A tiny Texas school district will allow teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting employees follow certain requirements.

The small community of Harrold in north Texas is a 30-minute drive from the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Office, leaving students and teachers without protection, said David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District. The lone campus of the 110-student district sits near a heavily traveled highway, which could make it a target, he argued.

“When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that’s when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can’t defend themselves? That’s like saying ‘sic ‘em’ to a dog,” Thweatt said in a story published Friday on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Web site.

i-14c63c8c90b559ad19eb5029d1a84a81-07__columbine_high_school_massacre.jpg

Damn straight, Bubba!!! Ain’t no commie psycho’s gonna mess with Texas!

UPDATE:

Imagine you’re in History class, dozing off as Mr. Gagliano yaps on about Ghandi and the British East India Company. But while he scratches away at the chalkboard, he’s got a shiny 57 magnum resting in his desk. Just in case.

Would you be OK with your teacher keeping a gun in the classroom? Wisconsin state Congressman Frank Lasee is.

In response to recent school violence, he introduced a bill into his state legislature allowing school officials to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

His plan looks likely to fail before becoming law, but so begins the flood of proposals that inevitably follows any wave of school violence.

source

The above quote dates to October, 2006. Now, I know many of you hate to be informed of things that are more than 24 hours old, but I thought it appropriate that it is not really fair to say “Texans = Morons” … unless we add “Wisconsinites … you’all elected a moron to your state house!

Trustees approved the policy change last year, and it takes effect when classes begin this month. For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, must be authorized to carry by the district, must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

Well, hell, every single soul in Texas got that shit! Yehaw!!!!!

It isn’t clear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall, because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers.

Fear!!! Fear!!!!!

(story at CNN … hattip Lou)

11,127, you fuckers.

Comments

  1. #1 radigarius
    August 16, 2008

    Imagine that many years ago, in response to the fellow who parachuted from a commercial plane with stolen money, that the national response had been to request that members or ex-members of the police and military and other qualified people carry handguns on airplanes. We would have had no more hijackings, none of the years of hassle leading to the current TSA clownship.

    Nice to see those folks in Texas getting real…..

  2. #2 Lorne
    August 16, 2008

    So, what I learned from the video is that Americans are a bunch of meddlesome buggers who the rest of the world could do without. And, gun deaths are apparently the most accurate measure of violence in a society. I guess if I beat my wife and knife my neighbour that’s not so bad then?

  3. #3 KillerChihuahua
    August 16, 2008

    That’s just wrong on so many levels, I cannot begin to cover it.

    Re radigarius: that hijacking is famous primarily because not only was no one harmed, unlike every other hijacking, no one was arrested. This is almost certainly because Cooper plummeted to his death and was unavailable for arrest. Please also note that police carrying firearms is fundamentally unlike teachers being armed in school, eh? Apples and oranges.

    *sigh*

  4. #4 JThompson
    August 16, 2008

    I give it a month before some ‘weird’ kid pulls out a calculator and a teacher shoots him for having a gun.

    I’ve been shooting pistols my entire life and I’m a damned good shot. I cringe at the thought of having to fire down a hallway full of panicked kids.
    Even if a teacher does whip out a gun in a school shooting situation, the amount of chaos happening around them will make it far more likely they’ll hit random innocent people than the actual shooter.
    They’ll be pouring gasoline on a fire to try and smother it.

    I wonder if the teacher that kills six people standing behind the shooter will get as much press as the student shooting other students. I wouldn’t bet on it.

  5. #5 Michael A. Butler
    August 16, 2008

    God Bless Texas! Finally a school district that got it right!

  6. #6 David Harris
    August 16, 2008

    Way to go Texas!!!! Its about time that government understands it can’t protect us or our kids from every bad guy out there and if you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have them.

    While I understand some peoples uneasiness over this, think about this, the police are 30 minutes away from the school. Would you want your kid unprotected from a gunman for 30 minutes?

    The problem in today’s society is that people rely too much on the government to “PROTECT” them, and the SCOTUS has said time and time again, that the police are NOT responsible for our safety. So what if it takes them 3 hours to show up in a shooting death, or a rape? They aren’t liable. The only one who can protect you (besides God himself) is yourself.

    Think about that before you start spouting off about teachers being armed.

  7. #7 Rick
    August 16, 2008

    It is worth a try. So far the opportunity has not presented itself yet. Now maybe it will. But this is too small a school to matter, most likely.

  8. #8 Timothy J
    August 16, 2008

    This is not a question of what teachers could do in a shooting instance. It is a matter of what is right and wrong. Arming teachers is wrong.

  9. #9 vitale
    August 16, 2008

    God Bless Texas!

    Isn’t there some loophole or technicality we can use to put Texas back into Mexico?

  10. #10 KillerChihuahua
    August 16, 2008

    I’d rather have my kid “unprotected from a gunman” than invite some 50 untrained crackers to be gunmen on the spot. Or to put it another way: given the choice of a very slim possibility of a gunman in the school and ensuring there are lots of guns in the school, I choose the slim chance.

    also, what is this nonsense about God protecting people? That isn’t his job, either. God protects no one.

  11. #11 xavier
    August 16, 2008

    But seriously … forget the guns, but tasers would work. They would have a broader range of uses as well. Homework would get done. Spit balls would not get thrown.

  12. #12 petier
    August 16, 2008

    “Arming teachers is wrong.”

    Right! Arm the Bus Drivers! Much easier to contain the mess.

  13. #13 horace
    August 16, 2008

    I have yet to hear of a case of an armed citizen in a public place stopping a killing spree with a gun she or he is packing.

  14. #14 penn
    August 16, 2008

    Does it seem weird that conservatives want to go back to wild west law enforcement as if the wild west wasn’t violent and crime-ridden.

    If you are that worried about the distance to the school why not post a police officer at the school. I generally support teachers. They have a tough job, but there are a lot of teachers who certainly shouldn’t be wielding guns around children.

  15. #15 horace
    August 16, 2008

    I know many teachers and I doubt any of them would carry a gun into their school even if asked to do so. It will be interesting to see if these Texas teachers pack or not.

  16. #16 Timothy J
    August 16, 2008

    Penn: You assume that conservatives are interested in reducing violence.

  17. #17 Elizabeth
    August 16, 2008

    I like the pun in the title.

  18. #18 penn
    August 16, 2008

    Tim, I’m taking them at their word that the only way to reduce gun violence is the threat of more gun violence. This also blatantly ignores that fact that these shooters generally expect/want to die during their attacks. The threat of more guns may make it seem more exciting. They may get to generate more chaos.

    In the end I think a stronger mental health infrastructure and more social services would help more than arming everyone. Someone losing their job shouldn’t become so desperate that they going on a suicidal shooting rampage.

  19. #19 petier
    August 16, 2008

    put Texas back into Mexico?

    What have you got against our friendly neighbors to the south?

  20. #20 decrepitoldfool
    August 16, 2008

    Texas was dumb enough, on average, to believe that pansy East-coast frat boy GWB was “one of them”.

    What the gun-solution advocates are overlooking here is that school shootings are vanishingly rare, even in ‘murika. At least, so far. Teachers are not a special class of unusually virtuous people. Give enough of them guns, and sooner or later you’ll get an armed angry nut in a classroom, only he’ll be taking attendance.

  21. #21 Will
    August 16, 2008

    What makes people think that “one size fits all” when applying the law is a good idea? Outlawing guns in urban districts makes a lot of sense, but in these more remote locations, perhaps there isn’t such a cut-and-dry answer to the problem.

    When you think of just one teacher having a gun in a school, it seems like a bad idea. But there would be 50 teachers with guns, each trained and qualified to use them. I think that would be much more intimidating and aversive to any potential gunmen.

    But, then again, what happens when a teacher has enough from little Billy in the back, who just won’t shut the hell up? There are going to be unforeseen side effects of this implementation, like teachers going crazy or – even worse – stifling an academic environment that is supposed to encourage individuality rather than oppress it.

  22. #22 chancelikely
    August 16, 2008

    Too bad they didn’t allow guns in Mt. Vernon Middle School in Ohio – Mr. Freshwater could have given kids a firearm stigmata.

  23. #23 Steve P.
    August 16, 2008

    Here we go again. One tiny school district out of hundreds does something crazy, and all us Texans get blamed for it.

    Texas : U.S. :: U.S. : World . Its citizens are stereotyped as backward rednecks while its government puts on a freakshow.

    Maybe y’all should come here and meet some Texans (not the GW Bush fake Texans)?

    Maybe “Forget all the arguments for it, teachers with guns is wrong, QED” is about as mindless as saying “Goddidit”.

    For the record, I’m an atheist Ph.D. student who has never touched a gun in his life, despite having lived predominantly in two of the biggest gun-wielding red states we’ve got.

    To those of you who have presented good arguments, thank you.

    Back in 1966, a US Marine sharpshooter named Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower at my university and killed about 15 people. In those days, professors had guns in their offices. Many shot back at Whitman, and it’s believed they kept him from killing quite a few people, since it took over an hour for police to reach him. The mere fact that some professors had guns in their offices in those days says a lot about how we’ve changed in the past 40 years.

    Finally, regarding the video, how many of those 11,127 murders were committed by people with a “legal” gun? We’ve certainly got a bunch of criminals with guns. No one thinks this is a great situation. It seems to be just a matter of whether you believe taking away guns for the rest of us will solve this problem.

  24. #24 Bob
    August 16, 2008

    Must I lay the smackdown on you yet again Mr. Laden?

    Texas is a large state and as such you’d expect the Gaussian tails to trail on a little further than other places. And yes, Texas has its share troubles (Don McLeroy, James Leininger, Bob Perry, John Hagee) but tarring the whole state because of a few idgits in some dust bowl town within spitting distance of Oklahoma is not helpful.

    My guess is that it’s just some reactionary stunt, though you never know what kind of problems they have up there (meth + boredom + ???) I’d prefer the teachers spent their time actually teaching kids and maybe learning to disarm and immobilize hypothetical K-12 gunslingers without resorting to firearms. The problem is redneck rural yahoos regardless of state or country. I’m sure Minnesota has its share – they just don’t get the press Texas does because they don’t fit the meme.

  25. #25 Will TS
    August 16, 2008

    What makes people believe that the only useful employment of a handgun is self defense and stopping mass murderers?

    When I was in high school, a well-respected elder teacher got fed up with the disruptions of a student in his class and beat the kid into unconsciousness with his cane. A week later the kid was back in school, probably disrupting other classes. Think of all the subsequent troubles that could have been avoided if the teacher had been carrying a gun.

  26. #26 greg laden
    August 16, 2008

    Hey, Bob, how’s it going? Man, it took you long enough to get here!!!!

    Well, now that you point out that this town is so close to OK, that kinda explains it….

    But seriously, you should know that Minnesota is the state that elected a governor who, moments after being sworn in (seemingly), proposed that teacher carry guns to avoid school shootings. Now, the fact is that the rest of us shouted him down so fast and strong that he actually publicly changed his mind (it helped that his lt. gov. was a teacher who slapped him down over this proposal). I don’t know if Texans are reacting appropriately (aghast, embarrassed, etc.) or not, but the fact remains that not only did MN elect such a governor, we would probably have elected him as our senator had he decided to run this year against Coleman and Franken.

    Doesn’t mean Texans aren’t morons. The fact that we are morons does not absolve you!

  27. #27 decrepitoldfool
    August 16, 2008

    Maybe y’all should come here and meet some Texans (not the GW Bush fake Texans)?

    “No true Texan?” Hey, your state elected him governor. Twice. He rode a budget surplus into office and implemented tax cuts for the rich.

    (Note… this line of reasoning does not bode well for Americans generally. In defense of our nation, it is not certain that we actually did elect him president. But there is no doubt about the Texas elections.)

  28. #28 jim
    August 16, 2008

    Horace,
    There was a recent incident in a Colorado area church where a civilian did end a shooting spree. So maybe you have not heard of an incident where a public citizen ended a shooting spree in a public place, but it made national news in the US.

    Personally, I have mixed feelings on arming people. I like shooting at paper targets. It is a lot of fun. I have no desire to own a weapon or aim a weapon at anyone. I would have a very difficult time aiming a weapon with the intent to kill even in a clear case of self defense.

  29. #29 Ski
    August 16, 2008

    Hasn’t that ignorant school district board now increased the odds that someone will be shot in their school? I hope some statistician will calculate the odds of a school shooting in that district both before and after this wacko decision and publicize the results.

  30. #30 horace
    August 16, 2008

    The only case in Colorado that I have heard of involved a security guard who was armed, not a private citizen. Not really the same.

  31. #31 Alien
    August 16, 2008

    The case in Colorado was a private citizen working security at the church. ‘Security guard’ usually does apply to private citizens acting in a non-governmental capacity.

    Regarding training, all concealed handgun licensees in Texas must go through a course and test. The test includes knowledge of applicable laws, anger management, non-violent management of situations, and the application of possible lethal force only when life or limb are immediately threatened. A shooting test is also required in which the individual must shoot accurately enough to pass. Applicants must not be felons nor may they have had any recent Class A or B misdemeanors. People with a history of family/domestic violence are also prohibited from concealed carry.

    The teachers in the school, in order to comply with state law, must have a valid CHL obtained as above and get written permission from the school district in order to carry on campus.

    As a result, it is not going to be a bunch of untrained vigilante yahoo teachers packing heat to keep kids in line. Saying such is just a bunch of unnecessary alarmism. Kinda like ‘OMG the Mexicans are getting all the jobs that belong to us Americans’, or ‘Holy Bat Particles, Batman, the LHC is gonna make a black hole and we gonna die in sudden worldwide suckage!’

    Teachers may not be an especially virtuous class of people through the whole set, but neither are police officers, firefighters, scientists, pastors, doctors, etc. The only group of people that I can think of that is total virtuous is the ‘set of virtuous people’. I will leave it to you to argue how big that set is. Nevertheless, I think people should have a right to protect themselves from a threat to their life. Taking away a right because someone might ‘do wrong’ is no different than taking away the freedom of speech because someone ‘could do slander’.

  32. #32 horace
    August 16, 2008

    As I said, the Colorado incident was NOT a case of a private citizen who happened to be in the vicinity and who happen to be packing under the assumption that he might run into a criminal. He was (they were, if I remember correctly) security guards who were packing semi-unofficially. That simply does not count.

    If the training everyone gets is so good, why are 11 thousand people shot to death per year in this country? Someone has dropped the ball on this one, and there is no doubt about that. Please don’t tell me that everything is fine.

  33. #33 Feynmaniac
    August 16, 2008

    The clip is a bit disingenuous since all the countries Moore lists have a smaller population than the US. It would have been better to list the ratio of murders by guns to the population. If this is done (assuming the numbers Moore provided is accurate) than the US has a rate of 36.6 murders per million people. Germany finishes second with 4.8 muders per million people. So the US still finishes alot higher.

    Now, the US has 83-96 guns per 100 people. France, Canada and Germany each have about 30 guns per 100 people. I don’t think it’s shocking to suggest that less guns means less death by guns.

  34. #34 Andrew
    August 16, 2008

    Actually, Moore does not conclude that fewer guns = fewer gun deaths IIRC.

  35. #35 Doug
    August 16, 2008

    Christians have been killing each other for hundreds of years, it seems impossible to stop them. Just put up a fence around Texas and let them do unto each other. When they are done the rest of us can live a civilized life.

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?
    August 16, 2008

    think about this, the police are 30 minutes away from the school.

    This is a scandal.

    This is a fucking scandal.

    What for are you Americans paying taxes when your police doesn’t come within 5 minutes?

    Hire and train more police. Lots more police. Hey, what could it cost? Half a day of Iraq occupation?

  37. #37 Greg Laden
    August 16, 2008

    I doubt the police are 30 minutes away from the school.

  38. #38 Alien
    August 16, 2008

    Horace,
    Quoting that 11 thousand people are shot each year hardly makes an argument one way or the other. Maybe it’s police doing all the shooting and if we just disarm them we will all be safe.

    Really, I imagine that many if not the vast majority of those deaths are unlawful deaths. I did not claim that everyone who owns a gun has had any sort of training. I was addressing the concern regarding the school and was pointing out that the only teachers who will be allowed to carry are people who have had training. CHL holders are less likely than the general population to commit most crimes.

    http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/ConvictionRatesReport2006.pdf points to the official DPS records of total crime counts and crime counts of CHL holders. Approximately 1% of the population of Texas is a CHL holder ( http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/PDF/ActLicAndInstr/ActiveLicandInstr2006.pdf points to the DPS counts of licensees – 258,162 for those who don’t wish to click, and Texas has a population of almost 25 million – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas ).

    Looking at the first link, you will see that the only crimes committed by CHL holders at rates of over 1% all have a count of 1 CHL holder committing the offense (with one exception I will get to in a second). I seriously doubt that with those numbers that the single case in each of these categories is of any statistical significance. The one crime that falls outside of these parameters is ‘unlawful carry of a handgun by a licensed holder’ – this crime applies only to individuals who are licensed by the state (some of which will be CHL holders, others may be law enforcement or allowed by law to carry a handgun under another statute). The general population CAN’T be charged with this crime.

    If I wanted to make a joke that I thought would not be taken as a serious statement, I might claim that everyone should get a Concealed Handgun License as it would reduce crime. However, I think the more reasonable conclusion is that CHL holders are a selected group – general responsible people + the fact that known criminals are excluded.

    So, in conclusion, don’t worry, Horace. Everything is fine.

  39. #39 deang
    August 16, 2008

    And the American tendency to just make up things to support whatever assinine thing they want to do shows itself again:

    When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that’s when all of these shootings started.

    No evidence for that whatsoever. The guy who said it probably can’t even give a general idea of when the wave of shootings started. He just “feels in his gut” that it’s gotten worse because there aren’t guns in schools, so he comes up with a “fact”, probably learned on one of the immensely popular right-wing radio or TV programs so many Americans are devoted to.

    I agree with the comment above that the world could do without Americans because of stuff like this.

  40. #40 decrepitoldfool
    August 16, 2008

    Teachers may not be an especially virtuous class of people through the whole set, but neither are police officers, firefighters, scientists, pastors, doctors, etc.

    Indeed, our county just put a police officer in prison for multiple stalkings and rapes at gunpoint. In the years I have lived here we’ve seen a retarded man gunned down (he forgot to pay for gas), a distraught man shot holding a knife (no mace was used and the police were never in danger), a drunk student shot through the side window of his pickup (the officer claimed the student was trying to run him down. I wasn’t aware pickup trucks could roll sideways from a standing stop), a man perished in a hail of bullets outside a grade school a few blocks from my house. A little further north a man was swinging a crutch in a threatening manner, gunned down.

    And our county is typical. Actually, our police are good guys, but even they get heated up and wind up having to “explain” why they shot some guy, often without first using less-deadly force.

    The news media loves school shootings, but they are extremely rare, and should be put in perspective to other causes of death in schools that receive less press attention.

  41. #41 Ace of Sevens
    August 16, 2008

    Once you start arming teachers for the express purpose of shooting students, the school has ceased being a school and started being a prison. While a gun would be handy to stop a school shooting, those are incredibly rare, depite the hype. Also, most school shooters are looking to die. It’s not like they are shooting up schools for profit. Therefore, detterance will not work. The best you can hope for is lowering the bodycount. If you implemented this nationwide, I can’t imagine saving more than or two lives a year even if all teh teachers had guns due to the relative rarity of the event you’re trying to prevent. When you have a million or so teachers with guns, how many accidents do you think there will be? It seems to me the chances of a teacher accidentally shooting a kid are far higher than stopping an actual school shooting, therefore this sort of policy would lead to more people being killed.

  42. #42 Horace
    August 16, 2008

    Alien:

    Several years ago my brother was shot to death in a robbery. He had a firearm behind the counter. The firearm that was used to kill him was legally purchased and owned by a person with training and a permit. But that person’s house was robbed (while the person was there, as it turns out).

    The firearm my brother had, and had training for, and that was legal, did not help him, and the firearm that killed him entered the system legally and appropriately according to the way things are normally done.

    Don’t worry. That was a long time ago and I am as over it as one gets, I think, so your foolishness does not bother me. But it is nothing other than foolishness. If we keep adding guns into the mix, there will be more guns, and the more guns there are, the more killing with guns will happen. That is all we need to know.

  43. #43 Alien
    August 16, 2008

    Horace,

    I am sorry for your loss. However, I don’t believe the problem is with guns, per se, but rather with violence and the fact that some people have no respect for others. Even if there were no such things as guns, there would be swords. If not swords, then clubs. If nothing, we would still have teeth, nails, and fists and the weak would be subject to the whims of the strong (not that isn’t true on some level even now). If people followed laws, then a law such as “No person shall cause harm to come to another person” would suffice.

    But people don’t always follow the law, and technology, such as weapons, won’t disappear just because we want them to and have everyone live in peace. Please don’t think that I _want_ people to come to harm and as such support a right to self-defense. Rather, should the unfortunate situation arise where someone broke into my house (or otherwise came upon me and my) and wished to do harm to us, I would want an effective means of defense. Some people aren’t fortunate enough to have superb physical prowess and, frankly, I would stand little chance in a hand-to-hand fight with someone.

  44. #44 Ace of Sevens
    August 16, 2008

    @Alien: The issue is the relative ease of killing and emotional distance guns allow. There’s a reason countries without guns rarely have slashing sprees.

  45. #45 daedalus2u
    August 16, 2008

    I predict there will be only one incident where a teacher fires a gun in a school and hits someone.

    The legal liability that will cause on the teacher, the principal, the school distric and the municipality where it is located will so increase taxes to pay for it that the voters will revolt and make schools gun-free.

    It might even happen sooner, when the insurance companies increase liability rates for schools and municipalities that allow teachers to carry guns.

    But it being Texas, it will probably be one incident per school.

  46. #46 greg laden
    August 16, 2008

    Clearly, we would ignore the fact that guns are a superior killing technology and the lack of spatial and temporal distance they provide between rationality/emotion and action and so on at our peril. A gun lover who is also in denial (or evil, or stupid) can make this argument as many times as they wish. The rest of us simply know it is wrong.

    daedalus2u: Indeed. What the gun nuts very rarely mention (in fact, never ever mention) is that when you take the NRA course or other similar training, you get a pamphlet suggesting the levels of liability insurance you should have if you plan to carry. This sobering link to reality is usually ignored when the arguments are being made.

  47. #47 Alien
    August 16, 2008

    @Greg:
    “Clearly, we would ignore the fact that guns are a superior killing technology and the lack of spatial and temporal distance they provide between rationality/emotion and action and so on at our peril.”

    I think this is a big part of the problem of pro-gun vs. anti-gun arguing. Clearly, guns ARE the superior killing technology. This may be oversimplifying, but I think pro-gun people want to be able to match firepower with someone who would do them harm. The risk is, what happens when the ‘good guys’ screw up or someone gets the gun that shouldn’t have it. On the other hand, the anti-gun people think that there would be fewer deaths if there just weren’t any guns (clearly someone intent on doing harm could just turn to an axe or knife, but your point is people who have a sudden impulse to do harm are less likely to kill in a split second with a knife than they would be with a gun, the superior weapon). The weakness in the no-gun solution though is for people who wish to do others harm and will plan for it. The rash decision makers may be thwarted, but the planners are helped. A planner can obtain a product such as a gun even if it is illegal (doubters should note the ease of obtaining recreational drugs despite their illegality). Then what are you going to do if they come after you? Tell them that their gun is illegal and you are gonna call the police in the split second before they shoot you? Pull out your baseball bat, which is still legal? I don’t think so.

    As an aside, in rational arguments, loaded words (e.g. ‘gun nuts’,'gun banners’,'abortionists’,'Darwinists’) subvert logic by trying to persuade listeners in a non-rational manner. I think more neutral phrases (e.g. pro-gun/anti-gun) are more intellectual honest and don’t automatically impugn people who honestly hold a different opinion (as opposed to hypocrites such as Larry Craig or Eliot Spitzer who deserve our scorn).

    Finally, as someone who works in the medical field. I would like to point out that we were trained in liability issues, too. Perhaps we should outlaw medicine… Liability insurance simply recognizes a risk one may get sued, though as you astutely alluded it indicates a danger (in this case with guns). If you ever find someone pro-gun or anti-gun that thinks guns AREN’T dangerous, then you have met a liar or a fool.

  48. #48 Bob
    August 17, 2008

    A good friend of mine introduced me to an interesting conundrum regarding school violence, bullying, and weapons. If you had the genetic and environmental background to make you a big dumb violent kid who tended to brutalize those smaller and weaker than you, you tended to get in a lot less trouble than the smaller, weaker kids who figured out how to level the ‘playing’ field by defending themselves with a weapon. Ostensibly, being armed made it an ‘unfair’ fight as if it was some kind of goddamn game.

    Compulsory education puts those who have no desire or aptitude for it into a nice fishbowl where boredom, brawn, and status games devolve into a culture of acceptable violence, refereed by teachers and administrators. As long as it’s only fisticuffs and cattiness, it’s acceptable. Everyone eventually drops out or graduates – the geeks nurse their wounds and fly off to college, the goons get jobs at the mill or the police force or go to prison, the remainder get jobs in real estate or politics. That’s the common wisdom which is by no means wise.

    Really, the handgun angle is another weak canard – the real issue is finding the cultural (or possibly genetic) root to violence. How much of a right should education be? Should education be segmented earlier to avoid internecine conflict? There are strong issues of culture and class at work, questions of egalitarianism and elitism, etc. that are far deeper than the Nixon-era meme of gun control. Guns don’t make people violent any more than porn makes men rapists or contraception makes women promiscuous, but guns certainly do let people express their violence far more efficiently and effectively, and conveniently for geeks, they do so at a distance.

    I’d like to see some effort put toward understanding the roles of parenting, Western religion, and the social model of the modern classroom on school function and student behavior with an eye toward making the experience positive, safe, and educational for everyone involved. The handwringing weepfest over guns is tiresome; stats show that school shootings have been declining for years even though reporting of them has risen dramatically. The problem is setting up an environment where choosing violence as a common and approved (tacitly, and only within certain bounds) means of conflict resolution. Solve that and your gun problem is reduced to the mentally unbalanced (cf. the VATech shooter.)

    That’s a hard problem to solve and besides, it’s easier to score some cheap points blaming guns for the problem, as if nobody was murdered in the pre-handgun era (hell, with the lack of guns, you’d think that prison life would read like a McGuffey Reader…)

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually on your side. Guns don’t belong in a school unless carried by a peace officer. As I’ve explained before, bashing Texans and blaming guns for all the evil in the world makes good blog fodder but it doesn’t move us towards a solution. Can we try to find that solution without the geographical ad hominems?

  49. #49 Noadi
    August 17, 2008

    Now my town’s high school is small, only 600 or so students from 6th grade through high school. It has a police officer, armed as a police officer is expected to be, and I don’t think people are too uncomfortable with that. That is a reasonable response, not arming the teachers for an event which most likely will never happen.

    Instead, they think scaring the crap out of students and making them feel more like prisoners than many schools already do with metal detectors, bag searches, etc.

  50. #50 Alexandra
    August 17, 2008

    Even if there were no such things as guns, there would be swords. If not swords, then clubs. If nothing, we would still have teeth, nails, and fists and the weak would be subject to the whims of the strong

    Odd how you never hear about someone going on a school killing spree with their fingernails, eh? While it is true that there are many other weapons, none comes close to the lethality of a firearm, which is why we no longer send troops into combat with swords, or clubs.

  51. #51 MartinM
    August 17, 2008

    Taking away a right because someone might ‘do wrong’ is no different than taking away the freedom of speech because someone ‘could do slander’.

    On the contrary, that’s precisely the justification for limiting one’s property rights to exclude, say, nuclear warheads. Indeed, most people would consider that fairly obvious when talking about almost any form of lethal weaponry. It’s only when you get certain Americans talking about guns that it mysteriously ceases to apply.

  52. #52 Zed
    August 17, 2008

    Back in the 70′s when I was in Jr High and High School here in Austin, Texas the hall monitors carried pistols. They never killed anybody but students would occasionally do so. Fear, fear indeed.
    That a rural school would have armed teachers is little different than urban schools who have armed police on site on many occasions.

  53. #53 MartinM
    August 17, 2008

    Looking at the first link, you will see that the only crimes committed by CHL holders at rates of over 1% all have a count of 1 CHL holder committing the offense (with one exception I will get to in a second). I seriously doubt that with those numbers that the single case in each of these categories is of any statistical significance. The one crime that falls outside of these parameters is ‘unlawful carry of a handgun by a licensed holder’ – this crime applies only to individuals who are licensed by the state (some of which will be CHL holders, others may be law enforcement or allowed by law to carry a handgun under another statute). The general population CAN’T be charged with this crime.

    And yet apparently they were! According to the figures, there were 22 convictions in Texas, and only 10 of those were of CHL holders. From the document:

    “Total Convictions in Texas” includes all convictions reported to the state criminal history repository for the offense during the calendar year for individuals age 21 or over. CCH Conviction counts based on CDN codes 310, 311, 326, 331, 332, 334, 397, and 398.
    “Convictions of CHL Holders” includes any conviction reported to the Concealed Handgun Licensing Bureau for which the convicted individual held a license to carry a concealed handgun at the time the offense was committed.

    The obvious explanation of the discrepancy is that not all convictions reported to the state criminal history repository were also reported to the Concealed Handgun Licensing Bureau – but if that’s the case, then the two sets of figures can’t be legitimately compared.

  54. #54 Greg Laden
    August 17, 2008

    The risk is, what happens when the ‘good guys’ screw up or someone gets the gun that shouldn’t have it.

    In the area of violent crimes of passion, YOU CAN’T TELL WHO THE GOOD GUYS AND THE BAD GUYS ARE. Sorry for shouting. You cannot say in advance who, once armed, will use a handgun or other firearm to kill another person.

    As an aside, in rational arguments, loaded words (e.g. ‘gun nuts’,'gun banners’,'abortionists’,'Darwinists’) subvert logic by trying to persuade listeners in a non-rational manner. I think more neutral phrases (e.g. pro-gun/anti-gun) are more intellectual honest

    You know, honestly, a lot of my friends are gun owners and gun users, I respect the whole idea, and I would respect gun ownership if it were not for the denialist gun nuts who have ruined it for everyone.

    Gun. Nuts.

    Bob: I don’t blame guns any more than I blame land mines for dismembering children in Angola. But where there is a material thing related to a habitual or serious crime, we do regulate (always) the thing. We dont say to teenagers with cars “oh, you can drive around in the car with an open half full bottle of Jack Daniels. Just don’t drink from it..” Gun laws are like open container laws. We don’t say to industry “As long as you don’t WANT to dump the chemicals in the river, and don’t actually do it on PURPOSE, you can put the chemicals wherever you want. Gun laws are like safety and environmental regulations.

    Yes, an overall social cure IS what is needed. And part of that is having a society in which we don’t fetishize gun ownership as the kind of god-given fundamental act of patriotism and family values that is seems to be. Rather, we should fetishize guns as the EXTRAORDINARILY DANGEROUS OBJECTS that they are, and promote and respect non-violent dialog and confrontations.

    If the trope “Everyone has a right to have the best gun they can afford to match the gun some bad guy might have” then you are supporting a culture of violence. That is the problem, that is the solution. It is not that hard to get this.

    Unless one is a gun nut and thus can’t see beyond the blue steel barrel of one’s own rod.

    Noadi: Yea, as far as I know, here in the sensible upper midwest, every school has a cop. I don’t buy this bit about the texas school having the cops 30 minutes a way. More gun nut lies.

    Alexandra: Right. The kids are trying to kill each other with their fingernails all the time (this is well known to all teachers). They just never manage to do it because fingernails are not dangerious like guns are.

    Gotta go…

  55. #55 MartinM
    August 17, 2008

    The one crime that falls outside of these parameters is ‘unlawful carry of a handgun by a licensed holder’ – this crime applies only to individuals who are licensed by the state (some of which will be CHL holders, others may be law enforcement or allowed by law to carry a handgun under another statute).

    Ah. I apparently managed to completely miss the part where you stated that people other than CHL holders could still be convicted of this crime. Sorry, too early in the morning.

  56. #56 Leslie L
    August 17, 2008

    Let’s stop and think about it a different way for a minute. Most of the stabbings in the United States occur with screwdrivers rather than knives. Many traffic deaths occur because of drinking alcohol and then driving. We will never ban screwdrivers and we will never ban driving. Yes, I agree that one can kill more people easily with a gun than with a screwdriver.

    My point, if you will consider it calmly, and with an open mind, is that the deaths are a symptom of a problem. Whether the killing is done with screwdrivers, knives, bombs, guns, or cars, the implement used is not the problem. Lets try to solve the problem rather than addressing the symptom.

    What is the cause of all these deaths. It is not the implement used. The cause is an unhealthy mental world-view, a psychological problem, if you will. Whether it is road rage, a fight with fists and the first implement they can pick up, a gun, a bomb, or whatever, the cause is psychological.

    So how can we address the cause rather than the symptom? There is something about the way we are living, about our values, that is the cause. There will always be some implement available to let your rage out.

    Let’s do the harder thing. Instead of banning guns, let’s think abut why so many people harbor rage.

  57. #57 Andrea C.
    August 17, 2008

    I agree, the benefits of solving the “rage problem” will be far greater than the benefits of solving the “gun problem” or the “alcohol problem”.

  58. #58 Science Avenger
    August 17, 2008

    If we can pause a moment to let some facts into the discussion…

    Time magazine some years ago went to the trouble of documenting every gun death in the US for one week. Having nothing better to do, I went through the list and categorized the deaths. Here, if memory serves, is how it broke down:

    About 50% were suicides, mostly middle aged males.

    The next largest group was the wives and children of the suicidal males.

    Then came cops shooting criminals, citizens shooting criminals, and criminals shooting each other. That’s right, a rightful shooting by a cop goes into the stats the same as all the others.

    Way, way, WAY down the list was innocent people minding their own business and getting shot, or children finding dad’s gun and accidentally killing themselves or their friends with it. It was something like 5% of the total.

    Now we can argue the merits of all of these categories, but what no one reading this should ever allow again is for someone to rattle off the number of “gun deaths” and treat it as though each and every one of them was an innocent person dying tragically by being shot by a stranger. Only about 1/20 are like that.

  59. #59 Leslie L
    August 17, 2008

    In response to “As an aside, in rational arguments, loaded words (e.g. ‘gun nuts’,'gun banners’,'abortionists’,'Darwinists’) subvert logic by trying to persuade listeners in a non-rational manner. I think more neutral phrases (e.g. pro-gun/anti-gun) are more intellectual honest.”

    Amen, brother. I’m guessing that these emotionally-loaded terms are used in anger. It sounds like putting down somebody who doesn’t see the “obvious truth” of your position. Putting somebody down is an aggressive, angry act that in turn, provokes anger in the other person.

    All this anger bounces back and forth from one person to another and hardens people’s minds against each other. People begin to think that those who believe differently than ourselves are “lower” or “dumber” than ourselves. That is a very denigrating way to think of one another.

    So instead of supporting your own “position” on an issue and angrily “labeling” each other, we could try something that doesn’t put more anger into the discussion. We could stop thinking of “sides of an issue” – instead of grouping ourselves into “us” and “them” let’s acknowledge that none of us want to create more deaths. Whatever we believe, we don’t want more deaths.

    So the real issue is why do people kill each other? Why do people call each other ugly labels? It’s anger, isn’t it? Well not anger, but not knowing any better way to deal with anger. If we feel anger, we blame the other person for it, and we want to make ourselves look “better” and make them look “worse”.

  60. #60 Barn Owl
    August 17, 2008

    Bob wrote:

    Can we try to find that solution without the geographical ad hominems?

    At ScienceBlogs? No. One thing I’ve learned by reading such posts is that, as a Texan, I am necessarily a poorly-educated, gun-loving, fanatically religious, obese moron. Another thing I’ve learned is that the best can (apparently) rationalize anything, including prejudice, double standards, and being generally crappy to other people on the internet.

  61. #61 Stephanie Z
    August 17, 2008

    Science Avenger, wives and children of suicidal males don’t count as “innocent people minding their own business”?

  62. #62 greg laden
    August 17, 2008

    Barn Owl:

    I never called you obese. :)

    And, all you really need to do is gaze your eyes north and have a look at Minnesota. Maybe you can tell us what we are doing wrong.

  63. #63 Science Avenger
    August 17, 2008

    Not as in the “I was walking down the street minding my own business…” sense, though I grant it is truly tragic. The point is that if you aren’t going to kill yourself, and no one in your family is going to kill you, and you aren’t a criminal, then the odds of you being killed by a gun are extremely small. That isn’t the impression given by the typical “gun death” stats.

    In fact, gun deaths are highly correlated with the age and gender of the victim. IIRC a 40 year old man had 1/5 the chances of being fatally shot compared to a 20 year old. Truly random deaths happen, sure, but they are the exception, and too often in these discussions they are treated as the rule, and we get bad policy as a result.

  64. #64 Rogue Medic
    August 17, 2008

    The suggestion that guns are dangerous, therefore they should be banned because somebody might misuse them, is bad logic. Automobiles are dangerous and are misused enough to kill about 4 times as many people, per year, as are killed with guns. Of course, if you restrict the use of automobile transportation, the larger effect is to cause death by other means. We have fewer restrictions on the use of automobiles than on the use of guns. The automobile owner is required to carry insurance, so the danger is clearly acknowledged. It would be nice if we could more effectively weed out the dangerous drivers, but we have not been successful at that.

    The documentation of the low rate of crime by Texas gun license holders suggests that Texans do a much better job of weeding out the dangerous people, contrary to the stereotypical portrayal of Texans. Pointing out the unusual cases of homicide by Texans is using anecdotes to distort the facts. On a science blog, the use emotional anecdotes this way is unscientific.

    Comparing guns to land mines is also misleading. A land mine is set to go off when triggered – by anything that meets the programmed criteria. There is no hand controlling the discharge of the weapon, although some newer mines may have the capability to deactivate themselves after a set time period. Mines are as mindless as mandatory minimum sentences, zero tolerance laws, and other “absolute” laws that prevent thinking. The gun is used by a person, who may be thinking badly, but it is operated by a person. The problem is not the gun as much as it is the operator. Texas seems to screen fairly well for the dangerous operator, so why the focus on use by unlicensed people?

    A stolen gun being used to kill someone is not much different from a stolen automobile being used to kill someone. It does not make the argument that banning automobiles is the solution. The same is true for use by a child – it should not happen, whether the weapon is a gun or an automobile. It is the responsibility of the owner to keep their weapon from being misused.

    I do not own any guns. I do not feel threatened surrounded by people with guns, as long as they are not criminals or unstable. They are generally not allowed to legally possess guns. I am interested in protecting this important part of the US Constitution. I am far more afraid of those who seek to dismantle the Constitution, whether they are conservative or liberal. And both of these groups do work at eliminating the parts of the Constitution they do not like.

    As a paramedic, I do see the damage done by the misuse of guns, cars, drugs, knives, food, chain saws, medical devices, and many other items. I do not attempt to blame the item, rather than the person misusing the item. We need to move away from a culture that puts blame on inanimate objects, rather than on the individual responsible for the action.

    If legally licensed gun owners/users are not the problem, how is keeping guns out of their hands the solution?

  65. #65 greg laden
    August 17, 2008

    Automobiles are regulated. In fact, toasters are regulated more than guns are.

    In fact, if guns are nothing special, if fingernails and steak knives are truly equivalent to guns, than why are you whining about guns? Just go hunting with your fingernails and protect your family with a steak knife.

  66. #66 Stephanie Z
    August 17, 2008

    Can we stop comparing guns to automobiles. The purpose of a car is transport. The purpose of a gun is to put holes in things. In regulating cars, we are working to balance transportation needs with safety needs. In regulating guns, we have much less in the way of interests to compete with safety.

    Rather than comparing guns to autos, let’s compare them to something with a comparable function, like lawn darts.

  67. #67 Roman Werpachowski
    August 18, 2008

    “The purpose of a gun is to put holes in things.”

    No no no. The main purpose of a gun is to server an extension of the owner’s penis.

  68. #68 Roman Werpachowski
    August 18, 2008

    server an –> serve as an

    Sigh.

  69. #69 Rogue Medic
    August 18, 2008

    Yes. Automobiles are regulated.

    Guns are regulated, as well.

    If toasters are regulated more than guns, why is no license required to purchase one? You continue to mistake the tool for the actions that might be performed with the tool. Perhaps the act of manufacturing toasters is more regulated than the act of manufacturing guns, but that has nothing to do with ownership. Nobody needs a license or permit to own a toaster. Nobody needs a criminal background check to be permitted to purchase a toaster.

    Automobiles are not protected by the Constitution. Of course, automobiles were not around back then. Horses were the equivalent of automobiles, but there is no mention of a right to own horses or a right to ride horses. The 2nd amendment is not the only collective right, because there are no collective rights. Freedom of speech does not require participation in a group, such as the press, in order to matter. Why would the 2nd amendment be the only one of the Bill of Rights to be a collective right? The people who demanded the Bill of Rights were not afraid of individuals. With or without guns. They were afraid of the government taking their freedom away.

    “In fact, if guns are nothing special, if fingernails and steak knives are truly equivalent to guns, than why are you whining about guns? Just go hunting with your fingernails and protect your family with a steak knife.”

    When all else fails, hyperbole. If guns are nothing special, why is their ownership and use protected by the Bill of Rights? The people trying to take guns away from their legal owners are the ones more appropriately described as whining. They are not happy with other people having guns. Complaining about other people’s rights is whining, whether it is not liking gays, members of other races, women, members of other religions, or other groups that make the person uncomfortable, the person complaining and attempting to take away the rights of others, that is the one who is whining.

    When someone is trying to eliminate rights, criticism is legitimate. It is a response to the whining of those paving the road with good intentions.

    I don’t hunt. I don’t own guns. I do respect the rights of others and the Constitution. The Constitution is not a document that is designed to make everyone happy, but to protect individuals. That means we all have to respect the rights of others in order to have others respect our rights.

    There is no right to “not be offended by others having guns.” There is no right to not be offended by others engaging in practices that one finds offensive, such as religious behavior, sexual orientation, expression of opinion, . . . .

    If someone uses a gun illegally, there are laws to punish them. Making all guns illegal, because you cannot accept that people can act responsibly, is wrong and dangerous. It just leads to more and more irresponsibility. If nobody is expected to act responsibly, there will be no real safety. It will all be the fault of somebody else. We already have too much of that. Taking guns from legal gun owners will not remove guns from those who have them illegally. It will only encourage otherwise law abiding people to break the law. We have seen this with the prohibition of alcohol – the only amendment to take away rights. We have seen this with the prohibition of non-alcohol, non-tobacco recreational drugs, but without any amendment to justify it. Instead the interstate commerce clause has been used to broadly expand the role of the federal government beyond what is suggested in the Constitution.

    So, let me repeat my question. People with gun permits in Texas seem to be much more law abiding than the average person. If legally licensed gun owners/users are not the problem, how is keeping guns out of their hands the solution?

  70. #70 Greg Laden
    August 18, 2008

    I was talking about toaster safety, Rogue. And you know that.

    My point, which was spectacularly missed by everyone including, remarkably, Stephanie, is that I do not accept the argument that guns are like any other potential weapon (knives, fingernails, etc.) for reasons that are obvious … they are DESIGNED to be utterly different, and they are PURCHASED in order to have something utterly different. Moreover, the qualities that firearms have … including increased lethality, lethality at a distance, and rapid deployment (spontaneity) are the reasons why firearms are desired, and the reason why a person with a firearm is more of a concern … much more … than a person with a fingernail or a knife.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

  71. #71 Stephanie Z
    August 18, 2008

    Didn’t miss it. I was making a different point, namely that the much-used car argument is particularly ridiculous and annoying. My point may have undercut yours, however. Sorry about that.

  72. #72 Greg Laden
    August 18, 2008

    Right, no undercutting my point.

    But seriously, I think the analogies can be fairly useless on both sides of this issue because, since they are analogies, they can be legalized (verbally) so easily. “How is a toaster like a gun … you can’t make toast in a gun, huh?!!?!?” as people willfully miss the point.

    The funny thing is I’m not anti gun. I’m just anti gun-nut. And yes, they need to be as regulated as they are dangerous or misused. Get rid of the misuse, and make them safe, we don’t need no stinking regulation. Until then, gun nut talk places me and my family in danger, and I’m going to takes steps to defend myself.

  73. #73 MartinM
    August 18, 2008

    If legally licensed gun owners/users are not the problem…

    That hasn’t actually been established.

  74. #74 Stephanie Z
    August 18, 2008

    Please just tell me you didn’t think I was seriously advocating comparing guns to lawn darts.

    I admire guns as the end product of some pretty serious engineering. But that means I know exactly what they were engineered to do, both in general and the various types of guns. Having shot several handguns (and discovered that I’m pretty good at it), I know how much is involved in getting them to do exactly what you want them to do. I know how many things can go wrong in that process and how badly being stressed can screw things up.

    Frankly, the last thing I’d want in a high-adrenaline situation is a gun in my hand. I’d have to spend too much energy thinking about the gun and not enough about the situation. Otherwise, things could go very badly very quickly, even with the practice I’ve had.

    Guns are beautiful, deadly things. That’s it. I admire them, but I want them treated as exactly what they are.

  75. #75 Kelson
    August 18, 2008

    Thanks for your blatant characterization of people from Texas. We certainly appreciate so much when you stereotype our population of 25 million people by a little town with a few hundred people 30 minutes from the nearest police force. Wonderful job. The commie comment was completely unacceptable especially from someone of the scientific “rational” community. All in all you should be ashamed of the stereotypes and prejudices you showed in this post. There are many really wonderful hard working decent people in Texas, many of which probably disagree with you on the extent of gun control. To characterize them all as trigger happy wild gun nuts is disgusting. I don’t stereotype you, don’t stereotype me.

  76. #76 Roman Werpachowski
    August 18, 2008

    “commie comment” “< > community” … “I don’t stereotype you”

    Hmm.

  77. #77 Ben Zvan
    August 18, 2008

    The main purpose of a gun is to serve as an extension of the owner’s penis.

    No, the main purpose of a gun is to quell the Zombie Invasion. This is a serious matter: are Texas public schools going to be the only place safe from the zombies?

    I think that knowing that one’s teacher has a gun in their desk could be incentive to take it from them. How often does a teacher leave the room to speak with another teacher, turn their back to write on the board or happen to be smaller than a student? Now multiply that by 50.

  78. #78 Greg Laden
    August 18, 2008

    Please just tell me you didn’t think I was seriously advocating comparing guns to lawn darts.

    I actually like this comparison a lot. And, you know what? Nobody is taking away my lawn darts, and I resent that I can’t sell them on ebay. On the other hand, unlike guns, the more lawn darts they take away from others the more valuable mine become.

    Kelson,you are absolutely correct. 100%. No kidding. And I will continue to say that Texans are a bunch of slack jawed morons as long as we have the kind of news … about guns, about schools, about creationism, and so on …. from Texas that we routinely hear. And feel free to do the same to us Minnesotans. We did, after all, actually elect Jesse Ventura as our governor, and even worse, Tim Pawlenty.

    I’ve known a lot of texans. Some of my best friends are texans. And one thing I know about texans: A little shame is going to do you some good, bucko.

    So get over the hurt and start changing your comrades and how they do things. Don’t be the first state to have a school shooting where the shooter is a teacher driven nuts one day by the students.

    Oh, and I never said that an effective Zombie shelter should not have an effective arsenal…

  79. #79 Rogue Medic
    August 19, 2008

    Greg,

    “I was talking about toaster safety, Rogue. And you know that.”

    It is completely irrelevant. The safety is the responsibility of the operator. Which is something that safety nuts cannot understand, whether it is automobile safety, motorcycle safety, ladder safety, or anything else.

    The important safety notice for guns is, “don’t point it at anything you do not intend to destroy.” Nothing further needs to be mentioned. With a toaster, if you drop it in water, you have to worry about electrocution. If you do not pay attention to the wires, you might start a fire. This has nothing to do with gun safety.

    It is not a logical argument. It is an anthropomorphic falacy. This is no different from the doctors who worry about a patient dropping dead from a little morphine, fentanyl, midazolam, . . . . If they are going to authorize medics to use these drugs, they need to make sure that the medics know what they are doing. Unfortunately, the doctors often do not understand how to use these drugs. The drugs, themselves are not dangerous. It is how they are used. They do not administer themselves. Just as guns do not fire themselves.

    All of this criticism of the tool decreases safety, since the message is that you are not responsible for your actions – the drug is dangerous, or the gun is dangerous.

    Guns cannot be eliminated any more than cocaine, marijuanna, heroin, or any of the other illegal drugs. Selectively preventing law abiding citizens from posessing guns is not going to decrease gun crime.

    Martin M,

    “‘If legally licensed gun owners/users are not the problem…’

    That hasn’t actually been established.”

    Are you claiming that the crime statistics from Texas are wrong? Do you have some data that shows otherwise?

  80. #80 MartinM
    August 19, 2008

    Are you claiming that the crime statistics from Texas are wrong?

    No, simply that they don’t estabish that ‘legally licensed gun owners/users are not the problem.’ Firstly, they cover only CHL holders, not all legally licensed gun owners/users. Secondly, they compare CHL holders to the general population, not to a demographically matched control group. Thirdly, they don’t help us identify cases where a legally held gun was used to commit a crime by someone other than its owner.

  81. #81 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    OK, I am not familiar with the different levels of licensing in Texas. I did read too much into that.

    If the gun is used illegally by someone other than the owner, that suggests theft, although that would not be the only way point #3 would apply. Maybe the most common method. Guns being stolen will happen, even from the police and the military. Junkies will steal anything that can be easily sold on the black market. Is there a reason to believe that eliminating legal gun ownership will have much of an effect on the amount of guns used illegally?

  82. #82 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2008

    It is completely irrelevant. The safety is the responsibility of the operator. Which is something that safety nuts cannot understand, whether it is automobile safety, motorcycle safety, ladder safety, or anything else.

    You should try owning a car some time (or even driving one). It is loaded with safety features that only exist because they were installed by the manufacturer, and the only … ONLY! … reason that happened is because they were forced to by government regulation.

    Seriously, R, your pitifully libertarian ass has been saved by government regulation so many times it makes you look rather like a clown.

  83. #83 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2008

    Of course there’s a reason to think so. Fewer guns in general are fewer guns to be used illegally. Also, countries that severely limit gun ownership have less gun usage by criminals. The impact wouldn’t be immediate, but that’s no reason not to start the process. Just like the impossibility of achieving perfect product safety is not a reason not to strive for safer products.

  84. #84 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    There are safety features on cars that are not mandated by the government. If the only way safety features end up on cars is through government mandate, then this would not happen. An example of the government regulating things for your benefit is the incentive to buy SUVs by categorizing them as trucks and taxing them differently from cars. Most people want safety features, even a lot of the people who drive large vehicles cite safety as an important reason. A free market for people to make decisions about how they spend their money will result in better decisions than a bunch of people on a committee deciding how we should live our lives.

  85. #85 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    Here is a link that compares the different homicide rates in different countries. It does not look directly at the number of guns, but makes it pretty clear that the answer to high homicide rates is not as simple as banning guns or giving everyone guns.

    I think that we get enough guns smuggled into this country due to the drug laws, which are just another example of the government safety people at work, that there will never be a shortage of illegal guns in this country. These laws will only affect those who obey the law.

  86. #86 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    Oops, I left the link out.

    International Homicide Comparisons

  87. #87 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2008

    Yeah, thanks. I’d really prefer that my country not rank up there with the countries with serious entrenched poverty and ongoing factional fighting. We’re better than South Africa and Northern Ireland. Woot.

    And you’re ignoring the market argument about reducing the availability of guns. If there are fewer of them and there is more risk/cost in getting them into criminals’ hands, they will cost more. Since crime really doesn’t pay well, there will be many fewer criminals with guns. No, it won’t eliminate the heavily armed criminals, but again, improvement is good.

  88. #88 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    Improvement is good, but it depends on the cost. Since a part of the Constitution is the cost, that is not acceptable to me. The same as with the misguided attempts to eliminate terrorism by removing some “awkward” parts of the Constitution. In the long run, I expect to be much safer with the Constitution intact, that with selected parts removed.

    The page provides interesting information, brief, and surprisingly does not appear to be promoting any particular approach, just providing information.

  89. #89 MartinM
    August 19, 2008

    Here is a link that compares the different homicide rates in different countries. It does not look directly at the number of guns, but makes it pretty clear that the answer to high homicide rates is not as simple as banning guns or giving everyone guns.

    Well, no. We already knew that. The questions is whether guns tend to make things better or worse, not whether they’re the sole factor.

  90. #90 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2008

    There’s a bit more to that amendment than “guns on demand.” There is plenty of room to talk about what kinds of guns should be available and under what circumstances without tossing out the amendment. That’s how we treat the rest of the amendments, you know. This appeal to patriotism isn’t any more a valid argument for the status quo than “but change won’t make the whole problem disappear” is.

    I did read the page, despite my prompt response. I simply don’t think it says what you think it says, not once a little more information is added.

  91. #91 Thomas M.
    August 19, 2008

    Instead of comparing the US to countries with gun bans, I wondered why people never bother to compare the over-all violent crime rates in countries with a gun ban pre and post ban. It seems to me that that would have a better affect on showing whether it works or not — does not only gun crime go down, but all violent crime? Does gun crime go down and the rest of the violent crime rate shoot up? People never seem willing to look into this.

  92. #92 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2008

    There are safety features on cars that are not mandated by the government. If the only way safety features end up on cars is through government mandate, then this would not happen.

    You obviously missed the 1960s and 1970s.

    I think that we get enough guns smuggled into this country

    Same with coke, pot, and other stuff. SO, why is that regulated/illegal? Same with nuclear materials to make dirty bombs … well, it is not being imported at all as far as we know, but it COULD be very easily. So why worry about it?

    The data in the table is utterly bogus. We could have a whole thread on “why is this table full of shit”

  93. #93 rogue medic
    August 19, 2008

    Stephanie Z,

    “There’s a bit more to that amendment than ‘guns on demand.’”

    Opposing gun bans is quite a bit different from “guns on demand.” I was just pointing out that there is more to this than guns equal crime. It is only the case, that guns equal crime, when you have regulations that make any possession of a gun a crime. The criminals will not worry much about that, since they are already behaving illegally.

    Martin M,

    “The questions is whether guns tend to make things better or worse, not whether they’re the sole factor.”

    In England they are now making a big deal out of knife control, because of the crime wave with knives. When is the problem of the evil weapon put aside and the violent person addressed? Whether you are a victim of violent crime has a lot to do with the people you associate with.

    Greg,

    The regulators also go through period of obstinacy. The reason the drugs are illegal is the government’s refusal to let people take responsibility for their own behavior. This is also a bit of obstinacy that has encouraged the development of powerful criminal organizations. This is a drug market that was created by government regulation to force “safety” on people, just as they did with the earlier prohibition of alcohol.

    These are regulated because there are plenty of people who do not trust others to behave responsibly. There will always be some who do not behave responsibly. Even with this prohibition, there are plenty of addicts. Preventing those, who behave responsibly, from any popular behavior only creates an illegal market and the violence that accompanies this.

    There really is not good regulation of nuclear materials. Large amounts have disappear in the US. The amount of cesium that has disappeared, in spite of the regulations, could make a lot of dirty bombs. Not Hiroshima type bombs, but with plenty of longer term destructive capability.

    The link makes it clear that the information is not scientific, and I did not represent it as such.

  94. #94 Ben Zvan
    August 19, 2008

    Okay, let’s not talk about dirty bombs. That seems a little off-topic to me.

    Government regulation has been instrumental in saving many lives and limbs over the years. There is at least one case of an “economy” gun being pulled from the market due to safety problems. I agree, in theory, that natural selection should take its course to a certain extent but I don’t want to be killed by someone else’s incompetence.

    Ground-fault outlets will keep me safe when somebody drops a hair-dryer in my bath; drunk driving laws keep me safer when I’m in the road; and, while not of mortal concern to me, helmet laws keep me from paying as much for insurance when I’m not riding a motorcycle.

  95. #95 greg laden
    August 19, 2008

    The dirty bomb is not relevant, but I brought it up to underscore the irrelevance of the threat that if guns are regulated, the unregulated/illegal versions would flood across the borders.

    I do remember the “saturday night special” law. Was that national or just NY? Anyone interested in the value of regulation of firearms should look into that. Prior, handguns used on the street were readily available for about 25 dollars. This regulatory effort drove the cost of hand guns up for gangbangers.

    Not as good a Chris Rock’s solution, though.

  96. #96 rogue medic
    August 20, 2008

    Guns already are regulated.

    An “economy gun” will probably do more damage to the operator, than to you, unless you buy one. This did not really affect you, unless you were in the market for a really cheap gun.

    Smugglers will smuggle whatever pays. If the only legal guns are in the hands of the police and military, then it will pay for people to smuggle more guns into the US.

    Drunk driving laws are to protect you from others, not from yourself.

    Helmet laws are to appease the fears of those who do not like seeing bikers riding without helmets. There are no laws to require use of condoms during intercourse, to regulate the food that you eat (or the amount), to require that you participate in enough anaerobic exercise per week, . . . these would be just as valid, since they would be to keep your insurance rates down. They would make a much more significant impact on insurance rates than the small effect of motorcycle riders with head injuries that might have been prevented by a helmet. Maybe someday we can have all of these laws.

  97. #97 greg laden
    August 20, 2008

    Rogue,

    I want motorcyclists to wear helmets where I drive because while I don’t mind running one over if he drives in front of me, I’d rather not kill it because it brings up issues of legal liability. They are more likely to live if they were the helmets. If he wants to be a moron and go home and eat himself to death, I’m all for that.

    Yes, guns are already regulated, but not uniformly, effectively, or efficiently in a way that does enough to a) protect gun ownership and b) protect the rest of the population from gun ownership.

    This is because gun nuts spend too much money and effort ruining the regulatory process. Until they stop doing this, I say: Ban all guns and gun related activities. Then, when the gun nuts grow brain tissues we can start to talk.

    I never used to think this. I used to be pretty much indifferent to gun ownership, and the gun owners I have known personally (and this is still mostly true) are not nuts, are fine with being responsible in a broader social way.

    Then I became a blogger and started to hear more first hand this crap that I always knew was out there but didn’t really believe that people thought, as it was so utterly stupid and offensive. But I was wrong. There are too many mush brained selfish libertarian slobs out there to allow any guns of any kind. Collect them all. It is too difficult to control or regulate under the present circumstances, but it would not be too difficult to round up 99 percent of the guns with specially trained dogs working with police entry teams brought from neighborhood to neighborhood in helicopters while each area of the city and country side is temporarily (or if needed longer) isolated using razor wire and more specially trained dogs, and laser fences with automatic taser attachments. Going neighborhood by neighborhood it would take only about 20 years to round up every gun in the US.

    Every. Gun. We are going to take them all.

  98. #98 Ben Zvan
    August 20, 2008

    Greg,

    I agree entirely with your first paragraph, that was my point exactly. Rogue completely missed it, I suspect on purpose.

    Since your last paragraph disagrees with your second, I’ll assume you don’t really mean it. But I’ll take the bait anyway.

    If we outlaw all guns, we’ll need to have a serious discussion about wildlife population control. How about if we only outlaw handguns?

    You can have my gun when you pry Rogue’s from his cold, dead hands. Until then, I want to be able to return fire.

  99. #99 Greg Laden
    August 20, 2008

    If we outlaw all guns, we’ll need to have a serious discussion about wildlife population control. How about if we only outlaw handguns?

    This is where the helicopters come in…

  100. #100 Stephanie Z
    August 20, 2008

    Ben, Rogue hasn’t been paying much attention to what anyone has said, himself included. He’s got about three talking points, and he keeps cycling through variations of these instead of engaging with anyone else’s commentary. He’s a bit dull that way.

  101. #101 Elizabeth
    August 20, 2008

    Mr. Rogue is the reason I would not think twice about repealing the 2nd amendment. I agree with Greg. We do not need laws to allow or disallow guns at the constitutional level any more than we need this kind of law for any other appliance.

    Or, I want my toaster to receive constitutional protection or I am going to take all of my toasters to my shack in the mountains of Idaho. Then you’ll be sorry.

  102. #102 rob
    August 20, 2008

    “given the choice of a very slim possibility of a gunman in the school and ensuring there are lots of guns in the school, I choose the slim chance”

    There is no reason that you can not have both.

  103. #103 Andrew
    August 20, 2008

    As an aside, in rational arguments, loaded words (e.g. ‘gun nuts’,'gun banners’,'abortionists’,'Darwinists’) subvert logic by trying to persuade listeners in a non-rational manner. I think more neutral phrases (e.g. pro-gun/anti-gun) are more intellectual honest and don’t automatically impugn people who honestly hold a different opinion

    That depends on what opinion you hold. Stories of the police accidentally stumbling on a home in which there are stashed dozens of automatic rifles, grenade launchers, tons of ammo, are more common than these school shootings. There are gun nuts out there.

  104. #104 Greg Laden
    August 20, 2008

    Stephanie and Ben: Has it come to this? Communicating through the blog? MY blog, no less?

  105. #105 thom tumb
    August 20, 2008

    |||Helmet laws are to appease the fears of those who do not like seeing bikers riding without helmets. There are no laws to require use of condoms during intercourse, to regulate the food that you eat (or the amount), to require that you participate in enough anaerobic exercise per week, . . .|||

    This is conflating two entirely different systems, and indicates a sore lack of understanding of how the system works. Insurance liabilities arise for all individuals involved in an accident, but the fast food is not normally implicated in a wrongful death suit where someone’s arteries clog and they die. But I suppose if one is grasping at straws, any straws will do.

  106. #106 sjl
    August 20, 2008

    There are too many mush brained selfish libertarian slobs out there to allow any guns of any kind.

    and this is exactly why we will retain our right to bear arms

  107. #107 Stephanie Z
    August 20, 2008

    Off the blog, Greg, we have much better things to talk about than gun nuts. :)

  108. #108 JYB
    August 20, 2008

    IAAT (I am a teacher) and frankly, I’m more worried about teachers cracking and shooting kids than kids shooting us. I work in one of those stereotypical urban districts with gangs and drugs and kids having sex and all that, but I’ve never felt unsafe. I spend more of my time protecting kids from teachers (usually subs) than the other way around. Last year, I had to physically bar a sub from entering a room once after he flipped out and started throwing things and calling my kids racial slurs (12-14 year olds). I’m glad he didn’t have a gun.

    You might argue that he was a sub, but we’re the type of school that’s always understaffed and we have to hire pretty much anyone who will apply to be compliant with the law. We’ve had our share of crazies.

  109. #109 rogue medic
    August 20, 2008

    Ben Zvan,

    I do not own any guns. I do not have any desire to own any guns.

    Thom Thumb,

    If you are worried about the extra cost of insurance, obesity, AIDS/hepatitis, and many other preventable conditions will cost us much more than injured motorcyclists will. If you are worried about wrongful death, maybe you should not act in a way that would bring about a wrongful death.

  110. #110 Ben Zvan
    August 21, 2008

    Rogue,

    Okay, remove your name from my earlier comment and put in Charlton Heston. Wait, no, put in Dick Chaney; I’m pretty sure he’s still around.

    And stop with the extra cost of insurance bit. That obviously wasn’t my initial point even if I didn’t state it well. As Greg and I have both pointed out, my point is that helmets keep me from killing motorcyclists. I’m okay with people killing themselves, I just don’t want to help them do it.

  111. #111 greg laden
    August 21, 2008

    I’m with Ben and Tom on this one, Rogue. I cannot enter the brain of the 22 year old on the crotch rocket and make him think he wants to go the speed limit and stop switching lanes when there is no room, or carry out motorcycle acrobatics in the roadspace 50 meters in front of me and my innocent law abiding poorly armed family. Which is what you appear to be suggesting.

  112. #112 rogue medic
    August 21, 2008

    But when do you stop telling other people what risks they may take with their own lives?

    Is any risk acceptable?

    Only the ones that you feel are acceptable?

    Where is the line?

    Why?

  113. #113 Ben Zvan
    August 21, 2008

    That’s it right there. I don’t care to tell other people what risks they may take with their own lives. I really only want to tell them what risks they may take with others lives. The line is how much it affects other people.

  114. #114 Analiese
    August 21, 2008

    In regard to communications between Stephanie Z (who up until yesterday or so I was calling S. Tsvahn) and Ben Zvan (who – up until looking into that link to Ben’s website posted by Greg on the jeebus picnic page – I had been calling Ben Tsvahn) through the medium of Greg’s blog, I’m afraid I have to comment. Rouge, you can skip this part and pick up again at the bottom where I’ve got two cents laid out on the gun deal, if you want, which is not to say that I will care one way or the other about your comment. What is most interesting to me here is that Ben Zvan is actually Ben ZuhVan, from highschool (and many an honors class). Did you two know this? And how weird to meet up HERE? Very unusual, I would say. I remember, Stephanie, that you commented recently about having gone with your husband to his high-school reunion, and I was like, ‘Hm! I had a reunion that night too! Must be a big time for reunions!’ But I didn’t go! And I might have met you! YOU, my Greg Laden’s blog commenting hero….

    Anyway, about the gun business. You were talking about the case in Texas earlier (I know, you’ve got to go way back to the original post, forgetting for a moment all the clever and defensive 2nd amendment for toasters back-and-forthing since) and I happened to run across some related news bits this week: One is that Texas leads the nation in schools that practice corporeal punishment. The other is that there is apparently going to be some kind of internal decision making process at the school in question wherein “hot-head” teachers will be denied the right to carry. This is all so patently absurd, to me, but I expect to hear any day now that, as a precaution against those hot-heads who DO get their hands on a weapon, the principle will be armed with an Uzi. And then….and on and on and on and on. ABSURDITY! And WORSE – LETHAL absurdity.

  115. #115 Stephanie Z
    August 21, 2008

    Analiese, I didn’t know a thing. I swear. But any time you want to meet, just say the word. I’ll even buy the first round, since I don’t think anyone’s ever called me their hero before. :)

    (Just a warning, though. Greg has a tendency to muscle in on these things.)

    Back on topic, I have to say that JYB’s comment has really stuck with me. I was very good at pissing off the occasional teacher who needed it. There’s at least one who probably would have shot me if he’d had the opportunity.

  116. #116 Ana
    August 21, 2008

    PrinciPAL! jeez…sorry

  117. #117 rogue medic
    August 21, 2008

    Ben Zvan,

    “That’s it right there. I don’t care to tell other people what risks they may take with their own lives. I really only want to tell them what risks they may take with others lives. The line is how much it affects other people.”

    But how do you decide how much is too much?

    Do we lock up P.Z. Myers for hate crimes, because his actions affect Catholics, some quite a bit?

    If you wish to compare the cost of head injured motorcyclist, with injuries that would have been prevented by a helmet, with the costs of other choices, AIDS/hepatitis will dwarf the amount, so why not regulate that? Obesity is supposed to be moving to the number one cause of death, do we ban stores from selling food to the obese?

    It isn’t just the cost with obesity, I am one with the job of transporting them to the hospital for the complications of limited mobility, trying to resuscitate them when they have their untimely cardiac arrests, and hoping my back survives. The current buzz term in EMS is bariatric. We have specially made stretchers, because the standard stretchers generally only hold up to 450 pounds. The cost is there in increased insurance rates, increased taxes, and increased worker’s compensation claims.

    Smoking, alcohol, . . .

    But, when does the cost of regulating these things become counterproductive?

    How much of your money outweighs the choice of someone else?

  118. #118 Ben Zvan
    August 21, 2008

    Rogue,

    But how do you decide how much is too much?

    Luckily, that’s the job of politicians, not me. As for the rest: That’s silly; again, you miss the point with the motorcyclist; that is silly too, though we do ban bars from selling alcohol to the drunk in my state; that’s a matter of opinion and there’s not much cost to not allowing guns in schools and; I see words, but no meaning.

    Analiese,

    I will buy the second drink. Good to hear from you again.

  119. #119 rogue medic
    August 21, 2008

    Ben Zvan,

    I never mentioned the teachers having guns in school in any of my comments. I have only made comments about other comments.

    “‘But how do you decide how much is too much?’

    Luckily, that’s the job of politicians, not me.”

    This suggests that you would be comfortable with any variation of government control. You do have a say in the election of those politicians.

  120. #120 Ben Zvan
    August 22, 2008

    Well, since the post is about guns in schools, that was silly of you…

    I have a tendency to vote for politicians whose ideas sound good to me so I suspect that it will work out in the end. There are some things that I don’t think should be regulated that are and some things that aren’t that I think should be. That’s good because I’m not the end-all opinion on these things. It’s why we have a representative form of government.

  121. #121 rogue medic
    August 22, 2008

    I am occasionally silly. There is nothing wrong with being silly.

    The subject main article was not that interesting to me, but I saw some comments that I did want to comment on.

    The representative government is the reason the original states insisted on the Bill of Rights in order to ratify the Constitution. There were some things they did not trust to be left to majority rule, unless there was enough of a majority to amend the Constitution.

  122. #122 Analiese
    August 22, 2008

    Thanks, you two! I look forward to meeting and drinking…any more than two, though, and we’ll have to get Greg to join us so there will be someone to carry me home. ;)

  123. #123 greg laden
    August 22, 2008

    No problem, I’ve got the forester. I can put the seats down and toss any number of non-designated drivers back there.

  124. #124 Stephanie Z
    August 22, 2008

    Can I just puke now and skip the part about being stacked like cord wood?

  125. #125 greg laden
    August 22, 2008

    For that we use the trailer.

  126. #126 Robbie
    August 24, 2008

    Hi Horace,

    From this article:

    “In shootings at other schools, armed students or employees have restrained gunmen, possibly preventing additional murders. Four years ago at Appalachian Law School in Grundy, Virginia, a man who had killed the dean, a professor, and a student was
    subdued by two students who ran to their cars and grabbed their guns. In 1997 an assistant principal at a public high school in Pearl, Mississippi, likewise retrieved a handgun from his car and used it to
    apprehend a student who had killed three people.”

    Regards,

    Robbie

  127. #127 Robbie
    August 24, 2008

    Horace,

    Here are a few more examples of students carrying guns stopping school shootings (from
    Buit on Facts):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercaz_HaRav_Massacre
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Woodham

    Regards,

    Robbie

  128. #128 greg laden
    August 24, 2008

    Robbie,

    Thanks for the info. Please provide the reference for the first case.

    For the second case, this is Israel. Totally irrelevant to the present discussion. Might as well have been on mars.

    For the third case, Luke walked into the school toting a rifle. In the current system, with even modest security and lockdown procedures, no one would have to go to get a gun and shoot the guy. This is a good example of modern systems (post columbine) that probably would have worked.

    I would like information about lockdown and other similar security systems being put to the test in various ways.

    Oh, and Luke’s case is also an example of killing with a specific religious connection. Getting rid of religion could help too.

  129. #129 Ben Zvan
    August 24, 2008

    This is rapidly becoming a question of antidote versus anecdote.

  130. #130 Analiese
    August 25, 2008

    RAPIDLY?

    oh how it goes on

  131. #131 Dave
    May 4, 2009

    WTH is a .57 Magnum and who mfg’s it? Are you refering to the S&W Model 57?