Pharyngula

I’m not a fanatic about gun control—guns are dangerous tools, but so are chainsaws—but sometimes…man, sometimes I think we ought to put more restrictions on them to keep them out of the hands of dangerously stupid people. Take this story, for instance. A police officer hears a noise in his basement, suspects it’s an intruder, and the idiot takes a shot at whoever it is. Unfortunately, it turns out to be his 18 year old daughter sneaking into the house after a late night out.

So basically this guy was firing a handgun in his house at someone he hadn’t even tried to identify, using deadly force before he was at all confident it was necessary. He’s an incompetent boob, a danger to his family, and he shouldn’t be employed in a position where we have an expectation of responsible weapon use. Now that bozo is a walking argument for gun control.

Fortunately, the tragedy was minimized here because he only took out his daughter’s knee rather than slaughtering her.

(via lolife)

Comments

  1. #1 csrster
    May 31, 2007

    I keep tellin’ y’all, “America’s Dumbest Cops”, there’s a packet to be made in it.

  2. #2 wÒÓ?
    May 31, 2007

    ZOMG pwned.

  3. #3 amstrad
    May 31, 2007

    I have a friend who is an ER doctor (he was a resident at the time). He was getting really tired of treating gun shot wounds for innocent by-standers of gang violence.

    His solution: teach the gang members to shoot better. Less innocent people shot and less criminals over time… (the problem is you are left with a small number of really good shart shooting thugs).

  4. #4 Stwriley
    May 31, 2007

    Caledonian,
    I’ll concede that the point about training may not be 100% effective as a way to weed out all the morons, but I thing it would get a fair number of them because, if it was properly rigorous training the morons would be less likely to pass and thus be allowed to own guns. This is a point that hasn’t really been tested so we’ll have to leave it as a hypothesis for now and hope that it can be tested in the future.

    You are quite wrong, however, on the nature of gun training in early America for the majority of citizens. Most citizens lived in the more densely populated coastal zones and did not hunt themselves; that was a phenomenon of the relatively sparsely populated frontier regions. Most citizens received what firearms training they had and owned guns because it was a legal requirement in most colonies (and the states they became) for militia service, for which all able-bodied men were liable. Central authority (the colony or state in this case, though also the federal government after the Constitution) was critical to this process, for it was their organization of the militia that prompted and formed such training.

    The Constitution’s writers clearly put regulation of the militias into the Constitution itself (not the Bill of Rights, where the Second Amendment naturally resides) and intended that Congress should act to make the militias and their training better and more efficient. This did not happen in practice, for a variety of reasons, but the intent is quite clear both from the document itself and from what we know of the debates of the Constitutional Convention. So the argument that regulating guns now based on that idea is wrong is unsupportable.

    I’m afraid you have fallen prey to a myth about gun ownership and use that has been pushed for a long time by the anti-regulation forces. But it is a myth, no more valid than the myth of American exceptionalism. It is a very appealing myth too, one that seems to show the self-reliant spirit and the proper role of the family in raising their children to be good upstanding citizens and defenders of the nation. It also doesn’t stand up to the facts of history.

  5. #5 reason
    May 31, 2007

    Consider what idiot-proofing our civilization would actually require.

    A bit like blogs really!

  6. #6 Dural
    May 31, 2007

    “A former Springbok rugby player was charged with murder yesterday after he mistook his daughter for a car thief and shot her dead in the family’s driveway.

    Rudi Visagie, 44, apparently assumed that his daughter MarlÚ, 19, was asleep when he heard her Volkswagen Golf being driven away at 5am on Sunday from their smallholding in Maggiesdal, a rural area in Mpumalanga province.

    He got out of bed, took his 7.65mm pistol, and fired a shot through the bedroom window, police said.

    When he went outside he discovered his daughter slumped behind the wheel.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/southafrica/story/0,13262,1224059,00.html

  7. #7 Mooser
    May 31, 2007

    I have noticed an alarming tendency exhibited by the commentors here on this subject. Several of you have recounted actual experiences with firearms.
    This is not an acceptable method of discourse when firearms are the subject. My freakin’ Gawd, people, next you’ll be brandishing charts and statistics!!

    When guns are discussed, the only admittable evidence is the precis of old TV show plots and movie scenarios, along with imaginary victories over desperately colored intruders. What You would have done, anotherwords.

    Facts are out of place here! And watch out for drive-by chainsawings! Duck! Hit the ground when you see the arborist’s truck!

  8. #8 Jim Lippard
    May 31, 2007

    Stwriley: You’re not living in Wisconsin now, are you?

  9. #9 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    Unfortunately for them he had a concealed carry permit, and he promptly drew his gun and shot one of them, killing him.

    That’s called “excess of self-defense”. It’s a crime, and punishable as such.

    OK, maybe not in the USA. What do I know. Certainly not in southern Florida, where you actually have the right to shoot first and ask questions later.

  10. #10 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    “An armed society is a polite society”

    Sure. It holds very moving funerals, with eulogies even for Jerry Foulwill.

  11. #11 Sean
    May 31, 2007

    Ahh, guns. One of the subjects where otherwise rational people start acting like creobots. There are legitimate arguments to be made in support of a variety of levels of gun control. Unfortunately those arguments get mixed in and diluted with absolutely false claims.

    Just as I often ponder when encountering a new creobot, are these claims being made because one is ignorant, mislead, or simply lying for the perceived greater good?

    Modern high-quality rifles are accurate up to several miles

    This one just jumped out at me more than most. The longest shot ever recorded was made by a trained Canadian sniper firing a dedicated bolt action .50 caliber sniper rifle and the support of four additional soldiers. Assisted by thin high mountain air, it was a few yards over one and a half miles. It took three shots.

    I live in hunting country. I hear way too many hunting stories year round. Shots made at 1/3 of a mile are considered superb long range shooting. Up that distance to around 2/3s of a mile with a custom tooled rifle and one is considered a long range god.

    Accurate up to several miles my tender derriere.

  12. #12 Sean
    May 31, 2007

    Guns exist for one reason only: killing.

    Recall the lot of them. They appear to be defective.

    Working from memory. Roughly 200 million civilian owned guns in the United States. The peak firearm homocide annual total was about 20,000 back around 1990.

    I suppose if one includes animal killing the ratio shifts significantly, but hunting is generally considered another issue.

  13. #13 Luna_the_cat
    May 31, 2007

    Yes, Ichthyic, thank you for that tea-snort-over-the-keyboard moment…!

  14. #14 Kseniya
    May 31, 2007

    Yeah yeah, but Ichthydude! After, you know, the Fall, when T-Rex became really cranky and had to be extinguished by The Flood, or like, whatever, Adam had to find another way to open coconuts, so he invented the blunderbuss and cultivated grapenuts for ammo and then traveled to China to invent gunpowder. Without Adam’s tireless efforts, there’d be no Pi˝a Coladas or Mounds bars today. Praise God!

  15. #15 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    ichty….ich…tschyt, whatever, you know as well as I do that coconuts were designed to be opened by T-Rexes, just like bananas were designed to be opened by creationists.

  16. #16 Science Avenger
    May 31, 2007

    I’m with Sean – nothing reduces the level of discourse like guns, getting otherwise intelligent people to say absurd things. This one jumped out at me:

    People who rely on guns for home safety most often have their guns taken from them, because the criminal is more experienced in this.

    This from the guy selling pepper spray, and its about as objective as you’d expect from someone describing a competing product. Burglars aren’t looking for a fight, and the vast majority of them faced with a homeowner brandishing a gun are going to do the same thing the Miami burglar did when faced with a homeowner brandishing a sword – run like hell. Only a guy enjoying a PCP high is going to try to grab a gun out of someone’s hand.

    Guns exist for one reason only: killing.

    What political claptrap. Objectively, guns exist to propel a piece of metal at high velocity at an intended target. The most common target is…a target, a piece of paper with lines drawn on it. Here is a breakdown of gun deaths in the U.S. Notice:

    1) The total is around 30,000. 30,000 out of 300 million. That’s 1 person in 10,000. Yes, every death is tragic, but as a national issue, it just doesn’t warrant the attention it gets.

    2) 57% of the deaths are suicides. So whatever overall risk we all have of dying by gun, if you don’t plan on killing yourself, you just cut it in half.

    3) The number of accidental deaths is microscopic. So tragic as it is when a child finds dad’s gun and shoots her schoolmate, it’s irrelevant to a discussion of public policy.

    4) Notice how strong the correlation is between the age of the homicide victims and the ages traditionally associated with high crime. By the time you are 45, your risk of being murdered with a handgun is 1/5 what it is when you are 20. It is VERY hard to reconcile that relationship with the idea that its all about the guns.

    And while anecdotes might be entertaining, they are illustrations, not evidence. As such, I offer one friend’s experience. He was home and heard a noise, looked out the window, and saw a young man who had broken into his car rummaging around in it. My friend’s car had been broken into before, so he was extra peeved. He went and got his gun, walked outside to within 30 or so feet of the car, pointed the gun at the kid and yelled “Son! You’re about to DIE!”. The kid looked up, saw my friend pointing the weapon at him, jumped out of the car and ran like hell down the alley he presumably came from. My friend went on about his day, and no, his car was never broken into again.

    No one died, the gun performed a purpose without killing anyone, and it won’t show up in any of the crime statistics. From my experiences with, and the story’s I’ve heard from the many real gun owners I know, (as opposed to the TV caricatures that so many here think represent reality), I suspect my friend’s incident was far more typical than was the subject of this article, or even your typical murder.

    And no, I’m not a gun nut. I own one gun, it was given to me as a gift, and it sits now somewhere in my closet, having not been shot in years. I don’t even like guns, and frankly, if they banned them tomorrow I really, personally, wouldn’t give a rat’s posterior. Here in Texas that practically makes me a commie. I just know a lot of gun owners, and I’m an actuary, and just too much of what is said about guns makes no sense to either sensibility. So a gun in the house is more likely to kill a family member than an intruder. So what? So is the family dog, your sword, or your bathtub. Hell, for that matter, given the really bad drug bust flubs that happen, so are the cops! It doesn’t do any good to get good data if you’re asking the wrong questions, or getting your information from movies.

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    you know as well as I do that coconuts were designed to be opened by T-Rexes, just like bananas were designed to be opened by creationists.

    i see no reason both couldn’t be true.

    I gain joy in your revelation, brother!

    hallelujah!

    Do you think it possible that creationists were specifically designed to open bananas, too?

    but of course!

    it’s obvious to anybody who has any common sense.
    :P

  18. #18 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    ichty… i°aqoerh… iszhtgy…

    http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/i/i0013500.html
    ;)

  19. #19 frodo
    May 31, 2007

    Well, the general fishiness of your name doesn’t make it any easier to write.

    And I have to ask: Do you believe in The Landscape? Susskinds book is the only place where I’ve come across loveley fishiness.

  20. #20 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    The total is around 30,000. 30,000 out of 300 million. That’s 1 person in 10,000. Yes, every death is tragic, but as a national issue, it just doesn’t warrant the attention it gets.

    Ah, really?

    Compare that “1 person in 10,000″ figure to those of a couple of other countries. And weep.

    57% of the deaths are suicides. So whatever overall risk we all have of dying by gun, if you don’t plan on killing yourself, you just cut it in half.

    For my tastes, the suicide number is too high, too… what if you couldn’t simply go, buy a gun, and shoot yourself? What are the chances you’d really jump from some high place?

    And on that whole self-defense issue. In the USA, do the police not come when you call them? Over here it’s a serious option to just let the robber proceed and call the police when he’s gone. But it’s a rather hypothetical one anyway — burglars tend to make sure that you’re not in your home before they enter. Weapons, usually fake, are chiefly carried by bank robbers over here.

  21. #21 Wolfger
    May 31, 2007

    Yes, you are right. This bozo is a walking argument for gun control. Fortunately, there are also walking arguments against gun control.

  22. #22 Ichthyic
    May 31, 2007

    I have a purpose and reason for owning a firearm. It is to make a bang and accelerate a small piece of metal. Should a newly acquired firearm not do that, it will be returned as defective for not meeting my purpose and reason for owning it.

    also has nothing to do with the statistics used in your “sarcastic” metaphor used in your earlier post, now, does it.

    keep movin’ those goalposts.

  23. #23 Science Avenger
    June 1, 2007

    Sebastian said: The only way you can defend yourself with a gun is by shooting FIRST, which puts any halfway ethical person at a disadvantage, because they have to make certain that they are really in danger. Thus the home invasion scenario above is heavily stacked against the home owner and in favor of the criminal.

    Bad premise. One can also defend oneself with a gun by merely brandishing it, which likely happens very often, since most people’s reaction to being confronted with an armed defender is to call off the attack (ie run). This isn’t the movies, where all conflicts are fought to the death. The movies don’t often show the bad guys running away because it’s boring, not because it’s realistic.

  24. #24 Robert
    June 2, 2007

    Two reasons that gun control will ultimately fail (especially in this century):
    http://www.reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

    http://fab.cba.mit.edu/