Rembering Columbine

On April 20th, 1999, at the Columbine High School in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, shot to death 12 students, one teacher, and themselves. Twenty-one others were wounded by them, and additional individuals were wounded while escaping the massacre. Columbine . They also injured 21 other students directly, and three people were injured while attempting to escape. Columbine currently ranks as the fourth deadliest school massacre, but it remains the deadliest event of its kind in the US. (The three deadlier massacres were very different in numerous ways and should not be placed on the same scale. As a US K-12, shootings by students event, Columbine stands alone.)

The documentary Bowling for Columbine does a good job of placing this event in the broader context of gun regulation in North America.

Utterly insensitive, armed and dangerous gun rights advocates have often used Columbine as a place to make their case that guns should always be unregulated. The latest is the series of pro-gun rallies held on Monday.

Comments

  1. #1 Sevesteen
    April 20, 2010

    Insensitive, maybe–I don’t actually know why this particular day was chosen, and I’m guessing it would be hard to find a day without some significance. Armed, sure. Dangerous? Compared to what? I’m talking about the ones who will obey all these regulations in the first place.

    How many felonies were committed in Columbine even before the first shot was fired? How is making their crimes even more illegaller going to help?

    How often does a spree shooter continue once someone shoots back in their general direction? (I’ve tried to find one, and couldn’t)

    How often do successful spree shooters pick places where guns aren’t allowed? (almost all of them)

    Does a state’s gun law score by the Brady Campaign correlate to lower violent crime? (Correlation is well below statistical significance, and the sign is reversed if DC is included)

    Is there any valid science that shows restricting the rights of the law abiding reduces crime?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Sevesteen, there certainly have been spree shooters in places where concealed weapons or other guns are allowed, and no one ever shot back. So the idea that if more people carried guns around the spree shooters would not get anywhere is absurd and incorect.

    Insensitive? Yes indeed. Pro gun nuts traditionally hold a major rally on or near the anniversary of Columbine. That is because they are sick fucks.

    How do we EXPECT the Brady score to relate to crime? Certainly not in the simplistic way you suggest.

    Finally, spewing out a series of reasons that we should be unconcerned with something like the Columbine shooting as a comment on a post about it is really, really uncool.

  3. #3 NewEnglandBob
    April 20, 2010

    “Is there any valid science that shows restricting the rights of the law abiding reduces crime?”

    Yes, studies that include European cities like London.

  4. #4 MadScientist
    April 20, 2010

    Yeah, no regulation! I want every kid to take his or her bodyguards Smith and Wesson everywhere they go. Well, OK, many of the S&Ws are pretty heavy so I’ll excuse ‘em if they carry a G-lock instead, even if it is UnAmerican because it’s made by a fat strudel eating guy named Hans.

  5. #5 daedalus2u
    April 20, 2010

    The root cause of Columbine was bullying. The “othering” and ostracizing of some students because they were different. Rarely bullying results in events like Columbine, more commonly it results in the suicide of the victims without them committing murder. Most commonly the victims just feel crummy and ineffectual and live lives stunted because of lack of access to opportunities and because bullies thwart their actions.

    Bullying of children is tolerated because that is how social power hierarchies are formed in children and in adults. If children didn’t learn how to bully as children, they would grow up not being able to bully as adults. Instead of finding their “place” in the social hierarchy by bullying and being bullied, they would figure out other ways. Instead of growing up to fit in the existing social power hierarchy based on social status and ability to bully, they would use other criteria, like merit. Adults who are succeeding in a power hierarchy based on bullying but would fail in a social power hierarchy based on merit can’t allow the social power hierarchy selection method to change.

  6. #6 MadScientist
    April 20, 2010

    @NewEnglandBob: Really? Not having firearms in the UK reduces general crime in London? What is the control situation against which you make that assessment? Anyway, that would be cherry picking; look at the mass violence in Rwanda as a counterexample of how not having guns does not reduce the rate of violent crimes.

    The expected effect of an all out ban on firearms will be the elimination of the crimes committed by people who do not have a particularly determined desire to kill. There is not even any apriori reason to believe it would reduce suicides significantly (though it would be expected to reduce suicides by guns – by driving up the use of other methods). Would it have stopped Lee Malvo? Why would we even imagine it would have stopped the killers at Columbine? To say it would have prevented the murders at Columbine would be an unjustifiable statement of belief, a “value statement”. Let’s take away all guns. Anyone remember Timothy McVeigh? He didn’t need all those guns he had. The people determined to kill will continue to kill. As tragic as it is to lose friends and family to some lowlife, I cannot see how banning firearms can be expected to result in a significant decrease in murder. While I cannot imagine any significant gains from banning these weapons, I certainly believe there are some significant gains to be made by far greater restrictions in the licensing and in registration. I cannot stand the NRA with their lunatic raving against registration (don’t even mention restrictions) and of course if many people did carry guns you can imagine how the situations can really get out of hand – everyone will be shooting anyone whom they saw shooting someone else.

  7. #7 Adam
    April 20, 2010

    Is there any other possible reason they organizers of these events decided to have them on April 19th, not April 20th (the date of Columbine)?

    From the secondamendmentmarch.com website:

    Why April 19th?
    April 19th was chosen to commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord, when British troops were dispatched to sieze and destroy military supplies being stored by the colonists. This was one of the first displays of American spirit as the colonists united to defend their way of life.

    We know that there has been much speculation about this date, for many reasons. Some read into it, pointing to the fact that the battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War and that somehow we are sending a subtle message. Others have (falsely) reported that it was chosen to honor a certain man who committed such despicable acts that we will not even honor him here by typing his name. We have no desire or intent to honor monsters and cowards such as he.

    The various accusations we have heard couldn’t be further from the truth, but people will believe what they want to believe and nothing we do or say will ever change that.

  8. #8 Doug
    April 20, 2010

    Despite what the gun lobby says, the majority of gun murders do occur in places where guns are present — they happen in private homes where the gun is the property of one of the residents. I am also not sure why whenever gun control regulations come up, where so many immediately jump to the conclusions that guns will be banned. I don’t think anyone has ever seriously proposed this. All I have ever seen proposed are common sense regulations to try to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Unfortuantely, the genie may be out of the bottle on that one — our society has so many guns that it would be nearly impossible to regulate their exchange. What is possible is ammunition control, which I would be in favor of. I should add that I have owned guns literally since before I was born. However, I hold the NRA, the gun lobby, and those who participate in events like the rally described in this article in utter, utter contempt. My guns are at home, locked up, unless I am shooting them. If yours aren’t, then you’re part of the problem, in my opinion.

  9. #9 Sevesteen
    April 20, 2010

    Spree shootings where concealed carry is allowed are a very small minority of incidents, despite these places being in the majority. I’m curious what incident you’re thinking of that doesn’t follow this pattern. The number of victims is directly proportional to how quickly the shooter takes return fire, and disparity of firepower is almost entirely irrelevant–Because of this, police doctrine on active shooters since Columbine has evolved so the first officers on scene engage immediately, rather than waiting for SWAT or backup. Allowing decent people to carry isn’t going to end spree shootings, but it is more likely to help than hurt–Are you aware of any incident where a license holder’s reaction to an active shooter made things worse?

    Anti-gun activists use every tragedy to push for restrictions, very often completely irrelevant to the particular incident. Sick fucks. Spree shootings are rare enough that we shouldn’t use them as justification for broad changes to law in either direction.

    You don’t even expect gun laws to correlate to reduced violence? What’s the point, then?

    We should be concerned with things like Columbine, but a knee jerk reaction of “It’s the GUNS!!! ban them and it will all be fixed!!!” isn’t realistic. K-12 shootings aren’t likely to be affected much by allowing carry. Something like Northern Illinois University, or especially Virginia Tech would be far more likely to be mitigated by guns in the hands of the right people.

  10. #10 JasonTD
    April 20, 2010

    Finally, spewing out a series of reasons that we should be unconcerned with something like the Columbine shooting as a comment on a post about it is really, really uncool.

    Greg,

    I don’t read Sevesteen’s comment as arguing that we should be ‘unconcerned’, but simply as a challenge to the premise that tighter gun control would have prevented Columbine from happening.

    Utterly insensitive, armed and dangerous gun rights advocates have often used Columbine as a place to make their case that guns should always be unregulated. The latest is the series of pro-gun rallies held on Monday.

    I have not known or heard of anyone arguing for ‘unregulated’ guns any more than Doug has seen anyone seriously propose banning guns. The gun owners I know (including a card-carrying member of the NRA) are for sensible regulations and better enforcement of the laws we already have.

    Also, I think you can see how you were incorrect about why the gun rally in the article you linked to was held yesterday, as Adam pointed out.

  11. #11 dean
    April 20, 2010

    Something like Northern Illinois University, or especially Virginia Tech would be far more likely to be mitigated by guns in the hands of the right people.

    Highly unlikely. Quoting the son of a friend (a Ranger to boot) “Lots of folks can shoot guns – most have no idea what to do when bad guys are shooting back.”

    I doubt a majority of folks carrying guns would have had appropriate training on returning fire, or be calm enough to think about it, at Virginia Tech or a similar situation.

    Final comment: The exploitation of the tragedy of others to argue for something you want has always bothered me. Argue (reasonably) for your right to carry and own weapons, but don’t use the death by shooting of others as your starting point. Same type of comment goes the other way.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    MadScientist, this made my head explode:

    Anyway, that would be cherry picking; look at the mass violence in Rwanda as a counterexample of how not having guns does not reduce the rate of violent crimes.

    Can you name 20 African countries? Most people can’t but I figure since you spent several hours reviewing the data and making a good effort at sampling and not cherry picking, you could … ….. :)

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Jason,actually, no, and let the record show that. This Columbine Anniversary gun nut show thing has been going on since the year after Columbine, is well documented, and always looks the same. No one has ever admitted what they are doing, and that is a lot like what gun nuts usually do … fail to take any responsibility at all for their juvenile hobby.

  14. #14 Doug
    April 20, 2010

    I tend to agree about the value of guns for public safety in the hands of the untrained. Many years ago I got an excellent education in the use of all types of firearms from our military, and even with all that training it was still hard to shoot effectively when faced with a real enemy who was shooting back. Under the stress of real fire, it’s hard to tell friend from enemy, hard to effectively aim, hard sometimes even to remember how the weapon works. Unfortunately, no amount of training on a range really helps. I’ve seen people in their first fire fight fumbling with the selector switch on their rifle, something they would be able to do without any thought if they were just shooting on a rifle range. Based on these experiences, I am not confident that armed citizens would really make a difference in any sort of spree-shooting situation. I think it’s likely that in a case such as VT, where the shooter was wondering from place to place, a bunch of armed citizens would just make things worse. Imagine being a police office and arriving in the middle of that kind of chaos? Do you know who the real shooter is? Can you distinguish them from the other armed individuals running around? How about the civilians themselves? Do they know who the real threat is? What happens if one of them mistakes another armed civilian for the shooter? It just seems like a recipe for even more disaster. Also, are we sure that an armed population is really a deterrent? How can we be sure that arming the populace isn’t simply going to cause the bad guys to arm themselves even better, and become even more violent? Haven’t we seen drug dealers respond to a better equipped plice force by upping their own arsenals? After all, the best way to attack a hard target is to increase your firepower. I’m not sure what the best solution to dealing with our armed and dangerous society is, but creating an even more armed society just strikes me as a naive and simplistic solution. I’ not a big Michael Moore fan, but he nailed this question: the issue is not the guns, it’s the fear. We live in a paranoid and frightened society, and many of our political leaders encourage these fears in order to maintain their power (cough*BushAdministration*cough). One of the reasons I don’t carry any gun (although I have a nice little Walther that would be a perfect concealed carry) nor do I keep loaded weapons available in my house is that I just don’t want to let ungrounded fears of the improbably rule my life.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Dean: word.

  16. #16 Mark F.
    April 20, 2010

    Some here may want to read a recent book on the Columbine massacre by journalist Dave Cullen titled (of all things) “Columbine”. He extensively documented how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold where definitely not the victims of bullying. They were not acting out in response to bullying either. Based upon his journal entries and website writings it’s been determined that Eric was a psychopath while Dylan was seriously depressed and had been contemplating suicide for ~ 2 years prior to the massacre. Eric was the leader who wanted to go out in a blaze of “glory” and Dylan simply followed him as a means to end his own life.

    There are a slew of misconceptions about Columbine. I highly recommend Cullen’s book for anyone who is interested in this story.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Mark: I saw that author interviewed. My thinking at the time was either a) This is amazing journalism everybody has to read this or b) this guy has done the old reverse everything, question everything, and make sure you come up with contrary answers about everything because that way the book will sell. I could not tell from the interview, but I leaned towards A. But, alas, I never got around to reading the book, which is called: Columbine

  18. #18 Sevesteen
    April 20, 2010

    The gun owners I know (including a card-carrying member of the NRA) are for sensible regulations and better enforcement of the laws we already have.

    If you’ve got a sensible definition of sensible, I agree. There are a ton of utterly stupid laws that are promoted as “sensible restrictions” but make no sense except as an incremental approach to banning widely-used types of guns.

    Highly unlikely. Quoting the son of a friend (a Ranger to boot) “Lots of folks can shoot guns – most have no idea what to do when bad guys are shooting back.”

    …including soldiers and police. Many police don’t spend more than the minimum required time and effort in gun training, because firing a gun is such a rare part of their job. Statistically law abiding civilians shoot the wrong person at something like 1/5 the rate of police. There is a really good chance that I’d run or freeze up and not shoot anyone, in which case we are no worse off. If I do shoot someone, there’s statistically less chance that it will be the wrong person than if we wait for the police to get here.

    What happens if one of them mistakes another armed civilian for the shooter?
    If the Virginia Tech shooter bursts into a classroom and starts shooting people, and a classmate starts to shoot back most people are smart enough to figure out not to shoot at the classmate–this is in fact a large part of WHY legal civilians do a better job in gunfights than police, they aren’t showing up halfway through and trying to sort it out with bullets flying. And if us gun nuts are willing to risk ourselves, how does it harm the rest of you? I haven’t heard anyone advocating vigilante patrols wandering around campus with drawn guns.

  19. #19 itzac
    April 20, 2010

    I agree completely with Doug, and I would add that the best way to reduce crime is to deal with the desperation from which it stems. It is a people problem after all.

    I would like to see Canada issue permits to carry, with the stipulation that obtaining a permit means completing a course that includes non-violent and violent conflict intervention. If a person wants the right to carry a weapon, they should bear the responsibilities that go with it.

    As an aside, a year or two ago, I read an article about a guy shooting a robber who was trying to steal $100 from the til at a Burger Kin . He was painted as a hero, but the headline really should have read, “Idiot kills robber over $100, get himself shot in the process.”

  20. #20 Doug
    April 20, 2010

    Sevestenn,

    Can you quote a source on your statistic that law-abiding citizens are much less likely to shoot the wrong person? Even more important, can you provide details on the significance of the difference, the test that was used to determine it, how large the size of the sample was, and where the data were obtained?

    As far as I’m concerned, you “gun nuts” are not risking yourselves to help us, you’re endangering us. If you want to help, leave the hardware at home.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Ah … excuse me but it is well known that “law abiding citizen” almost always shoot the “wrong” person. The vast, vast, vast majority of “law abiding” gun shots that result in death or injury are suicides, accidents, and cases of mistaken identity. If you consider a depressed teenager shooting him/herself as shooting the right person, get your head checked.

  22. #22 daedalus2u
    April 20, 2010

    Mark, don’t believe everything you read, especially when it is written by people with an agenda.

    The idea that there was no bullying at Columbine prior the the shootings is simply completely wrong. There was pervasive bullying by jocks, and it was tolerated by school officials.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/daily/june99/columbine12.htm

    http://www.pilambda.org/horizons/v83-2/cutting%20edge.pdf

    Discounting the effects of that bullying is an exercise in “othering”, pretending that the two shooters are “so different” than everyone else that everyone can just go back to their status quo ways of behaving because “no one could have predicted” anything bad was going to happen.

    When you “other” someone to the extent that you are unable to understand their thinking processes, then yes, you can’t predict what they are going to do, but that flaw is in your blindness, not in the unpredictability of “the other”.

    The Secret Service has a different idea.

    http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf

    Page 21:
    Many attackers felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others prior to the attack.
    Explanation
    Almost three-quarters of the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others prior to the incident (71percent, n=29)21
    In several cases, individual attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that was long-standing and severe. In some of these cases the experience of being bullied seemed to have a significant impact on the attacker and appeared to have been a factor in his decision to mount an attack at the school.22 In one case, most of the attacker’s schoolmates described the attacker as “the kid everyone teased.” In witness statements from that incident, schoolmates alleged that nearly every child in the school had at some point thrown the attacker against a locker, tripped him in the hall, held his head under water in the pool or thrown things at him. Several schoolmates had noted that the attacker seemed more annoyed by, and less tolerant of, the teasing than usual in the days preceding the attack.

  23. #23 daedalus2u
    April 20, 2010

    Greg, I posted something that had 3 links, so it is held up.

    I go with b, he reversed everything to get a book that would sell because people didn’t want to address the real issues about bullying.

    Many of the students at Columbine were afraid to testify about bullying for fear of being bulllied more in retribution.

  24. #24 Mark F.
    April 20, 2010

    Greg: Having read Cullin’s book, I’d definitely have to go with option A. It’s a compelling read.

    The real tragic thing is that the massacre likely could have been avoided. The local police had evidence that Eric was a real danger to the community at least a year prior to their killing spree but for reasons that have never been fully explained, they didn’t follow up on it.

  25. #25 itzac
    April 20, 2010

    I think sevesteen’s stats are probably better summarized as “The people who are there when an incident starts will likely know more about the situation than someone who shows up in the middle of the chaos.” A conclusion that should be painfully obvious.

    Police do have a hard job in these sorts of situations. If they show and people are shooting, their first job is to make the shooting stop. They’re not going to interview people to find out who to shoot.

  26. #26 Azkyroth
    April 20, 2010

    Why would we even imagine it would have stopped the killers at Columbine?

    You really don’t think a couple of hurt, angry high school kids would have had more difficulty getting guns if the black market was the only source?

  27. #27 Azkyroth
    April 20, 2010

    Statistically law abiding civilians shoot the wrong person at something like 1/5 the rate of police.

    [Citation needed]

  28. #28 Azkyroth
    April 20, 2010

    Is there any valid science that shows restricting the rights of the law abiding reduces crime?

    Beyond that, I think applying the label of “law-abiding,” to people who go out and buy guns (or plan to), and talk like a five year old who’s found one in his dad’s closet, is kind of presumptuous. Small children should not be in possession of deadly weapons, no matter how chronologically old they happen to be.

  29. #30 MadScientist
    April 20, 2010

    @Doug: I’m all for gun control, but not general bans. For a lot of people out there, gun control = bans. Hell, we’ve seen that legislated, so you can’t call the gun nuts delusional for imagining that there are people out there saying they want “gun control” when what they really want is blanket firearms prohibition. The NRA though is opposed to even the most basic registrations.

  30. #31 MadScientist
    April 20, 2010

    @Dean: That’s a very good point. In fact I often say even many police are not appropriately trained and perhaps should not be issued firearms. It really does depend a lot on individual personalities. I would not hesitate to point a gun at lowlife and pull the trigger; I wouldn’t even have a twinge of regret in me (and I can say that from experience, this isn’t hypothetical bullshit). I’ve known people who were very good in competitions but they can’t even imagine pointing their pistols at a human. Going back to the police; now and then one gets killed because they refused to use their weapon but had their weapon taken off them. Some fire their weapon and kill the bad guy but are traumatized and quit their job. Others are too gung-ho and will happily draw a firearm and fire multiple times into a stark naked man who is not rushing towards them (no threat) and is obviously not armed. I don’t know if there is any way to test people’s attitude until after they’ve been put in encounters, but I think at the very least the peacenik police should be given the option to not carry firearms rather than force the firearms on them because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. There should also be no tolerance whatsoever for excessive use of force such as in the case of the naked guy.

  31. #32 Mark F.
    April 20, 2010

    daedalus2u: Well I can tell you that I didn’t see any indication of an agenda in Cullen’s book. And I did not say in my original comment that no bullying took place at Columbine. IIRC, Cullen addressed that issue in the book. There was bullying going on there. Based upon what Cullen found out however, Eric and Dylan were not targets of that bullying, and were not social outcasts at Columbine.

  32. #33 Doug
    April 20, 2010

    Mad,

    I agree, I own several guns, and I have to admit that I have always been fascinated by firearms. However, like any other potentially dangerous technology, guns must be regulated and gun owners must be subject to additional scrutiny based in their access to that technology. As I write this, all of my guns are registered and safely locked away. This, in my opinion, is the only way a privately owned gun should be when it is not being used for target shooting or hunting. Others are free to disagree, but this is my opinion on the matter. I am willing to be corrected, but I can’t recall a single, serious political initiative to ban guns. There have been attempts to ban certain types of guns. I favor some of those — there is no reason for a private citizen to own a fully automatic assault rifle. I oppose others.

  33. #34 Sevesteen
    April 20, 2010

    itzac pretty much has my attitude right–it isn’t that a license holder’s training or ability is superior to a cop’s, it is that the longer a situation goes before action is taken, the harder it is to contain. License holders are either right there when it happens or completely uninvolved–we don’t get called on to sort it out 5 or 15 minutes in. Someone pulls a weapon and demands your money, or someone starts firing into a crowd while you watch, it is pretty clear who the bad guy is. If you aren’t there when it starts, not so much.

  34. #35 Greg Laden
    April 20, 2010

    Sevesteen: How many times have you seen someone fire a gun during the commission of a crime?

  35. #36 Sevesteen
    April 20, 2010

    I’ve never seen a gun fired except at a gun range. I live in a small town, and don’t hang out with criminals, so I don’t even see much crime. Your point?

  36. #37 Greg Laden
    April 21, 2010

    Have you ever had someone point a firearm at you (seriously, not a toy gun or a friend acting stupidly with an unloaded weaon, etc.) with the expectation that they might actually fire it at you?

    Have you ever pointed a loaded firearm at another human being with the expectation that you might have to pull the trigger?

    Have you ever lived anywhere where you hear gunshots more or less daily? (And I’m not talking about hunting season!)

    Have you ever had any one actually shoot at you? Have you ever had to hide behind something hefty because you thought it might stop the bullets? Have you ever had to describe a firearm to a law enforcement officer because they were making a report regarding something you saw?

    I’m asking these questions because you talk like someone who’s never had a bullet fly close enough by you to feel the breeze, let alone actually engage in any of the activities you seem to know so much about.

  37. #38 Adam
    April 21, 2010

    Greg:

    This Columbine Anniversary gun nut show thing has been going on since the year after Columbine, is well documented, and always looks the same. No one has ever admitted what they are doing, and that is a lot like what gun nuts usually do … fail to take any responsibility at all for their juvenile hobby.

    Do you have any evidence to support this belief? There’s already been one other event cited which would explain why such events take place this time of year, and you say that the people having the events don’t admit what you claim they’re doing, so how do you know Columbine is the impetus? Were there no gun rights events prior to 1999?

  38. #39 Azkyroth
    April 21, 2010

    I would not hesitate to point a gun at lowlife and pull the trigger; I wouldn’t even have a twinge of regret in me (and I can say that from experience, this isn’t hypothetical bullshit).

    A perfect illustration of why unrestricted firearm ownership scares certain of us.

  39. #40 MadScientist
    April 21, 2010

    @Greg: I wasn’t saying that Rwanda proves anything, I’m just saying it’s an example of a situation you could hand pick if you wanted to make a ridiculous claim opposite to the “banning guns works miracles” claim. You can’t say that statistics supports any particular claim and then point out specific instances as if they had any relevance to the claim – statistics doesn’t work that way.

    Let’s see how many African nations I can get without any books or Google then – would the Arabian peninsula count? OK, I’ll leave that out then.

    Egypt, Libya, Ghana, Kenya, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Zaire, D.R. Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Djibhouti, Somalia, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea, Chad – and gee I’m lucky because I can’t think of any more at the moment but that was 20 and I was really straining after Sudan (unless I repeated some in which case I missed out on 20 – or I named a few places which are not in Africa). Just don’t ask for the capital cities.

    Now for your other checklist:
    1. had gun pointed at me by lowlife: yes
    2. pointed firearm at others? multiple occasions: check. Pulled trigger? one occasion: check
    3. gunshots more or less daily? No, nowhere near that frequently; I certainly don’t envy my research colleagues who go to places like D.R. Congo.
    4. been shot at: not directly, no, but had slugs rip through the roof and break a window when armed robbers being chased by the police started firing indiscriminately from their getaway vehicle. Had to describe firearms? Yeah, that was an interesting one – the gang involved in this one incident used galvanized pipes with a shotgun shell held in one end with tape; some splints held another short length of pipe to the end and that acted as a guide for the firing pin which was a small piece of wood with a nail in it. Whack the firing pin with a plank of wood and you get your single shot. I’m not sure what the hell model or manufacture of gun that was. I’d seen other interesting items in Papua New Guinea.

  40. #41 MadScientist
    April 21, 2010

    @itzac: That’s why when I used to help out my grandma in her shop I’d tell the checkout chicks that if anyone came demanding the money, just give it to them. You can always make the money back and the IRS understands that businesses get robbed, and whatever money happens to be in the register just isn’t worth the trouble of telling their families that they were hurt or killed for a goddamned pile of money. We didn’t even have these security cameras in those days; some things have changed a lot through the years and some things haven’t changed much. But I think you need to tell folks things like that, because some just attach far too much importance to the money so you have to get them to think the right way – forget the money. But even then, there are cases where the lowlife kill the folks anyway – I never told them that bit though.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t advocate allowing people to carry arms in public in Canada – you can see the good it does here: teabaggers – obnoxious dickless shits with guns. I’d prefer people keep their guns locked away and with a crucial component locked away elsewhere unless they’re going out to the target range or going hunting, in which case it should be locked to a rack or locked in a box which is not easily removed (fastened with hidden security bolts or welded) from their vehicle – and with that crucial bit still not attached until they reach their destination. It would be even better if people do not allow anyone access to their weapons without their direct supervision. “Oh, I never imagined my son would take the gun to school and kill people” is a lame excuse. I have no problem with most people owning firearms, but they should accept the responsibilities that the community may demand of them and which the governments may impose on behalf of the community.

  41. #42 MadScientist
    April 21, 2010

    @Doug: Ammo control? Gee, who was it – it may have been Dave Chappel saying something like: Hell, I say give ‘em guns for free – but charge like $600 a bullet. Yo, I’m goin’ to cap yo’ ass, mofo – yeah – just give me a few months to save up! And by that time he might have calmed down or forgotten about the whole thing …

    Maybe we’ve got to teach the kids some commie ideas like “civic responsibility” in school – now how can you teach kids so that they’re less likely to be so gung ho on bringing their guns to the movies and without the NRA besieging the school? We need people to understand it’s OK to own your gun, but if you’re in a large city and you carry it around like it was a part of you, you’re just a dick. That, however, doesn’t do much to address the whackos. Can anything be effective at preventing the whackos? That’s a really tough one.

  42. #43 Doug
    April 21, 2010

    “it is that the longer a situation goes before action is taken, the harder it is to contain. License holders are either right there when it happens or completely uninvolved–we don’t get called on to sort it out 5 or 15 minutes in.”

    Actually, this supports the point I made earlier. The legitimate authorities will show up, and as you noted they will not immediately know who’s who. They will therefore be forced to assume that anyone with a gun is a threat, and act accordingly. So instead of being able to bring the situation under control they will, 1) waste time sorting through who’s who, and 2) potentially endanger the innocent, if they mistakenly use deadly force against them. This is one the reasons why first responders at Columbine did not immediately engage — they were instructed by SOP not to, to avoid these sorts of problems. I have heard that some police and SWAT teams have modified their SOPs to allow freer use of force in spree shooter situations, which to my mind means that if I were present in one of these cases, I would not want to have a weapon, or look like any kind of a threat. Unlike ‘law-abiding citizens’ SWAT personnel tend to be very well trained, excellent marksman, and therefore quite capable of taking someone out quickly and effectively, whether they are the right person or the wrong one. Regardless, I go back to my original point, the vast majority of people are simply bad with guns — even those that try to train or practice with them. There’s nothing wrong with this, except when they don’t realize how inadequate they are and try to use those guns in situations for which they have no training or experience. About forty years ago, I saw fairly extensive combat, and was pretty good under fire, but I would still not trust myself in a shooting situation now. I also don’t trust anyone else. Leave law enforcement to the professionals.

    BTW, would still like to see references on the 1/5 statistic…

  43. #44 dean
    April 21, 2010

    “Statistically law abiding civilians shoot the wrong person at something like 1/5 the rate of police.”

    Still waiting for proof that this is more than your opinion.

    One more point about the comment in my previous post: even if a licensed gun-carrier is present when someone begins shooting, how does that (typically untrained) person move through the crowd of terrified people in order to get a clear shot at the “bad guy”?

    This is clearly selection bias on my part: I’ll take the opinion of someone I know, someone who has had special forces training and 10 years of military experience, over the thoughts of someone I’ve never met. That’s not a personal attack: it’s based on knowledge of the information source.

  44. #45 Sevesteen
    April 22, 2010

    @Dean: I can’t find the cite from an unbiased source with the effort I’m willing to give. Unless my memory is completely shot, police shoot the wrong person about 20% of the time, license holders about 2-5%. Once again, I emphasize that it isn’t because we are better than police, it is because we have much easier goals, and while “run and hide” might be cowardly if you’re a cop, if it is practical it is usually the right choice for the rest of us.

    @Doug: SOP has changed dramatically since Columbine–No more waiting to assemble the dream team while the shooting continues, current doctrine is use what you have as quickly as practical–even if that’s initially a single cop. You trade a relatively small risk of friendly fire for a near certain risk of more innocents being killed.

    As for “fighting my way through a crowd to take the shot”–in that case, I’m probably not going to even try to take the shot, we’ll have to hope for someone closer to step in.

    And confusing the police–the timing is unlikely. I’m not going to wander around waving my gun, it will stay holstered unless I’ve got a chance to do something useful with it. If I do engage the shooter it will be over in maybe 15 seconds, one way or another–either I get him, he gets me, or I’m out of ammo–I rarely carry more than 10 rounds. The chance that the police show up during that brief window of time and can’t distinguish between us before I surrender to them isn’t going to be the deciding factor in whether I defend.

  45. #46 gm davis
    April 23, 2010

    Cullen , who first reported on the story for the online magazine Salon, acknowledges in the book’s source notes that thoughts he attributes to Klebold and Harris are conjecture gleaned from the record the pair left behind.

    Jeff Kass takes a more straightforward approach in “Columbine: A True Crime Story,” working backward from the events of the fateful day.
    The Denver Post

    Mr. Cullen insists that the killers enjoyed “far more friends than the average adolescent,” with Harris in particular being a regular Casanova who “on the ultimate high school scorecard . . . outscored much of the football team.” The author’s footnotes do not reveal how he knows this; when I asked him about it while preparing this review, Mr. Cullen said he did not necessarily mean to imply that Harris was sexually active. But what else would such words mean?

    “Eric and Dylan never had any girlfriends,” the more sober Mr. Kass writes, and were “probably virgins upon death.”
    Wall Street Journal