an incompetent gun owner without training, and with unsecured weapons, is more dangerous to himself and his family to any possible assailant.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  18. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I still have to disagree with your assessment overall:

    “Loughner allegedly proceeded to fire apparently randomly at other members of the crowd.[2][20] The weapon used was reported to be a 9mm Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol with a 33-round magazine.[21][22] A nearby store employee said he heard “15 to 20 gunshots”.[23] Loughner stopped to reload, but dropped the loaded magazine from his pocket to the sidewalk, from where bystander Patricia Maisch grabbed it.”

    Do you agree that in this case, had Jared Loughner had a 50 round magazine, that he would have been able to fire his weapon for a longer length of time?

    I believe that for a person who is not totally psychotic, shooting at real live people would be a stressful event whether they were shooting back or not.

    I also note that, even though it isn’t quite what you are saying (not going for a strawman, just making a point), it isn’t possible that reduced magazine sizes would do nothing to deter the power of an armed killer, but completely undermine the ability of an armed defender.

    I do understand the idea behind disarming law abiding citizens in order to affect non-law abiding citizens is non-sensical. This is one of my biggest struggles with the idea of gun control. But I feel like this is one sensible starting place for it.

    Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink
  19. Arthanyel wrote:

    1032 – There are clearly a couple of examples where the attacker had a large magazine and may have been slowed down if he was restricted to smaller magazines. I just don’t find those examples compelling in comparison to the equal (or larger) number of examples where it didn’t matter, or it favored the defender.

    We hadn’t discussed the Loughner shooting, and it is interesting to note the extended magazine he used there isn’t even designed for the original weapon and THAT MAGAZINE has no civilian use as it makes the gun much more difficult to use. I would be OK with banning magazines larger than 30 rounds, because there is no civilian weapon designed to use one that is larger – they are all aftermarket expansions.

    All that said, my core issue is that you can draw any line through a single data point. It takes two data points to define a line, three to define a curve, and many data points to define a trend. And for every statistical outlier that can be used to make a point (like Loughner’s 33 round pistol magazine) there is at least one that proves the opposite – this one, ALSO from Tuscon:

    And even among mass shootings, it doesn’t hold up. The Virginia tech massacre (largest mass shooting in history) and the Fort Hood attach (third largest) the weapons used did not have extended magazines. The shooters used normal magazines and just changed clips as often as needed.

    To your direct question – I agree that larger magazines make it possible to fire for a longer time before reloading. I don’t agree that it would make any significant difference in more than 99% of the cases.

    In your 5th sentence – only totally psychotic people shoot at real live people unless they are defending themselves, so the point is moot. If your target is to slow down mass shooters, they aren’t stressed by committing the very crime they have been planning for months.

    In the next sentence I am having trouble parsing. My point is that reducing magazine sizes to an arbitrary number make significant impacts on lawful owners, and little or no impact (possibly no impact at all) on mass shootings, and therefore I don’t agree with the approach of banning magazines – or specific makes and models of guns.

    What we CAN do however is actually make our theoretical laws work and add one more. If we just required that all gun transactions (private, gun show or store) of ANY KIND(gun purchase or ammunition purchase) required a background check or a valid license, we would reduce the number of people getting guns and ammo that might kill innocents. If we expanded the background check or licensing system to include medical flags for people with mental illness that may be violent, that would reduce it more. If we required all guns to be locked up unless actively in use (and yes, having a gun currently available for self defense is actively in use) that would both reduce the number of uncontrolled guns AND reduce the number of accidental shootings. And if we required gun owners to pass basic safety tests including how to secure their weapons, we would reduce the number of accidental shootings and reduce the total number of uncontrolled weapons floating around.

    So I suggest we do those things, not go after “assault weapons” and 20 round magazines because it is not going to help and only hurts the lawful owners.

    Friday, December 28, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink