Addendum: The National Review and the deaths of schoolchildren

20 Dec
December 20, 2012

In the discussions that have followed the Newtown tragedy, I thought myself ready for just how much abstraction and distraction would be offered so that we might avoid focusing on the actual metallic instruments that fire actual projectiles that end actual lives. I’d heard it all before, and I assumed I’d hear it all again.  But no, I just encountered this essay, authored by Charlotte Allen.

For real.

Are the seeming adults who claim to be in command the National Review so committed to the ideological that they are ready and willing to twist childhood, or the culture and purpose of a classroom, or even the benign and essential role of the grade-school teacher, into something altogether hideous?

Read the Review and weep for our pathetic, feminized educator class, devoid of any shred of warrior ethos.  Oh, those ineffectual teachers, thinking they were there to teach young children, when so much more was clearly called for.  They went like Jews to the ovens — unready, underarmed, and outmanned, falling all over themselves to be victims when they should have just pulled their own semiautos from desk drawers and dropped the bastard. And let’s not forget those indulged, naive schoolboys who in a hardier culture might have banded together and rushed the gunman. What are these weak-sister parents teaching their progeny, when clearly our brave new world demands manly survival skills before middle school?  And what in hell are the colleges and universities conveying to our primary educators about the art and craft of teaching that it doesn’t include marksmanship and small-unit platoon tactics?

I read the essay twice, trying to convince myself that it was parody, that it was some unpolished overreach into tasteless satire.  But no, this is in earnest.  I link to it here to remind everyone that any serious discussion about gun violence must inevitably navigate into the white, molten core of pure, moronic venality.  That someone could be found to pen such an essay is remarkable enough.  Ten thousand chimpanzees banging at ten thousand laptops could not produce something so soulless, so utterly debased. But that the editors of any serious publication could then be induced to offer it on their pages without stomach-turning shame is simply epic.

It’s not enough for some to sacrifice twenty school children to our great god of the gun.  No, there are actually Americans prepared to throw childhood itself — and those in our society who commit their lives in service of that childhood — on the pyre.

God help us all.

 

 

204 replies
  1. Plebontheweb says:

    You seem pretty upset that someone thinks that a mass murderer should have been prevented – by some of his intended victims – from committing mass murder.

    That comes across as very f**king sick and soulless itself, as I’m sure you’ll agree if you give it the slightest thought.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      My, that is a perverse way of shaping reality to fit your political stance.

      I’m not upset at anything remotely resembling your corruption of the reality here. I’m upset at blaming the child victims for their own demise, of writing in no uncertain terms that if they weren’t coddled schoolchildren, but properly prepped for such carnage as was visited on them, that they would be alive. That is exactly what upsets me. Why? Because it was a venal, twisted, inhumane argument. And your defense of it is as necessarily twisted because on its face, without your absurd hyperbole, it was indefensible. Sorry.

      Reply
      • Anna Tarkov says:

        May I just say David, that your level of engagement in online debate would put even the most dedicated blogger to shame. I know, I have been a dedicated blogger. You are a credit to the Internet, truly. The fact that you engage at this level, especially with your other responsibilities, is nothing short of remarkable. I’m not blowing smoke up your ass, I promise. The paywall discussion on the Columbia Journalism Review website is still one of the highlights of my (online) life. Cheers to you. If you ever come to Chicago, let me know.

        Reply
      • Plebontheweb says:

        “My, that is a perverse way of shaping reality to fit your political stance.”

        What would my ‘political stance’ be, pray tell?

        I’ll allow that I’m clearly not of the same mindset of your regular commentators, so I’m not going to be doing as they do. I’m not going to be trying really hard NOT to notice that the idea of someone intent on carrying out a mass shooting facing resistance makes you angry. Much the same way that you disdain the idea of a mass shooter facing the possibility of ARMED resistance from his intended victims.

        Now what exactly do those two strains of thought have in common?

        “I’m not upset at anything remotely resembling your corruption of the reality here. I’m upset at blaming the child victims for their own demise…”

        Allow me to share a little story with you. You’ll have to forgive me for not exactly recalling where I read it, but it goes as follows –

        We have two teachers taking a class together (one male, one female) when a gun-toting stranger happened to burst in on them. The male teacher’s response was to yell ‘everyone under their desks!’ and do exactly that himself. Leaving the female teacher to grapple with the gunman, thankfully she was successful in wrestling the gun away and subduing the gunman.

        Now, if we point out that diving under the tables is going to prove to be of f**k-all use when the gunman’s right there in the room with them, and that a more successful strategy might be to attempt to fight rather than take flight, are we VICTIM BLAMING? If we further point out that it’s probably advantageous to try to cultivate the necessary mindset ahead of time i.e. ‘planning for emergencies’, are we VICTIM BLAMING? If we go further still and offer that those teachers should be allowed to carry firearms so that they don’t have to fight off gunmen with their bare hands, are we VICTIM BLAMING?

        All of your overheated guff about ‘sacrificing children to the great god of the gun’ (and of course you’ve talked to many, many gun owners, which is exactly how you know they ‘worship’ guns) seems like a method of distracting yourself from the hard and ugly truth that in creating ‘gun free zones’, all you’ve accomplished is declaring to the world that there exist areas where those intent on mass shootings KNOW they can kill as many people as they like without being stopped. They KNOW that, and that knowledge – and the results of that knowledge – are things your ilk have helped to bring about.

        If it was me – if I’d been one of the ones who’d worked so very hard to push for the creation of these areas, and then seen what happens when a mass shooter comes along and takes advantage of them– I’d seriously reconsider the wisdom of having ‘gun-free zones’ in light of that sort of thing happening. You?

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Your gun love is pathology. Your belief in firearms as a solution to the problem of increased firepower and the application of random violence is astonishing. You are free to pursue this line of argument, of course. The more you endeavor to do so, the more apparent the depth of your delusions. Keep going. I can assure you, it doesn’t sound to rational ears as you think it does. It is affirming in an altogether different way.

          America has some of the most liberal firearms laws in the world, and the most liberal firearms laws in the Western world. We have the highest rates of gun violence and gun death in the Western world. And now, because of the transformational power of semiautomic ballistics as the norm, fully three-quarters of the mass killings in the world occur on U.S. soil. Despite the fact that we are 6 percent of world population.

          Somehow, nations as varied as the U.K. and Japan and Germany and Spain and Canada have not followed your remedy against victimhood. They have instead significantly restricted the availability of firearms and their rates of violence are minute compared to our own.

          Your solution, regardless? More guns! Guns for everyone. Manly teachers with guns. Armed officers in grade schools. Guns in theaters. Guns in shopping malls. Guns under the bed. Guns in the bed. Guns, guns, guns. More, more, more. And all the while the rest of the civilized world has ignored your peculiarly American passion and emerged in the 21st century with societies that have only a minute share of our violence.

          I’m sorry. But your argument is simply pathological. Perhaps, I can mitigate the regrettable necessity of the ad hominem here to say, with sincerity, that it is no longer your fault. You can’t help it; we know. It’s just the disease talking.

          Reply
          • Plebontheweb says:

            Pathology…simply pathological…the disease talking…I suppose that shows what happens when you ask a leftist an honest question, they take it as a cue to double-down on hysteria and insulting behaviour.
            Then there’s the other question that still lingers, about whether you feel psychos, you know, taking advantage of gun-free zones is a drawback to having them. Clearly, you don’t feel it is. Clearly, you feel that despite psychos making such heinous use of gun-free zones, we should continue to have them. I suppose that explains your shrieking so loudly about how gun owners are ‘sacrificing children to the god of the gun’. It’s aimed at distracting people from the fact that the only side that wants to ‘sacrifice’ people for the sake of their beliefs is YOUR side.
            I like you believing that you can con people into believing your ranting and use of ad-hominems is ‘rational’ by baldly declaring it to be such. You don’t have a lot of respect for people’s intelligence, do you?
            To think, the creator of one of the most lauded, most brilliant TV programs to have ever been created can turn into some two-bit shrieking fanatic simply by having his attitudes questioned. Kids, this is what being a member of the church of leftism does for you.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              This constitutes your last post here. Not because we fundamentally disagree or because you are strident in your disagreement, but because you are genuinely dishonest in your pursuit of argument. I was ad hominem with you, but your tone, from the very first, invited such, and now, more tellingly, in order to advance your arguments, you’ve been caught manufacturing an entire premise from whole cloth.

              Please refer to your post and my reply below this one, in which you seek to and to create an entire fictive world in which suspicious deaths are ruled homicides as a matter of course by American medical examiners. This does not happen in America for fundamental legal and structural reasons. In fact, the opposite occurs under both state medical examiner and state coroner systems: Many probable homicides, lacking definitive proof that they are the result of human intervention are “pended” or ruled unattended or undetermined deaths.

              That you are willing to manufacture entire fictive worlds in order to advance your arguments means that it is pointless to engage with you. That was simply astounding, and given that you posted on the website of a person who actually spent several years researching the process of death investigation in America and writing a book about same, the stupidity of the lie is without compare.

              Disagreement is welcome here, argument is expected. Lying to butress an argument is unpardonable.

              Webmistress, to your kill file with this one.

              Reply
          • Plebontheweb says:

            Just as an aside, you might want to reconsider putting the UK forward as an example of ‘how things could be better’ than in the US. For one thing, you’re comparing a country which basically records each suspicious death as a homicide (the US) with a country that goes to any lengths it can to fiddle it’s own murder statistics (the UK). If the UK were to use the same statistical methods as the US does, their total number of murders would be far, far higher, anything from approx 1200 to 4700 for the year 2011.

            This is discussed at the following links – http://rboatright.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/comparing-england-or-uk-murder-rates.html – as well as at – http://extranosalley.com/?p=35909 .

            I guess we’ll see who’s the rational one, based on whether you visit and are willing to discuss those links or not (of course, you might very well get a kick out of one country using dishonest tactics to look better than the other country).

            For another thing, you also should bear in mind that in the UK, quite often, you can, together with a number of your friends, get stinking blind drunk and then proceed to beat the shit out of innocent bystanders, secure in the knowledge that, when you find yourself being found ‘guilty’ in court, the judge will as likely as not decide you’re to be spared jail time.

            You can even, together with a number of your friends, kidnap and torture a metally-disabled young man for three days, and after having been found ‘guilty’ by a jury of your peers, find yourself again being turned loose by the judge who has – you’ve guessed it – decided against a custodial sentence, thus affording you and your friends the chance to chase the victim out of the city for having grassed you up (‘grass’ = ‘snitch’).

            Yes, the UK authorities have by and large decided to deal with the issue for violent crime by deciding that the effects that violence has on people are perfectly all right with them. You really do not want to hold the UK as a shining beacon of hope. You really don’t.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              You’ve just exposed yourself here.

              You’re talking to someone who spent years actually covering the crime beat, and reporting in detail on how cause and manner and death is determined by American medical examiners. Wait, it’s worse than that for you. I spent an entire year going in and out of a state medical examiner’s office, charting the very methodology by which cause and manner of death were determined by professional pathologists. More than that, I wrote an entire fucking book about the process of death investigation in America. Then, in Louisiana and Orleans parish specifically, I’ve been engaged in a narrative that looks directly at how the coroner here avoided classifying a variety of deaths as homicides.

              “…which basically records each suspicious death as a homicide…”

              Never was a more inaccurate sentence constructed, at least on this website. Tens of thousands of suspicious or unattended or undetermined deaths are determined to be suspicious/unattended/pended deaths all through the United States as a matter of routine. A pathologist who rules any death a homicide without definitive proof that human intervention caused the death will pretty much end his career the first time such a case goes to court. He will destroy his credibility and be unable to work as pathologist for any state.

              You either:

              1) Know zero about how cause and manner of death is classified in America, and just how many suspicious deaths fall into categories other than homicide. And further, you understand nothing about the legal implications and career risk of any pathologist who calls something a homicide that can’t be proven to be a homicide. Yet your ignorance did not restrain you from asserting actual knowledge.

              Or

              2) You are one of those people who get on the internet and, to win an argument, you just make shit up.

              Either way, I can’t take you seriously after that last post. That was astonishing. Try to remember that there are people in the world who actually can summon actual facts in response to your ridiculous fantasies. To that end, if you still wish to participate on this website, take stock of just how manufactured your premise is, how little you actually you know about death investigation in America, and retract your make-believe. Or welcome to the permanent kill file.

              I am entirely committed to arguing the facts and seeing where those arguments lead. And those who disagree with me are entitled to do so. But the manufacture of facts and the sale of manufactured facts is unacceptable in this corner of the internet.

              Reply
    • Plebontheweb says:

      I’m confused. Do you want to ban me because you can’t handle your anti-gun stance being attacked, or do you not?

      Anyway, I said;

      ‘I guess we’ll see who’s the rational one, based on whether you visit and are willing to discuss those links or not’

      And…you didn’t. Instead, you made two posts ranting and raving about one cherry-picked sentence. Whyever would you DO that? Perhaps because you think it’ll give you a cheap and easy way to look good in the eyes of your imagined audience? Frankly, both of your posts together just come across as a primate display of dominance. Which is hardly rational.

      So I think I’ll just post one of those links in its entirety and you can, if you feel up to it, take issue with that instead. Let’s see how committed to discussing facts you really are.

      ~~~
      First, lets get this out of the way. I’m not going to fuss here about the terms “England”, “The U.K”, “Great Britain”, “The Olde Country” or “The folks with those classy accents who live on some islands off the coast of Europe.” I’ll be careful to cite things in the links, but don’t chew me up on where I’m talking about.

      On to the oopsie. I have frequently in this series referred to the English murder rates as historically low and currently very low compared to US murder rates. I blandly accepted the murder statistics published by the UK Home Office as definitive. I overlooked the details of what and how the English counted “murders.” It turns out that was a big mistake. (I was first turned onto my error by this post at Extrano’s Alley.)

      I fell into a definitions trap you may not be aware of. The shortest version is this. We count and report crimes based on initial data. The Brits count and report crimes based on the outcome of the investigation and trial. Yep, that says what I meant it to say.

      In the US, the count of people murdered kept by the FBI is pretty darned straightforward. Got a body, not natural causes, not suicide? Must be murder of one sort or another. Count it.

      So, if you ask the FBI, they will tell you that for 2011 there were 14,022 murders or non-negligent manslaughters. On the same line of that chart, they tell us the population was 292,364,075 which gives us a “murder” rate of 4.8 per 100,000 population. Those counts are based on crimes reported by local police agencies. They say nothing about the clearance rate, nor if anyone was ever identified or charged or convicted or whatever. Body, not natural, not negligent, homicide. Duh.

      Now, on to England. It turns out that the Home office is very restrictive in what they report as “murders.” Still, looking at the detailed report for 2010/2011 the Home office tells us that in the reporting period there were 636 murders “provisionally recorded” for a murder rate of 1.15 per 100,000 — less than 1/3 the murder rate in the US. (See page 16 of the source document)

      I’ve reported these numbers blindly many times, and quoted sources with many (sometimes silly) explanations for the lower murder rate in the UK. There’s a problem with that as it turns out. What about all those murders which were not solved? The ones where a conviction wasn’t gotten? The ones where the appeals are still on-going? Not only that, but when exactly were these homicides performed? The nice folks at the Home Office tell us:
      Homicides are often complex and it can take time for cases to pass through the criminal justice system (CJS). Due to this, the percentage of homicides recorded in 2010/11 (and, to a lesser extent, thoserecorded in earlier years) to have concluded at Crown Court is likely to show an increase when thenext figures from the Homicide Index are published in 12 months? time.
      But in any event, according to a report to a select committee of Parliment:
      Since 1967, homicide figures for England and Wales have been adjusted to exclude any cases which do not result in conviction
      Note that the numbers provided were for murders “recorded” in 2010/2011, not murders “performed” in 2010/2011. The killing might have happened a decade ago. As a matter of fact, when a serial murderer was found out and convicted of some 172 odd killings over the course of two decades, all his murders got counted onto one year! Quoting from the previously cited Home Office report:
      Caution is needed when looking at longer-term homicide trend figures, primarily because they are based on the year in which offences are recorded by the police rather than the year in which the incidents took place. For example, the 172 homicides attributed to Dr Harold Shipman as a result of Dame Janet Smith?s inquiry took place over a long period of time but were all recorded by the police during 2002/03. Also, where several people are killed by the same principal suspect, the number of homicides counted is the total number of persons killed rather than the number of incidents. For example, the victims of the Cumbrian shootings on 2 June 2010 are counted as 12 homicides rather than one incident in the 2010/11 data. (Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2010/11 page 16)
      OOOoooooops. We’re not comparing apples to apples, we’re comparing apples to meatloaf.

      Wait! I have a clever idea! Instead of going to the Home Office crime stats, let us go grab the death register numbers! (Link to excel spreadsheet) (essentially the same as the US CDC wisqars data) That leads to some odd things… (See Table 2 in the linked spreadsheet.)

      In 2011 329 people died from “assault”, 27 by poisoning (not suicide or work related), 361 by strangulation (not suicide), 127 by non-accidental or suicidal drowning, 7 with guns, 2 with explosives, 20 by stabbing, 62 pushed from a high place, 21 run over, and another 198 of “other specified events in various places” .

      I make that 1154 violent deaths of interest to the police which would in the US be reported as murders, and that doesn’t include every death that might be a murder since the “cause of death” of a murder or manslaughter victim might well be an infection or other medical complication resulting from an injury during a crime or assault. That death would be classed as murder in the US but I can’t pull it out from the causes of death numbers. Never the less at a minimum this gives us about double the number of “Murders” in England as was reported in the Home Office crime stats. Edit Quick math says that if 636 deaths was a rate of 1.15 per 100,000 then 1154 is 2.08 per 100k. Still substantially lower than the US rate, but substantially higher than the Home Office number.

      There is another data source. You would think that you could go to the UK’s dept of Justice and look at the outcome of Coroner’s inquests to find homicides. Yep, you’d think that, but over the last decade coroners have taken to producing “narrative” verdicts instead of calling something a homicide Edit or an accident or negligent or whatever. It’s a way of avoiding making a causal decision at the level of a cornoner’s inquest. This is due to two different forces acting on them. First, the 1988 Coroner’s act. Quoting from the decision in the “Middleton” case:
      The 1988 Act recognises that a death which is the subject of an inquest may also be the subject of criminal proceedings, and also recognises the general undesirability of investigating publicly at an inquest evidence pertinent to a forthcoming criminal trial. In a departure from previous practice, section 11(6) of the Act provides:
      “At a coroner’s inquest into the death of a person who came by his death by murder, manslaughter or infanticide, the purpose of the proceedings shall not include the finding of any person guilty of the murder, manslaughter or infanticide; and accordingly a coroner’s inquisition shall in no case charge a person with any of those offences.”
      Thus the inquest jury may no longer perform its former role as a grand jury. Section 16 of the Act (and rules 27 and 28 of the Rules) make provision for the adjourning of an inquest when criminal proceedings are or may be pending on certain specified charges or in certain specified circumstances (but not solely because any criminal proceedings arising out of the death of the deceased have been instituted: rule 32 of the Rules). After the conclusion of criminal proceedings the coroner may resume the adjourned inquest “if in his opinion there is sufficient cause to do so” (section 16(3)). Section 17A makes provision for the adjourning of an inquest when a public inquiry into a death is to be conducted or chaired by a judge. A coroner may only resume an inquest so adjourned “if in his opinion there is exceptional reason for doing so”, and then subject to conditions (section 17A (4)). (Highlighting above is mine.)
      The second force is the Middleton decision itself… which I’ll let you read. From an American’s perspective, it’s very odd.

      Sorry about the long aside, back to murders. Remember that 657 number from the Home Office? The Coroners only called 229 of the cases they determined a cause of death on a homicide, and in 4400 cases they filed a “narrative verdict” describing the cause of death in a narrative manner without putting it in a category. If those 4400 cases are what we would normally call murders Big Edit starts here that would suggest that the correct number of “violent deaths of interest to the police” is on the order of 4700 for 2011, then the UK murder rate is 8.5 per 100,000 or about 177% of the US murder rate. Now, honestly, we don’t know what conclusion as to cause the coroner would have reached if they weren’t using It’s entirely possible that very few of them would have been classed as homicides. We don’t know. My point here isn’t that the English death rates should be quoted from the highest available but rather, no matter which source I attempt to use, I can’t actually get an apples to apples comparison. The data simply isn’t available.

      In the comments, Cam found this interesting link on the effect of narrative verdicts on mortality statistics from 2010. Cam helpfully runs the numbers to suggest that using this percentage breakdown of the narrative verdicts would increase the UK murder count by 308. So, we have the “original 657 plus the “reconstructed” coroner’s number of 308 giving 965 potential homicides. This is about 200 less than I got from the cause of death numbers, but I think these numbers are for England only and don’t include Wales, where the coroner’s system is different. (Lots of countries and lots of legal systems in a very small space. The entirety of England, Scotland, Wales and both Irelands would fit comfortably in Kansas and Nebraska with lots of space left over.) So I think this analysis is confirming.

      So, essentially, I conclude that the English murder rate, when analysed using the same criteria as the US murder rate, based on inputs rather than outcomes, is on the close order of double the Home Office rate of 1.15.

      In the first version prior to edits of this post I noted that I had English Journalism sources which cited a much higher number of approximately 4700 deaths in 2011 which would be called “Violent deaths of interest to the police” which would generate a murder rate of nearly 8.5 per 100,000. Sadly, my original sources have disappeared into the link-rot common on commercial web sites. I am searching for, and if I can find printed copies of those sources, or alternate sources of the same information, I will put those links into a future Blog post. End of Big Edit

      I know, I know, there’s no way I’m going to get most of my friends to read this, much less get people like Piers Morgan and his ilk to believe it much less repeat it, but still, here’s the short version:
      The murder rate in the UK is either equal to or higher than the murder rate in the US. (Sources not available. See reduced conclusion instead.)

      The murder rate in the UK according to US standards is double or higher than their reported rate. It may be impossible to produce an actual apples to apples comparison number from official sources. It is not 15% of the US rate.

      Note also that this is the MURDER rate, irrespective of the METHOD of the murder. I utterly refuse to get into the discussion of “gun violence.” A death is a death.

      Closing note: Thanks to the excellent commentators for additional sources and for math error catches. You all are great. -_ Rick

      ~~~
      P.S. If you’re proposing to ban someone, it doesn’t really suggest that you’re confident in your own position, does it? Also, should you really be accusing me of being ‘dishonest’, considering you want to ban me? And deliberately resort to ad-hominems?

      As well as citing the Killeen, Texas shooting as an example of how guns don’t avert mass shootings, despite having no excuse for not knowing that the actual shooting took place in a restaurant where the patron had barred guns from the premises? THAT’S dishonesty.

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        I have honest-to-god writing to do for deadlines, so this will have to end. But if you are capable of intellectual embarrassment, this will end it, regardless. Quoted below is the very premise on which all that other verbiage you present is predicated; it is a lie, a canard, an absolute fabrication. I know it from an entire career of reportage and personal observation and a deeper understanding of death investigation than you — or whoever this fool is you are quoting — can apparently muster:

        “In the US, the count of people murdered kept by the FBI is pretty darned straightforward. Got a body, not natural causes, not suicide? Must be murder of one sort or another. Count it.

        So, if you ask the FBI, they will tell you that for 2011 there were 14,022 murders or non-negligent manslaughters. On the same line of that chart, they tell us the population was 292,364,075 which gives us a “murder” rate of 4.8 per 100,000 population. Those counts are based on crimes reported by local police agencies. They say nothing about the clearance rate, nor if anyone was ever identified or charged or convicted or whatever. Body, not natural, not negligent, homicide. Duh.

        Now, on to England. It turns out that the Home office is very restrictive in what they report as “murders…”

        Italics mine at the critical fabrication. In the forelorn hope that the American bloodletting can be obscured by the unfounded and unsourced suggestion that the U.K. and U.S. are counting their murders differently, the author of the above has simply made shit up. Fabricated. Lied. Deceived. Pretended to facts that do not fucking exist. He’s hoping to convince people that apples and oranges are being compared when they are decidedly not. He’s just corrupted the stats from jump. And here’s how:

        The FBI doesn’t tally murders. No, the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics don’t have any independent review of any of the casework at all. That is not their role. Instead, they take the crime reporting from local law enforcement organization and compile them statistically, without independent review, and create the state, local and national crime rates for UCR felonies. That’s all they do.

        It is up to local law enforcement, usually in conjunction with a state medical examiner or country coroner, to determine what is a murder, what is a suicide, what is an undetermined death. It is within the perogative of those state and local agencies to “pend” a case and issue no cause or manner of death pending the discovery of additional evidence. Cases can remain pended or undetermined for decades in the U.S. and are so, frequently. It is up to local authorities to determine whether a homicide is a murder, or whether a questionable death is an undetermined or natural or legally justiable death. The national crime stats in America are tallied only after all of these pended, or justifiable, or undetermined deaths are leeched from the system.

        Get it? THIS IS PRECISELY THE SAME RELATIONSHIP as the fool author of the above has “discovered” in the U.K. There as well, the determination of when a questionable death, or even a homicide, is a murder is made at the investigative level, involving an inquest by trained pathologists, in the same fashion as in America. So, as in America, the Home Office — fulfilling the equivalent role of the FBI here — is reporting a reduced number of murders from the overall number of originally suspicious or undetermined deaths. That’s not because they’re hiding murders, but because all deaths are not murder, or even homicides. And by the way, the difference in legal definition between a homicide and a murder is distinct and unequivocal. They aren’t the same thing. A homicide refers to the legal cause of death. And it is a medical-based definition. It means any death caused by human intervention, meaning if you kill someone in wartime, or in self-defense, or by accident — it’s a homicide, legally. A murder is a homicide with intent, or gross neglience, in the case of prosecutable manslaughter. It is a subset of the larger set of people-killing-people. When the Baltimore Police Department reports its murders to the FBI, they leave out not only all the questionable or undetermined deaths, but those killings that they have determined not to be murders. As a result, the American UCR stats don’t measure all suspicious deaths or even all homicides in computing the crime rates every year, as the above fabricator claims; no, they measure murder and non-negligent manslaughters only.

        That’s the same thing as in the U.K. Your hero author has stumpled on the same, practical process by which law enforcement figures out its murder rate in both countries. But either from ignorance or deceit, he argues that the Brits are doing something different; they are not. It makes complete sense that the number of suspicious deaths cited by the U.K. Home Office would be significantly less than the number of questionable deaths. Just as if you took the gross number of American deaths that are suspicious or questionable or undetermined last year, it would always be much higher than the 14,000 figure that the FBI offers for 2012 murders. I stood in a homicide unit for a year and watched case after case of questionable and unattended and even suspicious death investigated and ultimately not included in the murders that Baltimore reported to the FBI or carried on its own books as crimes. Hundreds of such cases, in fact. Just as in Britain, we do not include suspicious deaths and we do not include justifiable killings. It is apple to apple. And everything that fool wrote and that you have apparently swallowed whole, eyes wide with credulity, is predicated on a false, ridiculous-on-its-face claim to the contrary. It just isn’t so. Can I say it any more clearly?

        But it’s worse than that, for this pathetic, misleading argument:

        Try thinking about death and murder and the investigative function for just a minute. Seriously, you and the author of this tripe need to lift your heads from the internet and just think about how murder is determined and investigated. If witnesses exist that know what happened in an incident, then the physical evidence can be compared and augmented, of course. But what about all the unattended deaths and found bodies in both countries? What about the myriad cases in which a body only is found, in which there are no witnesses, in which the physical evidence is all that can be utilized to determine cause and manner of death?

        Well, here and only here, it is apples to oranges between the U.S. and the U.K. Why? Guns, of course. A homicide involving a handgun is far easier to determine as a murder, or suicide, or accidental death than a death by, say, an undetermined blunt-force blow to a victim. Autopsy reveals a blunt force injury: Did someone purposely hit him with something? Or did he fall and crack his head on the curb? If he was hit in the head, was it an industrial accident or a intentional assault? Or did that 2 x 4 fall by accident from the second story? Compared to that, the physical evidence in most ballistic-caused deaths is relatively straight forward. Given such definitive ballistic tell-tales such as stippling, or trigger impressions, or blood-spatter patterns from close-contact wounds, proving a gunshot wound to be a homicide or a suicide is a cakewalk for a trained pathologist. Indeed, the two easiest methods of homicide to determine by any pathologist are straight-edge wounds and gunshot wounds. So, obviously, a larger percentage of shootings and cuttings are going to be easily categorized by pathologists at autopsy. Harder is blunt-force trauma, or vehicular homicides, or fire deaths, or poisonings, especially intentional poisonings involving illegal narcotics. Well now, 68 percent of American murders are firearms killings. But a much smaller minority of U.K. killings involve firearms. There are many more blunt-force trauma deaths because guns are not ubiquitous, and so while the murder rate is smaller — harder to kill people without a gun — it’s also true that a larger percentage of unattended bodies are more likely to fall into the category of undetermined or pended cases. It’s just much harder to learn medically whether blunt-force trauma is a blow from an unknown object in an assault, or from an accident –industrial, vehicular or personal. So a culture that has only a minority of its murders involving firearms is going to have, de facto, more scientific ambiguity. But make no mistake, in the U.S. as well, there are plenty of unattended and suspicious deaths that without additional evidence do not become murders to be reported in our crime stats. I was in the room and saw it happen, time and again.

        All of what you posted is therefore premised on complete bullshit. And as Moynihan famously said, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. On this website, when sometime tries to pass off as false a premise as “We in America report all of our suspicious deaths as murders, and they in the U.K. do not,” even the slow and aging ex-police reporters go slack-jawed at the grandiosity of the lie. And I find further argument on such a line to be useless and insulting. That is why I asked you to go away with this nonsense. Not because such a ridiculous argument is intellectually worrisome, but because on its face, it is absurd and wasteful of everyone’s time.

        Now then, as to tone. Yes, I said what I said and meant it with regard to the pathology of our gun culture. It is a social pathology at a certain point, and when gun proponents begin to argue, say, that fifth-graders should have been taught to rush at a man with a gun firing at them, sacrificing some of themselves like good U.S. Marines so that fellow jarheads might live, and saying that the coddling our youth is an attendant cause of the bloodletting– as the author of that moronic National Review people so stated — I call it, quite correctly, blaming the victim. And sick. You want to defend it? Okay, but when the love and validation of weaponry is allowed to consume, like an unyielding Moloch, the very innocence of early childhood before we dare to begin to reconsider the omnipresence of semiautomatic firepower in our culture, then it is, well, pathology. I have said so. But you had no trouble proceeding on that very line, yourself, as you offered precisely my same words to describe my own critique:

        “That comes across as very f**king sick and soulless.”

        Trying for an equivalence between my critique of an essay that expresses disappointment in third-graders being unable to defend themselves against armed adults and that essay itself — this deserves whatever contempt I can manage, sorry. This is not empirical; it is human. If it eludes you, I can go no further. But, sir, the venality of that essay is profound and I find it hard to take your defense of it seriously. In any event, your defense suggested pathology on my part equal to or greater than for citing the National Review. So the currency remained that of your choosing, and the above comment by you well preceded mine about pathology. You went there, too. I replied. Own it, brother.

        Dozens of gun-rights advocates have carried their arguments against gun control on this site without gleaning any reference to pathology. There are arguments to be had that are worth having on this and many issues, and there are claims that gun-control advocates make that I find implausible at points. But I do feel that any claim that third-graders and fifth-graders at Newtown ought to have been trained in infantry tactics and that our failure to do so contributed to their victmization is worthy of any healthy person’s deep disregard and disrespect. Which was the original argument of the essay, of course. But apart from a contempt for that singular extremity, no one has any fear or intolerance for fact-based gun-rights arguments. You may bring those readily to this website and be treated with care and respect as a participant in an open discussion. Your arguments may be attacked and maligned, and philosophies that underlie arguments, when they are cited, may be attacked as well. But if the facts and premises are credible then they deserve a good argument. The power that you presume your arguments carry, Mr. Plebontheweb, did not result in the threat of a ban. Nor, even, did your lapses in tone. Your tone, from jump, was provocative and ad hominem, but rather than take offense, I simply fired back on terms that you set.

        But on this site you are not entitled to your own facts. When you cite something here, expect it to be at least plausible and, well, remotely credible. The above is simply twisted and dishonest reporting and gun-apologist fantasy. I wasn’t “cherry-picking” a phrase; I was discarding the entire fucking premise: There is no reservoir of unreported murders in the U.K. just as there is no reservoir of unreported murders here. But in both countries, the number of suspicious or violent deaths that are in the end defined as murder is always significantly less than the total number of incidents. And in the U.K. because the manner of the death is often more ambiguous — less firearms, more beatings, etc. — the number of undetermined cases will likely be necessarily higher. (And don’t let that thought open up to a silly discussion about how someone will always find a means to kill someone so why restrict guns? That’s just dumb. The efficacy of death by firearm is far greater than by knife or blunt object or a fall from a height. It’s much harder to kill people without a gun. The U.K. doesn’t have a third of our murder rate because they are less violent — the rate of common assault is, in fact, comparable in both countries. No, they’re violent as we are violent. Their violence, however, leaves many, many more of them alive.)

        Lastly, Killeen. No one in America — not even gun-rights advocates — is trying to argue that private business owners should be required to allow firearms on their premises. Other Constitutional rights do prevail in America and if you want to enter a private residence or a government building or certain private businesses, you do so on terms of those who control the property and make the rules. Even the states with the most liberal carry permit laws concede this much. So the legal issue is never going to be, “Was the gun right by my side when the shooting started?” That’s more fantasy shit. No, the practical issue to be debated is this: If Texas has a shall-issue carry law and if Killeen is in the state of Texas, then where were all of the armed citizens on the streets of Killeen running toward this fellow and defending their neighbors once the shooting started? The guy reloaded repeatedly and did so in a state in which gun laws are the most liberal in the nation. And still, the body count. Now I realize the very limited usefulness of arguing anecdotal incidents here, but of course, what other response is there when gun-rights advocates falsely claim that mass killings only happen in unarmed communities. If your answer to Killeen is to ignore private property rights, and other security issues at courthouses or airports, and have everyone to wear a handgun on their belt in every restaurant, airliner, commuter train, store, school, swimming pool, arena, nightclub, bar, barbershop, etc. in America, well, say so, and see how much of America is willing to follow you into that dystopia. For one thing, how high do you think we can as a civilized society take the world’s already highest rate of accidental gun death? Thousands of deaths today, tens of thousands tomorrow. Sky’s the limit. Hey, let’s even put guns in the elementary schools even though the majority of accidental shootings are by children. Insane, truly. Again, arguing that more guns in more places is a way out of this nightmare strikes me as being pathological, or at the least simplistic and oblivious. When every other civilized country is doing the opposite and maintaining modest rates of gun murder, accidental shootings and suicide by firearm, the willingness to double- and triple-down on the ubiquity of handguns seems something akin to addiction. What do they tell folks at twelve-step meetings? if you keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, you’re an addict.

        And the argument for more firearms ubiquity is even more absurd when you consider this:

        Studies on whether liberal shall-issue-permit states have any more or less violence than those that restrict the carrying of concealed weapons are inconclusive. The Chronicle of Higher Education, reviewing all of the conflicting academic data, has concluded that no one can make the empirical case that carry permits have reduced crime in the slightest, or, to be fair, led to more bloodletting. In any event, it does not seem to be the solution to the existing level of violence. You want to battle on my cite of Killeen, but I can name dozens of other mass killings in shall-issue permit states, or for that matter, Ft. Hood, a freaking military installation. No, arming more people is not the answer. Disarming some of them, or requiring the rationalization of gun ownership on a national scale at least, might well have an effect, though we’ll never know if we never try. If we’re content with the bimonthly massacre of innocents, well, okay. Continue on.

        Now then, I’ve written all this and done so in detail only because it was clear from your last post that you really thought you were citing some uncorrupted and genuine study of something that mattered. It is anything but, however, I will concede that you apparently believed this other fellow’s horseshit. So we’ll take a pass on that.

        But going forward, what I ask everyone to do on this site is treat it as something that requires a better game than most internet commentary. Facts matter. And tone matters. If you’re caught creating fictive premises and non-existent stats, you’re in the kill file. And tone? Yes, I referred directly to your defense of that vile National Review screed as pathology. I honestly can glean no other explanation; that’s how appalling I find the notion that these children needed to be taught to band together and rush the fellow with the semiauto. Sick stuff, sorry to say so. But as to your claim to be offended by such characterizations, I can’t take seriously your righteous indignation; you are going to have to own the entirely of the conversation and your initial stance, the one that provoked my reference to pathology. If you speak to me personally of sickness, then well, you spoke of sickness. In terms of facts and tone, both, you need to reflect a bit on what this site is attempting to do, and how that might differ from much internet commentary, and then raise your game. We’re here for a good argument, not weak-sister shit.

        Reply
  2. Andrew says:

    Hey David I ran accross this today when I was reading Andrew Sullivans blog and I thought it sounded like something that would come right out of your mind.

    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/03/the_economy_of_punishment.html

    After reading it, it made me think of a line in the Corner that was something like “and there went a group of 15 year old entrepreneurs”

    Reply
  3. Bruce says:

    I would like to propose a new line of discussion taken superficially from the NRA’s playbook, although it should not be assumed my sympathies lie with them.

    Item 1; Given the installed base of weapons in the USA today, would any conceivable marginal control mechanism make a noticeable difference within say a 10 year period.

    Item 2: Whatever the death count at schools might be,is that necessary collateral damage for maintaining social freedoms (i.e. we don’t lock up criminals for many other charges until the crimes have been committed).

    Item 3: Commentators have already noted many schools already do have armed guards. If this is this way the NRA wants us to go, then consider violence various neighborhoods in the ghettos. Cab we imagine them organizing their own security walls — reduced gun access inside — and outsiders not allowed in without surrendering their weapons. First of all would major police forces tolerate the formation of these local armed security forces — something like the Guardian Angles of NYC but with weapons. Conservative groups might support it. This wouldn’t require amending the Constitution, but it might require adjustment of state-leve laws and money would need to be found. Assuming all this, would this be an improvement or even worse?

    Item 4: Weapon buyback. Australia has has some success with weapon-buyback on a national scale. Can this work in the US – quite apart from control laws??

    Item 5: Military grade weapons used on American soil. The use of military weapons on American soil, although at “peacetime” targets like innocent school-children is giving schadenfreude to persons abroad who have seen American weapons wielded by American soldiers or their own armies. In other words, as far as US law is concerned, it’s a great crime to turn those weapons against US citizens on American soil, but when it happens on a much larger scale elsewhere, such as with the drones, then what? Americans who are very concerned about guns at home are cavalier abroad? This is not an abstract foreign policy debate. It creates consonant dissonance in the minds of American servicemen returning from Afghanistan, and thus there is the temptation that the same behavior that was sweeping a Taliban output in Afghanistan will be seen as a horrific crime on American soil.

    Just a few questions I had.

    Reply
  4. Timo says:

    For interested parties, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened yesterday in a hearing entitled “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?”:

    http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=8ddfce272f36de81e62e30d8153a7d3a

    You can watch the hearing by clicking on the “Webcast” button. The hearing itself does not roll until 25:49

    Despite all the supposed shades of grey surrounding this issue, I note that both senators on the committee and those testifying fell into one of two main categories: those who spoke directly to the gun as an influential factor in gun violence, and those who did not.

    Reply
  5. Susie says:

    I’m very late to this conversation so I may be talking to myself…. What happened in Newtown is on my mind every day even now. Every time one of these massacres happens it plunges me into the surreal experience of getting the phone call on October 12, 2011 telling me that one of my oldest friends had been killed in a massacre in Seal Beach and that her mother had survived but was in surgery.

    There is a hole in our lives where she used to breathe.

    She was there and then she wasn’t.

    Learning that she was the last person killed and that she died pleading for her life is so sad and horrifying it takes my breath away. Her shooter is still alive, facing the death penalty, the child he was fighting with his ex wife about is effectively orphaned since his ex is the first person he killed that day.

    The men on site that day couldn’t stop it, although one of them died trying.

    The idea that people carrying guns could stop stuff like this from happening makes me laugh. It sounds like the fantasy talk you hear from children who are trying to manage their boogey man fears. Like my 8 year old neighbor who wished he’d been in New York when 9/11 happened because he would’ve taken a plane and stopped the bad guys.

    The guy who took 3 guns and killed my friend Laura and 7 other people was one of those people who felt like a gun would give him power. He owned nine of them. And he had a restraining order in place. These days there are more and more people who feel depressed and powerless and pissed. A lot of them are armed.

    When one of those people has had enough and decides to go kill a bunch of people there isn’t a whole lot anyone can do to stop them.

    I know that there needs to be discussion – not the reactive defense of the right to own machine guns with monster clips – but a conversation about how we can help those people who are on the verge of snapping and how we can keep our children and ourselves safe.

    The only people I’m interested in hearing from are those families and friends who have to keep going after someone who owned a gun and was having a bad day decided to go kill someone they loved.

    It’s really hard to have any respect for opinions like those expressed in that first essay – the opinions expressed there are, in my opinion incredibly disrespectful and completely disconnected.

    Reply
  6. C says:

    I am fairly certain that the linked article in question is the most horrible piece of writing I’ve ever read.

    Reply
  7. Lee Carney says:

    lets all b absolutely crystal clear here the NRA & the right wing commentariat and the conservative establishment are not here to protect gun owners, Hunters, 2nd amendment rights or even RW Militias.

    No as always with RW Groups they have one and only one core constituency….. Their Corporate paymasters. In this case Weapon Manufacturers and retailers.

    Once u accept and understand this basic premise then all the intellectual inconsistency of modern conservatism suddenly makes sense. The so called conservative intelligentsia are genuine prostitutes. From guns to climate change to supply-side economics they will spread any nonsense their corporate sugar daddys demand.

    Reply
  8. Dr.H says:

    Man, that Alex Jones incident with Pierce Morgan over guns a while ago was hilarious. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised seeing Jones is the guy who actually believes that 9/11 was a government conspiracy by the Bush administration. Jones outburst added more fuel to fire rather than fanning it.. Jones may actually may be a important asset for Gun control advocates

    Reply
  9. Derek says:

    “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.” economist John Lott.

    And just when I thought this argument was done and dusted, I stumble on this factoid. No doubt Simon has the answers, though. Tell us Oracle, your thoughts on this matter?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      You know what a factoid is? The actual definition of factoid, as per Websters? It’s a seeming fact that isn’t actually true.

      So yes, Derek, you’ve been suckered into a factoid.

      Two words for you for starters, three actually, because your willingness to accept at face value such an assertion requires an extra expletive:

      “Fort Fucking Hood.”

      That was a military installation, where U.S. Army Personnel are not only armed but trained in warfare. And still…

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        Wait. Off the top my head, beyond Ft. Hood:

        The Luby’s in Kileen, Texas, 1984. Like eighteen dead?
        The dozen killings down in lower Alabama, around three years ago.
        Jacksonville, Fla. Guy who killed about a dozen on a spree after shooting the hooker and pimp.

        And that’s what I can remember off the top of my head in gun-friendly, carry-permit states. Do I really need to do more to convince you that you swallowed an NRA-hyped internet fraud whole? You can be snide about someone who is attending to actual facts and call them The Oracle, Derek. But facts are simply the real currency in any discussion. It doesn’t make me an oracle to employ them. But it does makes you uninformed to disregard them with such laziness.

        Reply
        • Derek says:

          OK, moving on…another fact…(thanks for the factoid newsflash)

          “In 1919 the homicide rate for England and Wales was 0.8 per 100,000 (Archer and Gartner 1984). It has been estimated that the homicide rate for the entire United States was 9.5 in 1919 (Kleck 1991, p. 393), 11.9 times as large as the British rate. ”

          How d’ya explain that?

          Also, according to research “Favorites of the American public and gun control advocacy groups, such as waiting periods and gun registration, clearly do not reduce violence rates to any measurable degree. Neither the Kleck-Patterson research nor other research has ever indicated that these controls reduce any form of violence.”

          Source : The great American Gun Debate (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1e74hVs96-8ivIItNeC952QcyMG4gYwr6ZqijaJWud3E/edit)

          Reply
          • Derek says:

            Note the homicide rate quoted above is when both countries had the same gun control measures.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              But not the same levels of gun ownership by any means. We were scarcely removed from the culture of the frontier a a nation in 1919. Today we are an entirely metropolitan people with more than 83 percent of the population living in greater metropolitan areas. Your stat and the transformation of America argue even more strenuously for a ban on handguns in that context.

              Reply
          • David Simon says:

            How about this? In 1919, we were barely one generation from the frontier being a reality in American life. The U.K. by 1919 had a much more industrialized, much more metropolitan culture in which social orders were much more stringent and in which the frontier culture of the gun had not been grafted onto daily life. Fuck the laws on the books. What was the rate of gun ownership between the two countries?

            I am guessing that Americans even in 1919 owned and utilized more weapons than the British. And now? In an America that has fetishized firearms to the point where we own half the world’s private weaponry? And the British have retreated even further from legitimized gun possession?

            What was the rate of gun ownership in both societies in 1919? Yeah, measure that. It’s an argument to ban private use of firearms entirely, never mind any cohesive attempt to restrict or track or license them.

            Your selective use of/correlation of data is really telling. How many privately owned guns per Brit in 1919? How many per American? These are stats that might actually show a direct influence of the gun culture. And you want to move right past that and use a stat about the state of legal sanction against those guns? Nope. No sale.

            Reply
            • Derek says:

              Take it easy…you’re heading for a stroke-out. I’m getting a pretty good feel for the way you argue. It goes something like this. Stats are OK, if I use them for my benefit. They’re bad if someone else uses them, and their conclusion disagrees with my argument. It’s ok to jump to eroneous conclusions about someone else’s argument — when it suits me — but I don’t think it’s a appropriate for them to do it. It’s ok to “guess” if I do it, It’s bad to guess if others do it. OK, so this is the playing field. No problem, it’s your blog.

              Here’s an interesting article you might like.

              “Armed civilians in Israel have proven more effective in preventing mass killings than anywhere else in the world. Yet only 2.5 per cent of Israel’s population are licensed to carry a weapon, compared with 47 per cent in the US.

              This paradox bears close examination as nations weigh the vexed problem of gun control in the wake of the shocking massacre of innocents at a Connecticut school on Dec 14.

              In the past decade, armed civilians in Israel have intervened in terrorist attempts as many as 50 times, according to Dr Shlomo Shpiro of Bar-Ilan University, who is writing a paper on the subject.

              “In 70 per cent of those cases, their intervention was crucial,” he said.”

              source : Arming citizens pays off in Israel: Nation’s selectively armed civilians most effective in stopping massacres.

              Reply
              • David Simon says:

                You’re wrong. Israel is a state with compulsory military service for all citizens, male and female. Everyone in Israel has in-depth training in the use and maintenance of firearms. That is not compatible with the American gun culture in way, shape or form. It is a nation that has been on a war footing, essentially, since 1948 and all Israelis are veterans of its standing military. Ridiculous comparison.

                Reply
    • Kevin says:

      You know, Derek, by focusing on mass shootings, you’re omitting huge numbers of gun deaths that aren’t the result of a mass shooting.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

      That’s just since the Sandy Hook massacre, and doesn’t include suicides. Not including Sandy Hook, that’s three-hundred and eighty-two people killed by a gun, without Wednesday and Thursday’s numbers even tallied yet. Looking at that map, I also see plenty of gun deaths in both states with more restrictive gun laws and those with lax gun laws. These were 12,664 murders in the US in 2011, with 8583 of those the result of a shooting. Surely all of those weren’t in “gun-free zones.”

      Reply
      • Derek says:

        I think Lott’s assertion is in relation to specific areas where guns were not likely to be carried. e.g. in schools, cinemas. James Eagan Holmes chose a cinema where concealed guns weren’t allowed, for example, leading to speculation he knew no one could shoot back.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Not really caring what you think he’s attempting to assert. The guy in Kileen walked off the street into a cafeteria and began shooting people. Carry permits for concealed weapons are legal in Texas. Guys in Alambama were on killing sprees in carry permit states. I would imagine that if I go back into the list of massacres we’re going to find plenty more in states where carry-permits allow for people to walk guns around the world.

          And even in places that have nominal prohibitions against guns, such as Virginia Tech. Are you really suggesting that having undergraduates arm themselves is the solution. Brother, I was an undergraduate. I knew undergraduates. I lived among undergraduates on a Maryland college campus. Do you know what arming college students means in practical terms. It means three accidental or aggravated shootings per keg party at some state schools. This is a cohort that can’t be trusted with automobiles on a Saturday night and you want to arm them. Nice.

          If you really want to cull the human herd, let’s start with the ideologues and fools who think more guns are always the solution. When you are a hammer, everything seems a nail. And the gun lobby is nothing but a hammer, incapable of any other societal function.

          Reply
          • Derek says:

            Whoa there…you’ve gone from suggesting that I would like to arm undergraduates, to accusing me that is exactly what I would like to do. Ha. I don’t remember writing that I wanted to arm college students, but until the gun laws change, it’s probably a concept worth considering, as long as it went with some specific training, which will never happen because you’d be lucky to arm students with a cigarette given college campus’ PC gone crazy rules and regulations. Why allow yourself to be a weak target for some crazed college student who is homicidal because he scored a B+ in math class? Just idly speculating. In today’s climate of increased gun massacres by deranged evil maniacs, I’d much rather have a glock in my pocket, than an apple. Just me. But if others don’t want to, fine with me. Hey, if you don’t need it, what’s the problem?

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              You’re getting emotional. I was criticizing that economist you cited who was making the embarrassing claims about how these massacres only occur wherever people can’t carry arms. First I pointed out that his claim was false. Then I was further arguing that even in places where it might be true — a college campus, for example — the notion of instituting a carry policy for weapons would result in more tragedy, not less.

              That grownups are still arguing that the solution to this American pathology is more weaponry is a sign of how sick this society’s gun culture has become. Sorry.

              Reply
        • Kevin says:

          That isn’t the point I was making. I’m talking about gun deaths other than in mass shootings. Mass shooting deaths are a very small fraction of the overall number of gun deaths in the US. Many of the others are accidental shootings and are the end result of domestic violence, in cases where the guns were legal and in the home. Others were street corner-type homicides with both legal and illegally obtained weapons. Many of those happen in places with CCW laws.

          But to the point you seem to be arguing: “James Eagan Holmes chose a cinema where concealed guns weren’t allowed, for example, leading to speculation he knew no one could shoot back.”

          Oh right, so he wore body armor just because it was fashionable?

          If I had to take my brain into that dark place where I could imagine why someone, with the intent to kill as many people as possible, would pick a place such as a school or a movie theater, I’d say that they pick those places based on the fact that there are large numbers of people in close quarters, with limited exits to run towards. In Aurora, the shooter also set off some sort of gas canisters, adding to the confusion.

          I sure wouldn’t feel any safer with one of my fellow patrons packing heat. Then again, there probably isn’t anything quite as exhilarating as being caught in the middle of a firefight in a gas filled, semi-darkened theater, right?

          And if your argument is going to be that, well, the CCW holder would have taken Holmes out, then I want you to watch this. In particular, the part of the segment where the officer explains the physical changes that occur in the body during a high stress situation like a shootout.
          part 1: http://youtu.be/8QjZY3WiO9s
          part 2: http://youtu.be/rLN6_s66wTg

          Reply
          • derek says:

            Using a gun is a skill like any other, it is extremely difficult to hit a moving target, or even a close stationary one under stressful situations. However, suggesting that people shouldn’t have guns because they’re useless shots (if that is your intention) is akin to saying people who aren’t good drivers shouldn’t own cars, or people who can’t handle their liquor shouldn’t drink. (note to Simon, please don’t tell me guns and cars aren’t comparable – it is a metaphor/similie (whatever…) to make a point). Yes, it is difficult to shoot effectively. Getting shot will produce changes in your body alright – called stress. If you’re not a good shot, get training. In any situation where a lone nut was attempting to kill me with an assault rifle, I would rather be armed, preferably with an assault rifle. I suggest a Heckler and Koch MP5. Small enough to fit in your coat, light enough not to worry about, a perfect companion. Or an AK47. Calm down, I’m joking! My original point is not an argument for or against gun control – it is logic.If someone is trying to kill you, you would logically want to fight back, if you can’t escape easily.

            I think evil bastards will continue to go on violent rampages using whatever tool is available to them, and that will probably be an assault weapon – even if they were ban them. I might be wrong…but it would be difficult to prove either way, although I’m sure Mr Simon will attempt to do so.

            Reply
  10. The Big Angry Jew. says:

    Gun control is a useless issue to bring up nationally because of the resistance to it. You will rile up half the country and lose votes and politicians you would need to fix medicare and maybe not go to a stupid war again. Thankfully states can jigger their individual laws, so we up here don’t have to give a fuck what Angus Dangle of shitkicker Arkansas has to think about it. Let’s not forget that some circumstances that lead to mass shooting incidents are quite hard to prevent, even with restrictions . For instance, there’s no way any kind of gun control could prevent the Newtown massacre from happening because even if there were stricter preemptive measures implemented(regulations, psych evaluations) for gun purchasing around that time, the gunman still had the unfortunate advantage of getting access to that type of weaponry through his sane gun-collecting mother, who would have successively obtained the weapons. Yes, Japan and Canada don’t suffer from the epidemic of gun deaths as the US does but that’s due to the fact those countries lack the traditional, gun deifying culture the US has(which has its roots in the early days of the country’s founding ). The US already has a voluminous proliferation of these weapons that is a byproduct of the centuries and centuries of tradition being passed down. Not to mention, there’s plenty of ways to bypass the law and obtain these type of semi-automatics. Even with all the regulations in the world, there’s ways for these killers to appear normal enough to evade suspicion and get access to them. Most of these killers, prior to committing their heinous acts have never had a criminal record, managing to fly completely under the radar. This makes this problem even more complicated.

    Now let me designate you to a video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_YTM_eAWnQ

    However, while I don”t fully support Gun Control, I do support the banning of assault weapons like the AR-15 and the Bushmaster. In fact, lets just ban their availability of them for civilian purchase all together. Nothing is ever 100% but I do think it could make a modest impact.

    Here’s the alternatives

    Significantly increase the pricing for ammunition and semi-automatics.
    Lessen the killing capability of these of handguns and semi-automatics.

    There ya’ go.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      I would have said it was useless, save for this window that follows Newtown.

      The horror of six and seven year olds being gunned down in an elementary school classroom managed to swing all poll numbers in favor of gun control for a window of indeterminate length. Now might be the time to try to do something rational.

      Or not. Perhaps Americans will become distracted and move on to other business.

      But we don’t know unless we try. And in trying, if we fail, we are no worse off than before. I don’t think there is any correlation on how legislators will vote on gun control that will affect other issues. Each is distinct and rooted in the nature of their districts.

      As to local gun laws being a resolve for the problem, I couldn’t disagree more. A national action is the only meaningful gun control possibility. It isn’t a matter of where you go to get your large magazines, semiautos and assault rifles. It’s that anyone at all can get them anywhere, regardless of whether they are a felon, mentally disturbed or named in an ex parte order for domestic violence. The easy use of straw purchases, gun shows, private sales, etc. — all of this has to be closed as a loop and nationally so.

      Reply
    • M J OHIO says:

      Ahh, yes. John “Nothing to see here” Stossel. There’s a credible source, if pathological liars are what you consider credible sources.

      Reply
  11. michael_pdx says:

    I posted this on my google+ page several months ago, maybe after the Colorado shooting. Sadly, I could re-post it at least once a month and it would be depressingly current. The basic idea was inspired by an article in Harper’s a few years back where a reporter basically embedded with NRA members and started packing – it was really interesting and helped me see some hope for badly-needed common ground. I hope this line of thinking might nudge the conversation out of the usual rut:

    Rather than just add one more feeble squeak to the small chorus of people who are fed up with living in a society where teenagers and the mentally ill have ready access to deadly weapons, let me propose a potential way to move the conversation forward.

    We ought to be able to distinguish between grandpa’s hunting rifle, and kids with Glocks. The fact that there doesn’t look like much common ground between Ted Nugent and me doesn’t excuse us from trying to find some.

    Suppose we approach responsible gun owners along these lines: We have no problem with guns in the hands of people who are trained and careful about them, but we absolutely need to raise the bar for the privilege of carrying. We need a serious training and licensing program for people who can’t get along without packing, and a zero-tolerance enforcement program for people found with a gun who haven’t demonstrated they can be trusted to carry one. Something like: jail time if you’re found with a gun when you aren’t qualified to hold one.

    Stop right there for a second. Yes, I’m qualifying what some people see as a right in the 2nd Amendment. Just like we have historically qualified and clarified every other right outlined in the Constitution. I’m also directly raising the question: are you really opposed to trying to figure out how to prevent irresponsible, irrational, and sick people from having guns?

    Perhaps we need to strengthen the respectability of “good” gun ownership to pave the way to a serious effort to limit “bad” gun ownership. Let’s shift the conversation a bit to see gun ownership as a right, but one that has such significant consequences that it’s reserved for people who can demonstrate they will be accountable for the sober, responsible exercise of that right.

    We do this kind of thing all the time with dangerous technology that civilians have access to. Consider that you don’t have a right to fly a plane or drive a tractor-trailer just because you feel like it – there’s actually a series of hoops you have to jump through to gain the privilege.

    This is is not a panacea, obviously. There is a flood of guns in the US, and millions of them are in the hands of people who aren’t so good at following rules. So enforcement and implementation would deserve some real thought, and yes, some open and patient conversation with pro gun folks (at least the ones who aren’t beyond conversation). But the fact that it wouldn’t get every gun out of the hands of every person likely to do mischief with it in the first 90 days is a pretty weak argument against trying something that could make real headway toward a society where my kids are less likely to get shot dead for no reason. Baby steps count here.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Agree, fully. This is the preamble to an intelligent negotiation between gun-rights advocates and those who seek some measure of gun control.

      Reply
    • derek says:

      “We do this kind of thing all the time with dangerous technology that civilians have access to. Consider that you don’t have a right to fly a plane or drive a tractor-trailer just because you feel like it – there’s actually a series of hoops you have to jump through to gain the privilege.”

      Since when has a tractor been considered dangerous technology? Civilians? You talk as if there is a two tier system between you and them. If you nuts keep on with these arguments the only people who will have any freedom are the rich. The little guy will have to appease his masters to take a piss in the morning.

      Reply
      • michael_pdx says:

        “tractor-trailer” = big rig truck.
        “Civilians” in this context = not police, not military

        The rest of your second paragraph makes no sense whatsoever to me.

        Reply
        • Derek says:

          Hey, just drawing attention to the weird language (citizens) to rather than just saying ‘people’, and noting that it’s getting to the stage where the rich can do pretty much anything they want. If you want to be truly free, get rich, get a good lawyer, and kick back. I’m also suggesting that with these continual erosions of small rights (for safety) there is an inevitable erosion of rights in general. It’s sort of death by a thousand cuts. You can lose the war after winning every battle. Orwell’s dystopia, isn’t that far away in my view. OK, so it’s not North Korea, but the amount of government interference is reaching epidemic status in the name of “safety”. Look at things which Orwell got right in his book, 1984. Continual wars, for one thing, to distract us from what’s really happening. The introduction of PC in our universities, and workplaces, to dumb down the language and essentially introduce more ways to control us, and the introduction of “diversity” which is paradoxically just a code word for conformity. As Hitchens has noted, discrimination is a good thing, not a bad thing, and shouldn’t be used as a tool by the middle class to lord it over people who think different to themselves. Then there is spying on each other (which Simon seems to recommend) in the name of “safety”. Just some thoughts.

          Reply
    • derek says:

      Again with the mentally ill….

      “Something like: jail time if you’re found with a gun when you aren’t qualified to hold one.”

      Jail time? Instead of these extremely draconian measures (locking up some innocent pleb who owns a gun) how about a more sensible, but equally ineffective, slap on the wrist? The jails are already full. Tell me how you envisage you are going to find these people with guns who aren’t qualified to hold one? What would this qualification entail? A check in with the local police station? Do potential shooters turn up to the local police station drooling from the mouth? In the meantime, let’s lock up entire sections of West Baltimore…That’ll work. So many unregistered fire arms by so many potential murderers.

      It all sounds so good. But as per usual, the liberal candy ass approach to modern day living has zero credibility. If these measures were effective, how come you can’t lock down the drug trade in crime ridden USA cities, already? Tell me, do corner boys register their guns? Nope. You talk about gun massacres. What you’re really talking is NIMBY.

      Reply
  12. derek says:

    Re : James Eagan Holmes.

    “Holmes’ defense attorneys claimed in a motion he was a “psychiatric patient” of the medical director of Anschutz’s Student Mental Health Services prior to the Aurora shooting; ”

    Yep, the mental health experts were so effective in treating him, he went on a gun rampage. And you wonder why I have zero faith in psychiatry, psychology, and all of it’s various debased philosophy.

    “CBS News later reported that Holmes met with at least three mental health professionals at the University of Colorado prior to the massacre”…and here we have Mr Simon advocating that if only we could harness the power of mental health authorities to cure evil maniacs we can solve the gun crime epidemic. Laughable.

    Reply
    • derek says:

      I wonder what cognitive behaviour therapy entailed for Mr Holmes? “So tell me James how you feel when you watch Batman?”

      Holmes : “I feel like going on a killing spree”.

      Shrink : “I see, well have you considered avoiding watching Batman movies?”

      Holmes : ” No”.

      Shrink : ” How do you feel when the Joker devises a dastardly plot to kill the Batman?”

      Holmes : “I am the batman”.

      Shrink ” I see. Tell me about your mother”.

      Reply
    • David Simon says:

      The anecdotal is boring and ineffective. Stop arguing the anecdotal. Speak to the systemic. How would you address this American problem, specifically and systemically? Do you have that in you?

      Reply
      • derek says:

        Nope. And neither do you. Let’s agree on that. Your solution to a leaky tap is to turn the water off. Fair enough. That stops the water flowing, but doesn’t address the underlying complaint. If that’s the best you’ve got, maybe that’s a good enough interim solution.

        Reply
        • derek says:

          If I was to propose a solution, it wouldn’t be further gun controls. It would be an honest examination of why people go ballistic in the current climate of the USA. Dya think people just do this because they can? No. Each massacre has a different etiology. For some, it’s jealousy. For others it because they have chosen (yes, chosen) to become embroiled in twisting their own minds beyond breaking point. Timothy McVeigh went nuts after he had been on killing sprees in the Iraqi war, and claimed he the USA government had inserted microchips into his ass to monitor his behaviour. Why? I don’t know.

          My plan? Weak at best, but no worse than yours. Do nothing. We’re still evolving.

          Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Actually, this is exactly incorrect. Nowhere have I proposed cutting off the sale and ownership of firearms. Nowhere. You just made that up out of whole cloth.

          To follow your analogy, my arguments have been for specific licensing and regulation requirements, as well as reductions in the size of magazines. That’s not turning the water off. That’s being a plumber, of sorts. Which is what you do with a leaky faucet.

          And the best that I have is an actual effort. The best you have, after all of this verbiage, is to offer exactly nothing other than negation and an affirmation of the status quo. Apparently, this society just needs to get used to classrooms of dead seven-year-olds now and then, because by your standards, nothing — and you have offered exactly nothing in the way of specific proposals on this website — is to be attempted. You’ve arrived at a pathetic little cul de sac, Derek.

          Reply
      • derek says:

        I’ll give you one last piece of anecdotal bullshit.

        When your TV is broken, and you’re not an electronics’ engineer, you don’t take the back of it. You take it to a qualified repair man. If you don’t have a qualified repairman, well, your fucked, aren’t you?

        I’ll leave you in peace now. Happy New Year, and it’s been fun bullshittting with you.

        Reply
        • derek says:

          oops, just noticed I misplaced an apostrophe. Apologies to the grammar police.

          Reply
        • David Simon says:

          That’s not anecdotal actually. That’s just a homily of sorts. And I’m not sure of its relevance.

          Reply
          • derek says:

            You keep avoiding the question why people in the USA are going on killing sprees. If you don’t know why, how can you propose a solution? Don’t give me more high minded mumbo-jumbo, with various digs about my lack of education and English ninja skills. I’m sorry masser I don’t have your high-minded grasp of the English language.You’re sounding more like a politician every day, with your continued swerves around the core issue : Why are people killing each other? Hence the broken TV anaolgy. You know people are killing each other, but your solution isn’t to address why, it’s introduce more laws, and regulations. You want to be a repairman, but you haven’t got a clue about why there’s no picture.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              One last time, Derek: I’m not avoiding it. I am saying it doesn’t matter in fashioning our response. Why they are doing it is an engima that is as old as humanity, which has always at its margins been an extraordinarily violent enterprise. There have always been killers, and there have always been massacres. But now, technology has reached a point where the number of rounds fired has been geometrically expanded and the need for reloading has been geometrically minimized. Where once someone might have used a revolver in a rampage and killed three or four people, now dozens are dying. Humanity hasn’t managed to explain its homicidal impulses in 5000 years, and yet here you stand, pretending that we need to solve socioapathy before we do anything pragmatic. Your stance is ridiculous.

              The avoidance here is all you.

              You’re avoiding dealing with the mechanics of why eighteen or twenty-six or thirty are dying in a single incident. And the mechanics are something that we can and should address. If at some point in the next 5000 years we solve human dysfunction and violence as a byproduct of the species, then great. But until that day comes, citizens — responsible citizens — must address the pragmatic.

              Human beings are violent in every culture. But only Americans have this level of armament available to private citizenry with a minimum of regulation. And only Americans are dying like this at this rate. Again, we have 50 percent of the privately owned guns on the planet and we have 75 percent of the mass killings. And our homicide rate is in excess of every other culture. And you, Derek, have introduced no differential between cultures. You’ve not introduced anything — not a single other factor other than guns — that explains this. In the absence of any other cited factor, it’s you who is avoiding the obvious. You’re avoiding dealing with the gun. Deal with them, reduce the American gun culture to levels comparable with the rest of the civilized world, and our murder rate will become more comparable to the rest of the world. That is the argument. It avoids nothing. It speaks to the one factor that is dramatically different between our culture and all of the other, less murderous ones. Not violent imagery, not rates of mental dysfunction, not even rates of common or aggravated assault. All of those things are comparable. Guns are not comparable. If you have another factor to argue otherwise, raise it right now. If you have nothing, then you have nothing. And you are merely crossing your arms and refusing to deal with the mechanics of American killing because, well, you don’t want to deal with the mechanics of American killing.

              And if you don’t think the mechanics are an essential point of discussion, think about this:

              A British military unit firing en masse in Boston managed to kill little more than a half dozen Americans. Same thing for the Massachusetts unit firing into a crowd in Baltimore in 1861. Same thing for armed Pinkertons firing into steelworkers at Homestead. Dozens of assailants and dozens of weapons once produced a half dozen or so casualities in their best efforts at massacre.

              One present-day kid armed with semiautomatic weapons can now murder two dozen or more on a college campus or in an elementary school. You missed the revolution here, Derek. It isn’t about the human capacity for violence. That’s remained constant throughout history. What has changed is the ballistics. And that is what sane people are trying to address.

              Reply
              • derek says:

                I have read every single response from you, and others, and you convinced me, some time ago, that tightening gun controls is a good thing, but like a degenerate gambler, I wanted to play my hand knowing you had the aces.. Nothing more to add really. I still disagree with certain things, but the majority of your argument is convincing.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  Um, okay.

                  Reply
                  • derek says:

                    Ha, you sound disappointed. Oh well, another freedom eroded for the safety of mankind. Remember Franklin’s adage? Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither. Guess that where we’re heading.

                    Reply
                    • David Simon says:

                      And yet I will feel no more or less free predicated on whether or not I have a gun in my hand, or whether my neighbors do. And since I haven’t proposed a ban on gun ownership, only better regulation and licensing and significant penalties against felons or others unsuited owning weapons, I don’t feel that any responsible citizen should feel less free.

                      On the other hand, if there is a more modest chance that everyone I know and love — and everyone else that is known and loved by fellow citizens — might go to school, or the mall, or the theater without being gunned down, then yes, I feel a bit more free in this world of ours.

                      I know you think you have a bead on what freedom means, but it can be defined in fundamentally different ways. I think Mr. Franklin, upon witnessing Newtown and Colombine and Killeen and San Yisidro and dozens of such like, would be inclined to define freedom in terms more grand and utilitarian than whether everyone is entitled to own any possible weapon without anyone paying much attention to that fact and simply mopping up the blood every three weeks.

                    • Lee Krempel says:

                      Man, this Derek is a winner. That TV analogy was…something.

  13. Ben says:

    Allen’s article was pretty fucking stupid, but it wasn’t quite the most disgusting response to the Newtown shooting. That title goes to Mike Huckabee. No one can be so cruel and anti-intellectual while seeming compassionate and insightful quite like America’s social right.

    Reply
  14. John Yossarian says:

    Ridicule, first, last and always.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Hyperbole? First, last and always?

      On this website, sometimes the verbiage is praise, sometimes it’s ridicule. Sometimes, it’s commentary.

      In this instance, with this abysmal article, the necessity for ridicule is certain and fixed. In that, I’m scarcely alone. The general reaction from nearly all quarters to the National Review’s contributions on this issue has ranged between contempt and disgust.

      Reply
  15. kt says:

    Side note: the media coverage of this event is an apt illustration of the destruction that the “blogification” of journalism (i.e. death of reporting standards, as Mr. Simon has written and spoken about elsewhere at length) has wreaked on public intelligence and understanding. Throughout the day of the shooting, and in subsequent days, supposedly reputable media outlets have repeated ANYTHING they found on any social media site, bypassing any attempt at even the most minimal of fact-checking in their rush for sensational scoop.

    They misidentified the shooter (I suppose it would have been too much trouble to actually attempt to contact Ryan L. or verify his whereabouts before putting his Facebook profile picture on CNN?), misidentified victims and their location, misidentified the motive, misidentified the weapons used, and still have not made any clear connection between the shooter and the school despite alleging any number of links. They’ve also repeatedly fallen for imposters of the perpetrator’s family members or victim’s relatives saying outrageous things on social media sites, and have suggested a number of factors (autism, video games, survivalism, etc.) that we can’t even be sure are accurate elements in this case.

    Basically, I can’t believe anything I hear about this incident that I didn’t hear coming directly out of a Connecticut police rep’s mouth. (And even that is questionable, obviously, but at least I know it’s based upon something other than what a network intern read on Facebook.)

    This is why we need real career reporters with a code of ethics and a factual standard, not just bloggers looking for hits and trolling Twitter for info. One can hardly expect the public to understand or process such an incident — let alone get a movement going to make political change to hopefully prevent future massacres — if they can’t even get a vaguely coherant picture of what happened. No wonder some are gullible enough to believe the NRA’s preposterous assertion that the Lone Ranger could ride in with a six-shooter and take out a mass murderer with a single silver bullet, before he has a chance to fire.

    The following was pretty rude, but I can hardly fault the sentiment.

    http://gawker.com/5968650/abc-reporter-reaches-out-to-possible-sandy-hook-victim-is-told-to-eat-a-dick

    Reply
    • derek says:

      Regarding gun control, there is still one gaping hole – big enough to for an Amtrack train – for gun control advocates to explain in regards the Lanza killings. According to news’ reports “the store where Adam Lanza’s mother bought one of the guns used in his school rampage was raided by police Thursday after a theft, a local TV station reports.”

      Please explain how any gun controls might have prevented this killing, seeing as the guns used were purchased by the assassins’ own mother?

      In response to other comments. I don’t hate Canada, I’m not moving to Somalia, I don’t hate socialism, I’m not a right wing republican, I don’t pray to God “tell me when Lord”, I don’t have a stock pile of Uzi 9mm and Glocks in my cupboard for an impending invasion, and I don’t spend my weekends wearing combat fatigues, eating beans, and wearing a gas-mask in survivalist bush training school. But keep on believing any of those things if it makes you feel better about sane people who don’t buy arguments that gun control is a good thing – that it will solve all our problems. I don’t even own a gun. But I will argue for the rights of others to do so.

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        Again, let’s focus on the argumentative fallacy of the anecdotal, as opposed to the systemic.

        I will frame your argument in terms of automobiles and our current use and legislation of those mechanisms. You demonstrate an example in which a properly registered vehicle was used by a properly licensed drunken driver to kill a family of four, for example. In this instance, there was no lapse in the insurance requirement for the vehicle. The driver was correctly licensed and had shown no prior propensity for misuse or irresponsibility. There is no possible mechanism by which the accident could have been prevented beforehand other than to confiscate all vehicles and prohibit driving. Ergo, by your anecdotal logic, no licensing or regulation can prevent this and other, similar auto deaths.

        I agree!

        But the intellectual dishonesty in this fallacy is what is unstated: We are not licensing and regulating cars and drivers in this country to prevent all motor vehicle deaths. We understand that while a certain amount of driver education, licensing, regulation, insurance requirment and sanction against bad driving can reduce highway deaths, some accidents will always prove elusive to our preventative efforts. None of that argues against the preventative efforts, or against their role in reducing some deaths.

        Similarly with firearms. We can hope that a law requiring guns to be registered and licensed, with a thirty-day-waiting period for approval, will catch some — though not all — of the more egregious sales to those who have entered our database for felony convictions, cites under domestic ex-parte orders, documented mental instability, etc. We can also hope that by closing the gun-show loophole, all gun purchases will be routed through this review process. We can limit the magazines to 8 or 10 rounds on all privately owned weapons, hoping that this might reduce the deaths in incidents of some mass killings. We can make it mandatory for mental health professionals and clergy to report — as they do with pedophilia — encounters in which patients or congregants express desire and/or capabilities for specific violence against others. We can make anyone caught with a weapon that is unregistered or unlicensed — stolen, borrowed, or obtained on the street — subject to mandatory minimum sentences. We can require insurance of gun owners so that those harmed by the use of those weapons can be advantaged by liability issues. We can raise the punitive stakes of those who continually lose or have stolen firearms, so that purchasing additional weapons carries a prohibitive cost. We can raise the stakes on those who make straw purchases for felons, or others for whom possession of a weapon is prohibitive. And we can limit the number of handguns purchased by an individual within any 12-month period, so that second-party resales to ineligible parties are reduced. We can maintain a national data base so that individuals engaged in straw purchases of weapons are quickly identified by repetitive bulk purchases. There is a good deal that we can do if it matters to us to reduce some of the firearms deaths in America. And gun-control advocates argue that this is a meaningful goal. Gun-rights defenders insist, as you insist here, on an assurance that all gun deaths will be made preventable by any given legislative act of gun control. That is an absurdist stance, and if applied to motor vehicle law, would argue that we have no business attempting to hold drivers responsible, or licensing them, or registering and inspecting their vehicles. Yet no one argues such.

        I agree with your frustration about being mischaracterized by others here based on ad hominem arguments. I don’t characterize you in any such way and you do not deserve such characterization from anything you have argued. It is the argument itself that should matter.

        Reply
        • derek says:

          “We can make it mandatory for mental health professionals and clergy to report — as they do with pedophilia — encounters in which patients or congregants express desire and/or capabilities for specific violence against others”. How do you enforce this? I might not express a daily desire to kill or maim people I don’t like, but if I have done in the past (even in church) and told people about them – and laughed about it. However, as entertaining and twisted as they were, those thoughts weren’t acted upon because I’m a rational person most of the time, and in my moments of irationality I’m simply not capable of going on a killing spree – and if you can find a shrink who can see into the future about what such and such a person is capable off, well, my hats off! There is a difference between fantasy and reality, there is a difference between saying something, and doing something, between intentions and action. Let’s create the thought police shall we? Should we manufacture room 101 for people who don’t think the way you believe people should think?Since when have clergy reported pedophilia? Does the Catholic church mean anything to you? This part of your solution relies so heavily on an investment in the purity of humankind. So be it, but why then with all these great noble people do we need to enforce these laws in the first place? Aren’t people capable of being moral, without the interference from big brother and his spies? Apparently not in your world. Your solution is unworkable. It’s too bloated, too expensive, would have to many loopholes, open to abuse, etc. There would be an increase in taxes! Fine….increase them, hit the little guy. Meanwhile corporations aren’t paying a nickle. Priorities David…please.

          Reply
          • David Simon says:

            Derek, you act as if you’ve just come to town on a turnip cart.

            The same precise logic has been applied with regard to pedophilia, legally, for more than a decade now in many jurisdictions. Clergy and mental health professionals are required to report suspicions of child abuse when in the past their privilege was absolute. And interesting that you cite the Catholic Church — their legal liability for having failed to report evidence of pedophilia to authorities — sometimes even after these statutes were enacted — is what has led to multibillion dollar settlements in civil cases with victims. You’re really not paying attention to current events in that regard.

            This precise logic is now in place in many, if not most, states and neither clergy nor physicians hold a complete privilege with regard to information about possible child abuse. If they fail to report indications of such, they can be held liable. Information gleaned from such cases has led, in fact, to actual prosecutions for child abuse.

            What is so unworkable to you? Trained professionals are capable of discernment, just as you are, morseo in fact. So that we are not talking about comments made in jest. We are talking about serious indications — as determined by health care professionals or the clergy themselves — that someone may have a desire to take human life and is in the process of arming themselves. And indeed, as many of these clients may be under some court supervision or authority to begin with — court-mandated psychological counciling, ex parte orders for domestic violence — possession of a firearm may in fact be a crime or a violation of probation.

            Nothing about this dynamic has proven unworkable with regard to child sexual abuse and suspicions thereof. Just as nothing has proven unworkable when states have passed laws requiring police and social services to be notified if doctors or nurses or paramedics encounter injuries that they suspect may indicate child abuse. Those statutes have become fixtures in our society over the last two decades. You seem to think that not only the health care professionals and clery, but the police themselves, would be incapable of sifting real threats from casual and flippant commentary? Why? Isn’t that skill set well within the realm of the professions that deal with the manifestations of violence as a matter of routine?

            You’ve now entered the realm of simply saying no to advances in the societal monitoring of human harm that have already been achieved without any noticeable disruption in civil rights, and to already-proven statutes that have time and again held up on appeal. You’re simply about twenty years behind where society already is — at least in regard to people who may give indications, if not probable cause, that they are beating or sexually assaulting kids or preparing to do so. It’s no great stretch of imagination on anyone’s part to conceive of the same institutional response and civic responsibility applied to encounters with unstable individuals who demonstrate sociopathy or disassociative behaviors to clergy or health care professionals, and speak with sincerity of attempting to arm themselves and kill.

            As a society, we’ve already been there, done that. It has not toppled any status quo that didn’t need to be toppled. It is a civic intervention already achieved. And it has stopped some abusers from harming some victims, which is simply a net societal gain if you value the lives and welfare of children. Sorry.

            Reply
            • derek says:

              “You seem to think that not only the health care professionals and clery, but the police themselves, would be incapable of sifting real threats from casual and flippant commentary? Why?”

              I do because there is precedent, remember Timothy McVae?. Some health care professionals will be able to determine if someone is about to go postal, some won’t. Think about it. Shrinks are still arguing in court rooms, with each other over, about a defendent’s mental health, whether he is a schizophrenic, or not, in control, or sick. Diagnosis is a massive grey area, if you choose to go down that path (and you know I don’t). In my simple view, if you go on a rampage, you’re evil, but they beg to differ. So, it’s a skill to determine whether somebody is planning a massacre, it’s not a science. Even if appointed health professionals were trained to do it, what would the training entail? Also, I imagine not every maniac would contact them with their plan? Remember Timothy McVae? He actually wrote to the ATF, saying there would be bloodshed (“all you tyrannical mother fuckers will swing in the wind one day for your treasonous actions against the Constitution of the United State”. Here is an actual example which wasn’t acted on.

              So yeah, I’m skeptical. I’m not saying it can’t work, but your broad brush strokes would require elaboration, and I’m curious how how specifically you would implement this part of your master plan? Details, David…the devil is in the details.

              Reply
              • David Simon says:

                Again, my broad brush strokes are already in place with regard to child abuse and they aren’t overly broad or amorphous. Do they prevent all child abuse? Of course not. They alert law enforcement to suspicions of some abuse. In that, they are a societal asset.

                Which is what all of the proposed and considered legislation to rationalize gun ownership amounts to. Nothing is a silver bullet. All of it is the creation of a practical web of response that will, we hope, reduce the potential for mass killings.

                I covered crime for 13 years in Baltimore and I spent a year in a homicide unit full time to write a book. I am aware that there is nothing society can do to prevent a determined murderer, particularly one who doesn’t care about being caught, who is expecting to end his rampage with a suicide. The only sure cure for someone who kills furtively is retroactive investigation. Find out who they are and lock them up.

                But the statistics don’t lie — these mass killings are increasing in frequency and especially, because of multi-round magazines and the predominance of semiautomatic handguns, in severity. Now, you must concede, Derek, that the sum of all your responses is to express doubt on all of the proposed legislative and societal responses to these killings. You have been engaged in a selective argument of negation. You, yourself, have not proposed anything specific in response. Ergo, your stance, whether you intend it or not: There’s nothing practical we can do. It’s all a gray area. This is all just evil and beyond our capacity to mitigate. Hope it’s not your six or seven year old in the classroom, or your brother or sister at the movie theater.

                And yet, if you are honest, you will concede that we haven’t as a society even employed the regulation and rationalization that we do for motor vehicles. Nor do we require clergy or health care professionals or emergency medical care workers to alert law enforcement to concerns as we do with other potential crimes. We aren’t even attempting that which we do for less volatile mechanisms than firearms, or for less lethal crimes than mass murder. Why haven’t we? Because of the gun lobby and because of America’s insistently hyperbolic interpretation of one amendment in its founding document. That is an argument worth having, in my opinion.

                A lot of things are in the details. Actuality itself is in the details. But there are two kinds of societies, Derek. In one, citizens shrug and do nothing when children are sacrificed to the great god of the gun. In another, citizens endeavor to use collective will to attempt to interdict the violence. One of those societies is not in absolute decline. Given that the registration and licensing of all drivers and vehicles has created a web of responsibility and liability that have made our roadways safer overall, there is no reason not to attempt to save some lives by reducing the size of magazines, by creating real penalties for owning an unlicensed weapon, by banning automatic weapons under all circumstances and with severe penalties, by closing gun-show loopholes, by implementing the same notification structure for our health care and clergy that we have for other crime categories. As long as law-abiding citizens are still able to maintain firearms, none of that is in legal conflict with the Second Amendment and all of it is legally plausible. Why not try? Why sit back and proudly rest on your skepticism? If all of it is as useless as you say, then the numbers will show themselves in a few years. If any or all of it has some effect, then the numbers will show themselves as well.

                And what are the numbers, Derek? Human lives. Have our societal requirements for motor vehicle use and ownership, and all of the cost and liability and criminal law issues associated with irresponsible driving made the roads safer. Surely. There is a cost to misusing and mishandling an automobile repeatedly, imposed by this society as a whole. Do people still die on the highways? Of course. But we accept the rationalization of our auto culture because by maintaining certain standards we discourage a significant amount of irresponsibility and carnage. Yet, here, with a mechanism that has no affirming function as the auto does, we have not the courage or the political will to attempt any rationalization whatsoever. It’s absurd. And if any effort at rationalization saved even ten percent of those who die by gunfire in America every year, that is thousands of lives saved.

                You’re standing on skepticism and ceremony and little else in all of your arguments.

                Reply
                • derek says:

                  Ugh, I don’t like where this is heading. Neighbourhood snoops continually on the phone to the “health care professionals” about somebody’s “mental health”.

                  Now it’s time for the big guns (pardon the pun, I’m feeling snarky) : My argument is a reiteration of Nietzsche’s assertion that “there is no health as such, and all attempts to define a thing that way have been retched failures. Even the determination of what is healthy for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your energies, your impulses, your errors, and above on the ideals and phantasms of the soul”.

                  Can we disregard mental health arguments in relation to gun control? Make a small allowance for that. Give a little, get a little? Let’s move beyond this now.

                  By all means advocate for stronger gun control measures – based on scientific research, not cherry picked statistical evidence (which we both know is lies, lies and damned lies).

                  Congratulations, you’ve been at the coal-face of crime prevention in the BPD….as an observer. I suppose this gives you the expertise to impose your arguments on the skeptics, in your eyes.

                  Interesting, when it suits you you are willing to compare apples with oranges, re car usage (“Yet, here, with a mechanism that has no affirming function as the auto does”) but when I do it it becomes a “anecdotal evidence”….We’re going round in circles here.

                  I agree that guns have no “affirming function” as the auto does. We finally agree! One is a gun, the other is a car. Totally different tools for different goals.

                  Can we please get back to what I consider the key to gun control. Why are people in the USA going on rampages? Answer this simple question (which difficult answers) and you will solve the problem. Occam’s razor suggests that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. Well, you are making some mighty big assumptions with your proposed solutions.

                  Reply
                  • David Simon says:

                    Occam’s razor.

                    America:

                    A certain incidence of mental dysfunction and alienation — however you chose to define it, whether by disease classification or by describable socioapathy.
                    A certain incidence of assaultive behavior.
                    No gun control to speak of

                    The rest of the West:

                    A comparable incidence of mental dysfunction and alienation
                    A comparable rate of assaultive behavior.
                    Gun control to varying degrees limiting the scope of handgun ownership.

                    Occam cuts that pretty fucking precisely. If you have any other factor you think more substantial than the U.S. culture to explain the differential in gun deaths in America, please elucidate and stop this nonsense already. The fact that we are so many posts into this discussion and you are still behaving like some sort of Socratic coquette, suggesting that it is incumbent upon others to correctly guess your argument is beginning to irritate:

                    “Can we please get back to what I consider the key to gun control. Why are people in the USA going on rampages? Answer this simple question (which difficult answers) and you will solve the problem. Occam’s razor suggests that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. Well, you are making some mighty big assumptions with your proposed solutions.”

                    How about you answer your own fucking questions and make your own fucking argument in grown-up fashion. I’ve argued that the differential is the guns, the guns, the guns. You’ve argued negation of any act to mitigate the guns, but little else of substance, save for your semantic warfare against mental illness as defined as such, which is of no important to the problem at hand.

                    Reply
              • Edward Copeland says:

                Derek wrote: You seem to think that not only the health care professionals and clery, (Edward’s note: I’m guessing you meant clergy and not celery, but with your continued slide into incoherence, one can’t be positive) but the police themselves, would be incapable of sifting real threats from casual and flippant commentary? Why?”
                I do because there is precedent, remember Timothy McVae?. </I?(Edward’s note: Living in OKC when that disaster happened, though anyone who followed the story should know that name was spelled McVeigh. Also, that should really be two sentences and doesn’t need two punctuation marks.) Some health care professionals will be able to determine if someone is about to go postal, some won’t. Think about it. Shrinks are still arguing in court rooms, with each other over, about a defendent’sdefendant’s mental health, whether he is a schizophrenic, or not, in control, or sick. (Edward’s note: You are familiar with the concept in criminal trials where prosecutors and defense attorneys bring in expert witnesses who give testimony most favorable to their case – often for a fee.) Diagnosis is a massive grey area, if you choose to go down that path (and you know I don’t). In my simple view, if you go on a rampage, you’re evil, but they beg to differ. So, it’s a skill to determine whether somebody is planning a massacre, it’s not a science. Even if appointed health professionals were trained to do it, what would the training entail? Also, I imagine not every maniac would contact them with their plan? Remember Timothy McVae? He actually wrote to the ATF, saying there would be bloodshed (“all you tyrannical mother fuckers will swing in the wind one day for your treasonous actions against the Constitution of the United State” Here is an actual example which wasn’t acted on..( Edward’s Note: I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because of examples of McVeigh’s writing I’ve read over the years that he’d leave the s off United States or put the period inside the quote mark.)

                Why did I just waste so much time picking on basic grammar errors and such? Because there isn’t any point in try to engage in thoughtful discourse on the subject with someone who denies the existence of mental illness but believes evil is pervasive so we need heavy artillery, since the government could be most evil and coming us. Derek, they’ve traced the call, it’s coming from inside the computer!

                Reply
                • derek says:

                  Haha, well done Eddie, baby, your post made me laugh. OK, apologies for my poor grammar. I don’t tend to spell check posts to a message board, or re-read them. However…

                  The first mistake you highlight “celery” was actually ” clery” and it was David Simon’s mistake (note correct usage of apostrophe, just for you) in his post, not mine. So I’m still assuming his comment is a” continued slide into incoherence, one can’t be positive”?

                  We go on…

                  “Why did I just waste so much time picking on basic grammar errors and such? Because there isn’t any point in try to engage in thoughtful discourse on the subject [snip]”

                  Let’s not get too self righteous about English grammar on an informal message board….shouldn’t that be “trying” in the above sentence? it’s amusing how often people who correct my grammar make jackasses of themselves.

                  “with someone who denies the existence of mental illness but believes evil is pervasive so we need heavy artillery, since the government could be most evil and coming us. ”

                  Why is this so hard to understand? Logic 101 in my book. There is no disease! THERE IS NO DISEASE! I have repeatedly asked members of this blog to prove me wrong but they are incapable of doing it. I will ask you once more to show me concrete evidence that there is a disease process in schizophrenia, for example, which causes their behavior, I’ll be waiting a loooooog time for that one. Assuming it happens (it won’t because behaviour is not a disease) we won’t be treating schizophrenia with psychotropic medication, let me tell you that, right off the bat. We’ll be treating the underlying organic causes of the disease. Ah, but this is way above your head.

                  “Derek, they’ve traced the call, it’s coming from inside the computer!” Amusing… I’m coming for you. Oops, is that a threat? Better call the 0800 Thought police. I could be dangerous.

                  So, what are you bringing to the table? Nothing but ad hominem…I must be getting somewhere at last (pats himself on the back). Frustrated that I haven’t caved to your weakling arguments? Thought so.

                  Reply
                • derek says:

                  dont bring a nife to a gun fite….

                  Reply
                • Edward Copeland says:

                  Actually, my line about “they’ve traced the call” was a play of a 1970s film “When a Stranger Calls” where the much-parodied line about a terrorized babysitter was “They’ve traced the call — it’s coming from inside the house.” Again, I made the mistake of trying to use sarcasm or satirical humor on someone who obviously doesn’t have a sense of humor. In fact, I’m beginning to believe you might be exhibit A as for as proof goes for people suffering mental illness. I don’t mean to imply that you are going to go off and shoot a bunch of innocent people, but the strings holding your brain in place seem to be unraveling. and I suspect you’re going to melt down, You remind me very much of a commenter on my movie blog who had been so warped by her own worldview that she’d read things into movies and documentaries. She also claimed to be a nurse. When I checked the name of the hospital she was commenting from, it seemed unlikely she’d have that much free time at a psychiatric hospital to produce the volume of comments she did at all hours of the day and night. I left a comment referring to the name of the hospital and asked if she were a nurse or a patient. Never heard from her again. Suspect the same thing with you Derek — especially if you’ve been placed somewhere you don’t feel you belong.

                  Reply
                  • derek says:

                    Whoa..Normally I don’t respond to kooks like you. But you really have to stop claiming people who don’t agree with you are mad. That’s the last bastion of people who aren’t getting their own way. That’s a very low blow, and as such indefensible. How would one prove himself sane? As for humor? Well, if I haven’t seen some douchebag French film with subtitles which tickles your funny bone, my bad. Keep the ad hominem insults coming, blog boy, I assure you I’m nowhere close to meltdown. But keep believing your own drivel if it makes you feel complete.

                    Reply
                  • derek says:

                    Disregarding the irony from somebody who spends his day writing about movies, whilst claiming I read to much into movies and documentaries, blah blah blah, let’s assume that I’am incarcerated in a “hospital” for “treatment” of “mental health illness”, is it your policy to mock the afflicted? Surely, what I would need is some tender love and care. Or do you think I need a good dose of electric shock treatment? The only place I inhibit is the freak show called modern day society, a circus, if you will, and to steal Carlin’s line,one where people who live in the USA you have front row seats.

                    Reply
            • derek says:

              I find your claim that “clery” (just being obtuse, since the grammar police is around) will report pedophilia in their ranks extremely offensive, and naive in the extreme, leaving me to wonder what ties to the Catholic church you might have. And you call yourself a hard-bitten frontline crime reporter? Are you for real? Asking the Catholic priest to report on themselves which members are molesting kids is like asking the LAPD to report which members are brutal sadists….It’s not going to happen. You claim I’ve just got to town on a turnip bus, well, you’re just as naive, perhaps more so.

              Reply
      • kt says:

        I don’t think you meant to post this in response to me, as my post above addressed only media coverage rather than gun control, but I’ll respond anyway:

        I personally don’t think it should be legal for ANYONE to purchase or own long-range semi-automatic weapons or high-volume magazine clips. I believe we’re all well aware that these guns were the property of a legal, registered owner — that’s part of the point. This is a prime example of the truth the NRA won’t admit, that guns do not keep their legal owners safe. Thus why there is no rational reason to allow any civilian to own this type of pseudo-military weaponry — let alone allow them to collect this amount of ammunition and weapons.

        Psychological screening for family members as well as potential gun owners could also be a requirement for gun purchase, I suppose.

        But perhaps you’re trying to tell us something. If you don’t believe gun control will be effective, and you don’t believe in mental illness or psychiatry/psychology, then what DO you think will reduce gun deaths in this country?

        You must have some other solution in mind. I’m sure you don’t think the current state of affairs is acceptable.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          And that is where we lose Derek, apparently.

          He was interested in negation only. A meaningful response to Newtown and the trend that it represents will not be forthcoming from that quarter, apparently.

          Reply
          • Anna Tarkov says:

            May I just say David, that your doggedness on this comment thread (and others) and your overall willingness to engage anyone who comments is astounding for someone in your position. And by “position,” I don’t mean any kind of fame or anything else of that nature. I merely mean that usually anyone with a full-time job and family finds this eventually to be tiresome and not worth their efforts. Or people in general chalk up commenters to crazies in pajamas in their parents’ basements and ignore them altogether. I do not and never have. As long as someone has something somewhat reasonable to say, I will dialogue with them.

            I am exactly like you (as you are somewhat aware from our past on the Columbia Journalism Review website :-)) and just love it when I come across ANYONE who is a kindred spirit, much less someone whose work I admire as much as yours. So thanks I guess for being the way you are :-)

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              I want this site to engender discussion and argument. But not the weakass back-and-forth that follows every posting on so many mainstream sites. That requires me to take seriously everyone when they are — to the best of my ability to discern — trying hard to engage on substance. It is frustrating when it ends in arguments that become circular or stunted or juvenile. But now and again something of interest happens, and sometimes, my own thoughts are revised and reconstructed, or sharpened, through the exchanges. I believe in argument. But a good argument is sometimes hard to manufacture. It takes two, at least.

              Reply
  16. Bruce says:

    “There but for the grace of God go I” is the watchword here. When you promote gun control you’re telling the NRA some of their members are the sort of people who shoot up schools and movie theatres. Otherwise law-abiding people are offended at this even if you’re careful not to apply it to specific officers of the NRA.

    The NRA is a broken record — as it has to be. It’s purpose in life is to defend guns. There is no such organization here in Canada because we’ve had restrictive gun ownership laws for a long time and there is no equivalent of the US 2nd Amendment to override Parliament. The results here are hard to argue with — far lower rates of homicide. Such guns as are found among criminals are mostly stolen in the US and then brought across the border. Some advocates here of less restrictive laws claim that the 300,000,000 US guns make our own laws somewhat arbitrary.

    Rand Paul makes the interesting point that however you might restrict NON-MILITARY access to assault weapons in the US, they are still being used outside the US by the military and proxies (so-called contractors, CIA, special forces, etc) to create untold mayhem and long-term resentment of the US, all in the name of the so-called, never-ending “war on terror”.

    Reply
  17. derek says:

    Banning guns is just putting an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.The problem isn’t guns, or for that matter bombs, knives, or any other weapon capable of killing, it’s what people do with them. The question politicians should be asking – since they have the power to make a difference – is why do these nuts want to kill lots of people? The method they eventually use in homicidal rage is really irrelevant, it’s what’s in their black hearts prior to their killing spree which is more prevalent and needs resolving. Take away a madman’s toolbox, and you’re still left with a madman.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Explain please how so many other Western democracies that have the same approximate rates of mental illness and the same rates of common assault — but maintain more strigent gun control and significant penalties for possession of a firearm — have murder, suicide and accidental shooting rates that are small fractions of the United States.

      Rarely has the empirical data been so transparent.

      Reply
      • derek says:

        First of all, Mental illness is a myth. Brain disease, yes, but a disease of the mind? No. There is no such thing. That’s part of the problem right there. No personal responsibility. A culture which medicalises bad behaviour. So lets disregard that part of your argument. Second, in answer to your question. Two words : South Africa. It’s a democracy, and it has on of the highest murder rates in the world.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          You are not arguing with me here, you are arguing with the DSM. Mental impairments of all kinds of been documented empirically for generations now. And some have been successfully treated or mitigated by various therapies, both pharmacological and behavioral. Merely because you decide to declare this documented and demonstrable reality a myth does not make it so.

          Your second argument is subject to a more immediate dismissal. South Africa is not a Western democracy. By any definition. It is a democracy, but merely grafting on democratic structures to a country that until less than two decades ago was a totalitarian regime in which the majority was brutality held in poverty and isolation does not constitute a plausible comparison. I said Western democracies — the developed West, not the undeveloped world. The U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain — even Japan, structured as it is in the postwar world along the lines of the developed West — have significant gun control legislation. They have comparable rates of diagnosed mental illness. They have comparable rates of common assault. They simply have murder rates that are tiny fractions of our own. Do better.

          Declaring that mental illness doesn’t exist because you wish it to be so — absent any evidence presented, and in ignorance of all empirical evidence to the contrary — isn’t an argument worth consideration. Mistaking a Third-World democracy in a state that is struggling to bring itself to developed status after years of brutal, violent totalitarianism is not a useful or intelligent cite of a developed First World democracy that has a murder rate anywhere close to ours. None exist. None.

          You are entitled to your own opinions. But as Mr. Moynihan aptly stated, you are not entitled to your own facts. They are what they are.

          Reply
          • derek says:

            Actually, it is worth arguing about so called mental-illness. I suggest you read Dr Szasz’ critiques of the psuedo scientific mumbo jumbo commonly called psychology, and worshiped like a new religion. Prove to me that there are known biological causative factors, as is the case for cancer, for any number of so called mental illness, and I’ll concede the point. I think you’ll find there isn’t any. And if there were, would these diseases be treated by talking cures? I don’t think so! So saying there are comparable rates of mental illness proves nothing to me. Maybe it does to you, but I believe in science, not hoodoo-voodoo. But we digress. People who kill other people are not mad…they know what they’re doing. Banning guns still leaves a lot of deranged evil people in the world. Hey, guess what? We’re still evolving. Trying to cure the cancer by cutting off the head is stupid…and against the principles of freedom.

            Reply
            • derek says:

              btw – the DSM is bs.

              Reply
            • David Simon says:

              Disagree fundamentally. You seem to want to worship one narrow channel of science — biological — at the exclusion of all the fundamental work in behavioral science that has proven to be so valuable over the last century. If nature is the universal causation of mental disturbance, and nuture as you claim has no relevance, then why should we care about, say, parenting.

              The damage done to children at the earliest age by deprivations and abuse — and the resulting sociopathy — has been amply documented. Your calling all of that work silly names reflects not on the behavioral science that has produced so many valuable insights into human behavior and abnormal pyschology, it reflects on your own ignorance. Begin with B.F. Skinner and read more widely than you obviously have. If you don’t want to accept that demonstrable evidence has been accumulated on mental illness and its causes — both biological and behavioral — then fine. But you are wasting your time with me. I studied a great deal of behavioral science. I admire its insights and I am aware, in many real-life instances, in the specific ways that psychology and its various therapies have countered mental pathologies and distubances and improved peoples lives.

              You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. And apparently, you are, indeed, trying.

              Reply
              • derek says:

                Shakes head in awe at the argument presented. Not. I’m a gittin’ tired of your obstinate and misguided worship of “behavioural science”. It’s laughable, but so be it. For the record, I hold a BSc in psychology from a UK university. With honors. So it seems we’ve both studied the fairy tales, only I have the papers to prove it. I’ve studied Skinner, Watson, Freud et al, up the ying yang. Unlike you however I have also studied the works of Dr Szasz, as it was part of the course, and his books are available in every Psychological department library I’ve ever visited. These are not new criticisms of your “behavioural science” but they are ignored, for various reasons. I’m not calling Psychology “silly names”. I’m calling it like it is. It is not a science, nor can it be. Ever. It doesn’t meet the five criteria of a true science. Clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability. But like its slavish followers you ignore these criticisms in your fawning pursuit of the unpursuable. I’ll grant you my stance is unpopular, but it doesn’t make it wrong. What you believe is fine with me, if it gets you through the day. Psychology has no more value to understanding human nature, and probably far less, than any other insight gained into the human condition by authors like Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, etc. People like you who have blind faith because “we say it” remind me of the saying regarding prejudice. A belief founded without logic, cannot be removed with logic.It seems we are indeed on opposite sides of the argument on this, and we’ll have to agree to disagree. I have not, and this is disingenuous of you, said that nurture has no relevance to the outcome of human behaviour. My belief is the opposite as it happens. I say the DSM is pure bullshit because, and the actual title is the give away, shrinks base diagnosis on statistics, because they don’t have any biological tools to diagnose their so called “mental illness”. What absolute nonsense. Do you diagnose cancer on a mathematical formula? No. Until this reliance on a pseudo science, and its associated “quick cures” is held in LESS regard, the same problems society has will continue, and worsen.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  You just referred to Freud as a behavioral scientist. I’ll leave it at that, except to say that if I had a friend or relative with a mental health need, I would pray to god that he received actual clinical help from someone who has a higher regard for all of the available interventions than you are demonstrating. Your stance is unpopular for a reason. It is a semantic diabtribe that does nothing to address the actual needs of any actual patients. If you have ever practiced as a mental health professional in any capacity — using any semantic paradigm, or following any particular therapeutic endeavor — I’d like to hear more about that.

                  Frankly, you don’t seem to be engaged in the same dialectic that successful sociologists and psychologists employ on a routine basis. And indeed, I know people who have been able to change self-destructive and destructive behaviors through the interventions of professionals utilizing combinations of behavioral strategies, counseling and at points, pharmacology. I don’t know of anyone who has been aided by your discourse on what we should call mental distress or why only that which you can measure in a beaker is empirical.

                  Reply
                  • derek says:

                    I’m a trainee nurse. So eventually, I’ll be providing acute medical care based on scientific endeavor (and a friendly bedside manner), but I won’t be getting involved in any mental health nursing based on fallacy, for one simple reason, I don’t believe in the institution of psychiatry and it’s fucked up doctrine. The only thing which shrinks are good at is medicalising aberrant behaviour (not illness) which they have decided is unfit for purpose, with strong drugs. Remember not that long ago homosexuality was regarded by your church as a mental illness. What was the cure?There is no cure, because it’s not an illness. In many many cases psychiatric cure is worse than any “illness”. Don’t kid yourself that giving drugs to schizophrenics, or sociopaths (a term I disagree with, but will use for ease) for example, cures them. Why is it in fact that Shrinks don’t treat so-called psycopaths with drugs? Because they have decided they are beyond treatment. How convenient. Wow, what a mental illness they can’t treat? Correct! Because it doesn’t exist. Psychiatry has become the new church. People cure themselves. Remember Macbeth? “Therein the patient
                    Must minister to himself.” That hasn’t changed. For me to practice any psychological techniques on so called “mental patients” would be like belonging to the Catholic church but renouncing God (which I do btw).

                    So, these deranged shooters can’t be helped. They’re too fucked up. You have to get to them before they get to that point. Not afterwards. They don’t go on gun rampages because they’re mad. They’re damaged people who have become evil. Implement social strategies to improve people’s lives during childhood. Not knee jerk reactions and bandage solutions for cancerous grown souls.

                    Reply
                    • David Simon says:

                      We must simply disagree on all of this.

                      My experiences with valued psychologists and sociologists argues otherwise in the extreme.

            • kt says:

              So wait, “evil” is real (and, presumably, there is scientific proof it exists) but mental illness isn’t?

              O-kay. I guess we should just pray, then?

              Reply
              • David Simon says:

                Seriously. Why deal with the mechanics of guns, and accessibility and violence and unstable human cohorts, when we can get into a semantic argument on mental illness v. evil. Ridiculous.

                Reply
                • Edward Copeland says:

                  Well, I’m convinced now. If guns aren’t the problem and we’re back to the old cliché (guns don’t kill people, people do), then the only solution we have is to ban people. Honestly, pretty much all of our problems can be traced back to people. What a pestilence! I guess we’ll have to start with mass sterilization since we know from history that people aren’t smart enough to figure out rudimentary birth control. At last! We will protect our children by not producing any more and our weapons and ammunition will be safe. Shew! Glad we settled that.

                  Reply
                  • Bruce says:

                    The argument of what remedies we have for extreme actions boils down to picking low-hanging fruit, if you’ll pardon a mixed metaphor. The low-hanging fruit is banning assault weapons since they are a new feature of gun ownership, and their existence in civilian has corresponded with an increase in mass shootings.

                    It’s easy to argue that this isn’t a complete answer. Prevention may help. Security guards that withstand these weapons in the schools?? Few security guards have intense military training. If this becomes common, we’ll eventually see the “guard” within a school as the agent of destruction in a shooting.

                    Once assault weapons are banned (as they are here in Canada), then what about lesser weapons?

                    As for the NRA itself, has anyone done an analysis of how many armed criminals are NRA members? Should we be grateful that the remainder of NRA members at least don’t injure their own families in accidents? That was once the mandate of the NRA – proper handling of firearms – not promotion of indiscriminate use.

                    Apparently high schools in the USA have rifle shooting as a sport. That would be impossible here (persons under 18 could not get the necessary permits). But allowing for proper permits, maybe that’s a useful outlet of aggression.

                    Reply
                  • derek says:

                    RE : Guns don’t kill people. Why is it a cliche? Because like all cliches, there is often an element of truth. Why are we even having this conversation about guns? It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the death caused by alcohol, for example, or smoking, but nobody seems to want to ban those to activities. OK, correction, they do. It’s the same mentality. Ban everything which harms us, and turn society into an anodyne dystopia.

                    Reply
                    • David Simon says:

                      People who self-medicate with alcohol or drugs are either giving themselves some modest and temporal pleasure — if they are using those substances in moderation — or they are being self-destructive. People who misuse handguns are murdering other people.

                      Furthermore, those who drive a vehicle are using a mechanism for practical purpose in modern life. A car has other purposes beside targeting human life.

                      A gun does not fit under any of the above definitions. The desperation of gun advocates to equivocate on this point and compare firearms with potentially lethal mechanisms and substances that occupy distinctly different places in society is telling. We are having a conversation about guns because alone among all of this, firearms — particularly those with a high-rate of fire and large magazines — are capable of destroying human life wholesale. This is citizens having their lives taken from them unwillingly, and by intent.

                      So enough bullshit comparing guns to alcohol or drugs or or cars or chainsaws.

                      A specious argument defined: We can’t do anything about alohcol, or drugs or other circumstances in which lives are lost. So we shouldn’t try to address gun violence in America. Not buying that one, for obvious reasons.

                      Look at the practical regulation and licensing involved in our societal use of vehicles, or alcohol, or drugs. Look at the societal sanction involved in the misuse of those substances or mechanisms. And some of that regulation — with motor vehicles, for example, results in real rationalization and benefit for society. Even with drugs — we might one day rationalize addiction, but we aren’t going to be selling heroin in parking lots without paperwork and some oversight. No, that would be a gun show. It’s astonishing how little we do to rationalize the only element in our society that creates mass human casualties by intent.

                    • Edward Copeland says:

                      I don’t know why I attempt sarcasm or satire on people who can’t see the trees for the forest.

          • derek says:

            I also suggest you look at the Anders Behring Breivik gun massacre. In Norway there are 1,320,000 million estimated guns held by citizens. One lone nut went berzerk. In percentage terms that’s not even a gnat sitting on a pimple. Would banning handguns reduce Norway’s pithling gun crime? Nope. Try harder. Banning harmless freedoms is a knee jerk reaction of totalitarian states, the ones you condemn in South Africa, and is quite hypocritical of you. Should we ban cars which cause more death and destruction than handguns? Nope.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              I suggest you lose your weak reliance on the anecdotal.

              Here are the facts: America is five percent of the world population in possession of 50 percent of the world’s privately held guns. Our murder rates
              are geometrically larger when compared with other developed Western-style democracies. Not larger. Geometrically larger. Their rates of handgun violence — homicide, suicide, accidental shootings — are miniscule when comapred with our own. Those nations have as high a rate of mental illness — call it what you want, but it remains an incidence of a human being requiring medical or psychological intervention because of abnormal behavior — as we have. They have a rate of common assault comparable to the United States. What they don’t have is universal, unimpeded, unlicensed access to all forms of weaponry, regardless.

              Citing a singular massacre in Norway to cover for your previous embarrassing cite of South Africa reveals your unwillingness to deal with the totality of the above. Here’s a more salient fact that overwhelms any truth you hope to manufacture from Norway: In the last fifty years, and again, with only five percent of the world population, fully three quarters of all mass killings by civilian assailants have occurred on American soil.

              Again, rarely has the empirical data been so utterly, ridiculously apparent. And so, advocates for maintaining America’s gun culture must rush — not to address the ramifications of that culture, but to argue about the definition of mental illness, or to blame violent imagery in the media despite the fact that other, less violent nations consume the same imagery, or to desperately rush around seeking for a hoped-fpr anomaly to disprove the overwhelming data (South Africa! Norway!).

              Not only do I disagree with your semantic nonsense about there being no such thing as mental illness, I will suggest that the American embrace of the firearm and its concommitant cost to our society and humanity is a manifestation of a specifically American pathology.

              Reply
              • derek says:

                Your argument boils down to one thing. The number of hand guns available means more killing. Why then is it that with Norway’s estimated 1,320,000 privately held hand guns there aren’t more gun massacres if there is a strict correlation between guns and crime? Do better. If you increased Norways privately held guns ten fold, my guess is there would still be less gun crime in Norway because it has nothing to do with gun ownership, it is a cultural phenomenon.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  Actually, my arguments have — if you read through the comments — been more detailed and cohesive than that. And they have not argued for a prohibition on registered, licensed firearms. They have, however, argued for registration, licensing, training of firearms owners as is common throughout the rest of the developed West. And it calls for punitive measures against those caught operating outside that system, and for the system to be national in scope. You’re right it’s a cultural phenomnenon. That being the American gun culture, in all of its irresponsible, unregulated, irrational authority.

                  Reply
              • derek says:

                I agree that the problem is related to American “pathology” but so what? America relies on cars, should we ban cars because they cause so much death and destruction? No. You look at the root causes of societies problems if you want to cure them, not on the symptoms.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  Cars have a function — an essential function — other than to bring lethal force to bear on another human being. And yet, by heedlessly invoking automobiles, you’ve leaned into the punch.

                  How about we require basic training in gun use and ownership, and how about we regulate gun owners and their performance and restrict those who are reckless? How about we require insurance from gun owners against the event their weapons are used to harm others. And how about a construct by which there is a financial penalty under that insurance framework for those who fail to secure their weapons, or who misuse them? And how about criminal penalties for anyone operating or transporting an unregistered, unlicensed handgun? And how about criminal penalties for anyone using a firearm without being licensed and tested on that class of firearms? We do all of that with autos.

                  And of course, motor vehicles are more of an essential to American life than handguns. By far. We do it and no one thinks twice about arguing against the viability of the state registering and inspecting vehicles, and licensing and regulating drivers. And we of course implement all kinds of motor vehicle laws that put penalties on the unsafe use of motor vehicles. So the next time you come with some weak-ass analogy about cars and guns, follow it through.

                  Again, the incidence of mental instability is comparable in other Western democracies that have far less deaths by firearm than the United States. And the rate of common assault is comparable. Meaning that the impulse toward violence is not uniquely American, by any means. What is uniquely American is a nation-state in which five percent of the world population, living in a developed society, feel the need to possess 50 percent of the privately owned firearms. And the rate of fire from the average weapon has gone from five or six in a cylinder to 18 to 22 in a clip in two generations. This is not about semantics, or about how to define mental illness. It’s about the mechanics and availability of modern handguns. You’ve yet to explain Japan or the U.K. or Germany or France or Italy or any number of comparable developed democracies. The only thing different in those countries isn’t the incidence of mental instability, or the incidence of common assault, or the imagery of violence in their media, or the heterogenity of their populations, which like ours, have become notable melting pots. The difference is our gun culture. And our political and legal non-response to the misuse of firearms by the civilian population.

                  Reply
                  • derek says:

                    “They have however argued for registration, licensing, training of firearms owners as is common throughout the rest of the developed West.”

                    What difference will this make?There will be more interference from government. If that appeals like that so much, why don’t you move to Canada? When has it ever been a good idea? It’ll lead to more taxes, and more curtailing of freedoms for the majority of gun owners who aren’t evil, and any future massacres – and we both know they’re coming – will be carried out by better trained assassins, because the desire to commit these crimes are embedded in certain members of the American psyche. How do you intend to enforce all these safety measures? At what cost? Anyway, guns aren’t solely designed to bring “lethal force” to another human being. What about peaceful hunters? Italy, Japan, UK? Different cultures. Why not compare the USA to Canada? If you like Japan so much, go and live there. What you’re suggesting is somehow to change the culture, by tampering with freedom, implemented with a good dose of social engineering by people whom YOU deem appropriate for the task. Remember, it’s ‘we the people’, not, me and my friends, who know what’s best for you. What other parts of the constitution don’t appeal to you? Why are you so hung up on the West? Europe is a dinosaur in decline,and the USA shouldn’t be taking lessons from them, it should be handing them out. Let’s aim to turn the USA into Greece. Would that make you happy? We can be entirely safe, and very poor.Sorry to be flippant, but you’re arguments aren’t convincing me. Read article on your beloved western paradise, the UK, and please comment :

                    “Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports”

                    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323777204578195470446855466.html

                    Reply
                    • David Simon says:

                      The use of handguns in the U.K. is still a small fraction of what it is in our country. It has gone up, true, but that is due to the rise of multinational organized crime in London largely, and the fairer question is what might have become of the U.K. without the ban. With it, their rate of handgun assault is miniscule compared to the United States. Without it? Youth-gang culture in London still invests heavily in knives as the preferred weapon, because getting caught with a firearm exposes citizens there to significant penalty. And the fatality rate from knifings is modest compared to firearm assaults. It’s quite hard to end life with a blunt-force instrument or a knife. Any pathologist can assure you of this. A madman in China, on the same day as Newtown, stabbed more than a dozen students at a school. All lived.

                      I am not of the opinion that Europe is in decline. I’ve spent considerable time in Western Europe and their standard of living, their health care, their risk of crime, their general demeanor as a society is in many ways admirable and superior to our own. Standards of society such as life expectancy and infant mortality are superior to our own. I find your generalizations to be in contradiction to my own experiences and everything I have read. Moreover, the economic failures of various governments under the Euro — a crisis brought on by our own market manipulations and the collapse of the subprime bubble — scarcely seems like more than a non sequitur with regard to how to address any social issue such as gun control.

                      Further, your understanding of democracy is backwards to me. “We the people” is a statement of republicanism (lowercase “R”). It argues for collective action by representative government. Liberty alone is no measure for a great society. Liberty must be tempered by the collective responsibility of citizenship in a republic. Those who argue for pure liberty without civic responsibility have my considered contempt. If communal acts violate basic liberties they need to be reconsidered, I agree. But if liberty comes at the continued brutalization of those less fortunate or more vulnerable, then liberty isn’t worth anyone’s righteous passion. A great society is not built at the far margins of either liberty and responsibility. It is built in the considered space between the two. Gun advocates who are at one margin and oblivious to the rest of the civic ordeal are failing a basic premise of republican citizenship.

                      You say gun control will mean more interference from government. I say a little interference from our government — after massacre after massacre — is a good thing. And for you to argue that it will be excess, you might as well argue that we have no business regulation and licensing the ownership and use of motor vehicles, yet we do, and to valuable societal effect. If we attach a a corresponding minimum mandatory criminal penalty for operating outside the nationalized legal processes for gun ownership and registration, we may begin to dismantle the culture of loophole and indifference that has allowed our society to become the most dangerous and lethal in the developed world. If it led to even a four or five percent decrease in the homicide rate that is thousands of lives. We have never tried it. Other nations have. Their rates of violence and tragedy are miniscule compared to our own.

                      If there is no benefit, then we can discuss that fact after a few years of attempted reform. And what will it have cost us? More interference? Some paperwork? A few fees? That is where you are making your stand? How callow. How selfish. How many forms would I fill out, how much licensing and registration would I tolerate, how many gun-show loopholes would I close, how many fewer bullets in my semiauto mag would I accept if you could tell me that three or four thousand Americans might — just might — be alive next year for the price of my endurance? Name the hassle. I’d suffer.

                      In the grand scheme of things — the grand scheme being the great value of human life weighed against the modest cost of some “governmental interference” — I am not so self-centered as to begrudge the American collective the chance to be utilitarian.

                      Yes, it is a hassle to go through the TSA lines at the airport, and I fly almost weekly. But then again, no one has brought down an American airliner in more than a decade. Are the two related? I think so, but there is no way to be sure. Yet I am inclined to endure what I endure for even the chance at saving another American’s life. A citizen does that. Something less than a citizen bitches about the personal cost of service to the society as a whole.

                    • Anna Tarkov says:

                      The assertion that if someone doesn’t like the way things are here, they should go live in Canada or Japan is an extremely juvenile thing to say. Because only a child who can’t have their way in one room would cross their arms and storm off to another room. An ADULT tries to make things better so they can stay where they are and make it a better place for others.

                      By extension, citizens of a healthy democratic society should strive to make their country better rather than abandon it for one that more closely fits their preferences. That is the definition of patriotism and the definition of being active an active participant in a civil society. But I suppose it makes sense that you don’t want to be part of such a society. I have found that many gun advocates are the sort of people who look with suspicion upon anything resembling a common good. Because anything of that nature seems to speak to them of some dreaded idea of collectivism or (GASP!) socialism. That is the root of the disconnect on this and many other issues. It makes me deeply, profoundly sad. But no matter how sad I get, I won’t go to Canada or anywhere else. This is my country and I will work to make it better. Shame on you for suggesting anything otherwise.

                    • M J OHIO says:

                      Somehow you are equaitng gun cuntrol measures to the overall health of an economy, which is bizarre because there is no correlation there whatsoever.

                      Greece went under due to a culutre of tax evasion, fraud and with the help of Goldman Sachs who helped hide Greece’s true budget deficits for years before the shit hit the fan there. Greece was never a socialist economy, an unfortunate reality for the libertarian types who point the finger at government alone when anything goes wrong. The rich refused to play by the rules there, hence the country imploded.

                      As for the UK, are there not other factors involved in crime rates, such as a ridiculous income disparity which creates a class of desperate people, high umemployment and low wage jobs brought by globalization, or maybe recently the punitive, unnecessary austerity measures brought to the middle and lower class by their conservative government?

                      I’ll throw it right back at you: You want no “interferemce” from government go live in Somalia. That way you can petition a local war lord for your grievances and have the awesome and glorious honor of hauling an AK-47 around with you openly wherever you go, all the time.

                      By the way, I don’t understand your low opinion of Canada, they have very little debt, national health care, a solid economy with low unemployment, and most of them look at the USA the last few years as being a nation of gun toting Neanderthalic nut bags. Put it to a vote there and see how many want their health care system privatized….you might get 10% there on your side of the ledger. Because they’ve seen it both ways, and they know what works better for the most possible people.

    • DGN says:

      “Take away a madman’s toolbox, and you’re still left with a madman.”

      I think that’s exactly the point we’re all trying to make. A carpenter without any tools may still be a carpenter, but I’m not going to ask him to build me a house. Take away a firearm (especially a powerful one) from a madman and while he still may be a madman, he’s not going to be able to do what he wants to do nearly as effectively.

      Reply
  18. Michael Li says:

    Complete respect for David Simon. Great arguments and knows how to argue.

    The only comparable voice I’ve read so far is Adam Gopnik’s, on the New Yorker blog.

    Reply
  19. Sam says:

    Thought this might add to the discussion.

    Reply
    • M J OHIO says:

      Well, he managed to villify the police and even veterans for the glorification of our gun culture.

      He parses, or “jukes” stats very well.

      The presence of a gun in an altercation results in fewer injuries than altercations in which nobody is armed. But how about deaths as opposed to injuries in general? Does the presence of a gun in an altercation result in a less likelihood of somebody dying or a greater likelihood? I think we all know the answer to that one. And I don’t believe he even delved into the area of accidents involving guns that kill kids on a daily basis.

      To his credit he does elude to the fact that the crime rate in America correlates highly with the percentage of the population that is made up of young men. The higher that percentage, the more crime there will be. In Freakonomics, the authors show that the sharp decrease in crime in NYC right around the time Guliani became mayor is traceable to Roe v Wade. Guiliani’s heavy handed stance towards petty criminals had virtually nothing to do with the transformation there. But Guliani took the credit as any politician would.

      It is interesting that he views the American left as consisting of well to do people living in gated communities and somehow shielded from the realities of the lives of the good, honest, hard working conservative folk. WTF was that about? He lost me there.

      But he also seems to be making a classic straw man argument – that what we on the left want is a ban on all guns. There are a few of us that would like to see that, but not many. Most of us want tighter controls, registrations, and a ban on ownership of automatic weapons and high capacity magazines, which are absolutely not necessary for home defense. I can’t remember where I read this, but the best quote on this issue I read was “Saying that you need an automatic weapon to defend your home is like saying you need a blow torch to light a cigarette.”

      But libertarians (as I assume this person to be) have a way of being dismissive about things like dead kids. “Nothing to see here” has always been the battle cry of guys like John Stossel or whoever, when it comes to anything from climate change to wealth distribution to gun control. The market will just drop some fairy dust on us all and there will be joy in our Kingdom once again.

      Reply
  20. Jon says:

    Wayne LaPierre – this is a man who clearly does not know how to think big. And so I’d like to offer my services for his followup press conference.

    I misspoke earlier when I recommended armed guards for schools. On further consideration, there is no practical way to establish armed guards in each classroom; even an elite cadre of teachers cross-trained in Language Arts and Violence Studies would be insufficient.

    With this in mind, and with only the greatest love for our nation’s children in my heart, I propose the following modest steps:

    What we need are armed children. Well-trained, with NRA coursework in NRA-accredited Shooters’ Universities, of course; the NRA would be only too delighted to take over some of the larger existent universities to turn them to the necessary ends, and what American university would not be delighted to do their part in protecting our children? No one is suggesting arming anyone under seven with heavy machine guns, of course; children under seven certainly do not have the necessary discipline to learn basic safety, much less the hand strength to successfully wield such a weapon. So, for children four to seven, shotguns are recommended; for children three to four, 9mm handguns; for children under three but older than one, nothing heavier than a .22 is recommended, though parents who are truly concerned for the safety of their offspring will of course desire a backup .38 in each sock and a military-grade knife in the student’s backpack.

    So, that takes care of the children. But basic safety requires going further. and the NRA is for the safety of all Americans. So the NRA will be delighted to offer the services of our mostly-trained, certainly dues-paying members, and their private reserve of heavy-tread vehicles, equipped with the latest in psychotic suppression technology. At 32,000 rounds per minute, any individuals who have managed to slip through our system’s excellent mental-health safety net will be rendered into their constituent parts in less time than it takes to call your congressman to urge him to support this offer.

    Of course, no offering would be complete without nuclear weapons. Our founding fathers wanted us to be able to resist the tyranny of the government, and what better way to do that than MIRVs? In today’s dangerous environment, it’s indisputable that the best defense is a good offense; pre-emptive strike capability will leave our children glowing with good health, and their teachers blown away with our generosity.

    Of course, some will say that this does not go far enough; to these individuals, in all humble sincerity I offer our latest technology in safety assurance: The K-11 PlanetBuster. It causes me the deepest regret to tell you that fully one third of Americans are so short-sighted as to think that an asteroid one thousand, nine-hundred and eighty-four miles in diameter would be bad for the environment, but the vast majority of us know that the only way to truly protect America–indeed, the world–is to avoid not only human-on-human violence but also global warming, the fiscal cliff, and the perils of liberal democracy, and what better way to do so than to gently wield this most influential of deterrents. Why, if the K-11 can be guided in at the proper angle of approach, I can guarantee you, ladies and gentlemen, that a brave new world will be brought into being, and those damn dirty apes will–

    :: signal lost ::

    Reply
  21. Kelly says:

    LaPierre’s other highlight in the shitshow that was his press conference was his suggestion to make a database of the mentally ill. Seriously, Wayne? The fact that this man could suggest with a straight face that people should have less rights than guns proves the NRA needs to shut up and go away forever.

    The last thing I want to live in is this kind of society.

    Reply
  22. pb says:

    Two articles on the shooting at Sandy Hook but nothing about the hundreds of innocent people killed by President Obama’s drones in the Middle East. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, despite your claim to be a member of the “true left”.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      One of the more dishonorable arugmentative fallacies is to avoid the substance of what is being debated by asserting for some agenda that, while off-topic, is more pleasing to one’s own ear. You add nothing to the actual discussion in progress, and by globalizing the specific to no purpose, the argument becomes diffuse and achieves no consensus on anything specific.

      I hold that tactic in particularly low regard.

      Not as low as ad hominem. Your base and ridiculous attempt to imply a hypocrisy on my part by stating, falsely, that I have ever claimed to be a member of the the “true left” is just embarrassing on your part. I have no interest in claiming to be part of any ideology. I believe that anyone who defines all their arguments and opinions by their fealty to true-test liberalism, or conservatism, or libertarianism, or Marxism is on some level, a fool. Show me a true ideologue and I’ll show you someone about to do or say something stupid. Perhaps that’s your very problem, right there. But that’s not for me to say, I agree. All I know is that was a ridiculous post on your part.

      Reply
      • PB says:

        From a reply you made to Raj on 11/8/12 in Barack Obama And The Death of Normal: “I am not the pseudo-left. I am the real left.”

        Yes, I accidentally said “true left” but my meaning was clear. Apparently you are not aware of your own ideology.

        Obviously I haven’t been on your website in a while but unsurprisingly you’ve added no new posts. I guess it’s hard to talk about Obama’s historic reelection when he turns around and renews FISA, keeps Guantanamo open and folds on the fiscal cliff debate.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          You do understand that when someone obnoxiously brands someone else as the pseudo-anything that the requisite response is to assert for authenticity. To people who use “left” and “right” as mere labels and insults, I am inclined to invoke the same words as compliments, simply because labeling is a crippling rhetorical technique that reduces any argument to name-calling.

          I haven’t been posting because I am on set with Treme and I owe those scripts. There is a whole post to that effect, actually, from about a month ago. Try to make your points without resorting to ad hominem guesswork about the motivations of others. The facts themselves are relevant only.

          Reply
    • kt says:

      Wait, is this an either/or proposition? We gotta care about the kids in Baghdad OR the kids in Sandy Hook? How about: the fact that we’re so callous and ignorant towards individual violence in our own society is entirely connected to our willingness to commit war atrocities overseas, and part of the same cultural illness?

      Besides, most people are capable of caring about two (or even more!) things at the same time.

      Reply
      • PB says:

        No, it’s definitely not an either/or thing and I think there is a strong relationship between our violence overseas and our violence at home.

        But people like Barack Obama and David Simon will shed tears for dead American children while callously ignoring the deaths of children in the Middle East who are killed by our drones.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          “people like Barack Obama and David Simon will…”

          Two sentences and you can’t bear to simply make your argument — as simplistic and hyperbolic as it might be — without resorting to a pair of rhetorical fallacies.

          1) David Simon is “like” a certain type of person and therefore he thinks in a negative and hypocritical fashion.
          2) Rather than evidence his poor thinking in specific detail, I simply apply guilt by association and assert for a cohort that includes someone else I hold in low regard.

          Arguments can be better than this. Though perhaps not, given the way you’ve chosen to proceed thus far.

          Reply
        • Seamus says:

          Since when do Obama and Simon agree on everything?( war on drugs, hello?) How do you know that David Simon is “callously ignoring the deaths of children in the middle east”, can you can read his mind? Your criticism of the drone attacks would be fair if the topic was American foreign policy, but it has nothing to do with Sandy Hook. There is a difference between the horse shit that is our gun policy and the bull shit that is our foreign policy and it is not subtle; just because they both involve violence does not mean they are connected in any significant way. And by trying to conflate the two, you do a disservice to the victims of both.

          Reply
  23. John Payant says:

    I cannot believe Wayne LaPierre had the audacity to not only say what he said today-blame video games, movies & the fact that the schools were unarmed-but show his true cowardice by not taking questions. How can he be so tough talking, but be so afraid of a free-thinking reporter who may counter his point? Plus, isn’t the right-wing Republican party anti-tax? How the hell would this country pay for the police to be at every school? And what would this image do to our elementary and middle school children’s development? The NRA did better by keeping its mouth shut.

    Reply
    • Katie Ford Hall says:

      One thing is for sure. That jackass convinced me that violent video games are NOT the problem.

      There was an armed guard at Columbine. 34 at Virginia Tech. Never mind the facts though.

      Code Pink rocked.

      Reply
  24. DGN says:

    The NRA made the point today that “the only way to stop an armed bad guy is with an armed good guy”. Why don’t we prevent the fucking bad guys from being armed in the first place? Is that really such an unthinkable goal?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      As if money is no object. Do you know how many school buildings there are in America? And how large some of those physical plants are? Universities? Colleges? In my city, the Baltimore public school system already has its own armed police department. But to plant an officer at every school, they’d have to triple the size of the force. Do you how much money would be required to be taken from the actual purpose of the school system? How much in instructional budgets, educational salaries? We, the taxpayers, should spend extraordinary amounts of our national revenue to protect ourselves from that which these people deem beyond anyone’s rights or capacities to regulate.

      Insanity. Moronic, selfish insanity.

      Reply
      • DGN says:

        Especially when these are some of the same people who won’t agree to raising taxes even a penny at any point on anybody.

        Reply
      • kt says:

        I didn’t notice them offering to pony up any of their gajillions of lobbying money for the cause, either! Oh, no, the government will just pay for it. When did they become pro-“big government” anyway???

        It’s hard to believe that any organization can be this tone-deaf, but apparently for the NRA, a massacre of small children and their caretakers is just another excuse for a recruitment drive.

        Bless Code Pink for disrupting LaPierre’s shameless rant.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Also, can someone explain to these morons a basic fact of modern policing: Every big-city police commander understands the limits of 911, meaning that even the best response times in the world can’t prevent a determined murderwe or achieve enough good fortune to catch a murder on-view. Meaning, unless you have money enough to put a cop on every corner, in every building, in any possible point of entrance or exit, the 911 call will go through dispatch and the radio car or patrolman will always arrive late.

          Foot patrols don’t prevent crime. More post cars don’t prevent crime. They make us feel better because we know they are there. But that isn’t what actually reduces violent crime.

          What prevents the act of murder or attempted murder is locking the right motherfucker up. Retroactive investigation. That’s the key to controlling most ordinary violent crime. Not patrol. Not prevention. Punishment after the fact. That’s the only thing proven to work. This has been documented by law enforcement experts for generations now.

          Given that these mass killings are subject to the same diminishing returns in terms of the 911-apparatus — and given that the perpetrators don’t expect to stop with one or two targets, that they don’t care about avoiding punishment short of their own eventual suicide, either by their own hand or by police, and given that semiautomatic weaponry now will allow them to kill until they are brought down, the NRA suggestion that we can place enough cops in the places that matter is just shameless, ignorant horseshit. We would spend a treasure trying, and still these events would occur, and still, by the time one or two school police officers could respond, a classroom or two could be dead.

          The guns. The guns. The guns.

          Reply
          • kt says:

            Being that in this case, the killer apparently shot his way into the building without any prior warning, while wearing Kevlar, even having an armed guard at the entrance wouldn’t have helped. So let’s just station an army platoon and checkpoints outside of any school…or mall…or movie theater…

            In what fantasy world can some sharpshooter predict a mass murder before it happens and be at the ready to stop it with a single bullet? Has this EVER actually happened in reality? (I’m 100% certain not, b/c if it had we’d never hear the end of it from these loons.)

            Reply
          • DGN says:

            They’re also ignoring the fact that this doesn’t just happen at schools. The last one was at a movie theater. Are we going to put an armed guard at every movie theater too? It’s total deflection to suggest this is just about schools.

            Reply
      • magz says:

        I just read that (NRA) news today, oh boy….

        It’s a bit like the NR article — it’s so over-the-top ridiculous that it smacks more of The Onion or of an SNL skit. I think, though, that we may be witnessing a slow-but-collective shift in the American mindset regarding gun violence. Something about Sandy Hook feels like a game changer. Therefore, I have more confidence than usual that the recent NRA announcement–that schools need more guns– may reach the pinnacle of ludicrous needed for a true NRA backlash.

        One can hope.

        Reply
      • Aaron Mirenzi says:

        if gun owners want armed guards in every school, in lieu of gun restrictions, perhaps they should be the ones who pay for it with increased taxes for people who own fire arms.

        Here’s another idea I had. (maybe not an original one) I’m interested in people’s feedback on this. So I don’t have statistics on this, but I’m assuming that at least in the case of inner city violence, a lot of people use guns that they aren’t registered to use. What if when a gun is registered to you, you become (somewhat) responsible for whatever violence occurs using that gun independent of who uses the gun. Obviously if someone steals your gun and murders someone, the original owner shouldn’t be charged with murder. But they should be charged with something. There has to be some kind of negative consequence. Basically, if you bring a gun into society, its yours.

        Reply
    • Edward Copeland says:

      Of course, the NRA has put their most hard-line House GOP allies in an untenable position now. How can they possibly stand with them and defend all types of guns, ammunition and lack of regulation and also follow the NRA’s suggestion that the federal government appropriate money to provide armed security guards at every single school in the entire country, going against their goal of smaller government and cutting the budget to the bone without raising taxes.

      Reply
  25. kt says:

    Did the NRA seriously just call for Congress to place armed police in every school? My god. They have officially lost all touch with reality. These are madmen, and they control our government. God help us all.

    Reply
    • Edward Copeland says:

      The NRA lost touch with reality somewhere around the time when FDR or Truman was president.

      Reply
      • kt says:

        I hear you, I shouldn’t even be shocked at this point, but my jaw was on the floor. They would have been better off saying nothing than announcing that the answer is MORE GUNS + less Legend of Zelda.

        Perhaps it was naive to expect any reasonable concessions along the lines of closing the gun-show loophole or…anything?

        Reply
    • Kelly says:

      Yes, that actually happened. It was so surreal I thought maybe some drugs I took in the 90s came back to bite me. But no, it was the NRA Head Ghoul hand-to-God saying more guns are the answer.

      Mind blowing, isn’t it?

      Reply
  26. Rick Negus says:

    In reading Ms. Allen’s pathetic attempt at being intelligent I believe I have been able to identify one of the basic problems facing your country. Your are definitely not putting enough CHLORINE in your gene pool. We have increased our’s in Canada but unfortunately our current Glorious Leader managed to slip through.

    Seriously though, reading David’s writings and various comments confirms what I have known and believe that there are many many fine caring and loving people in your country and they need to unify and make their voice heard.

    Reply
  27. Kelly says:

    Charlotte Allen is a soulless asshole. I am so damn tired of these idiots contorting themselves in order to avoid blaming the actual problem, which is our fetishistic worship of and remarkably unfettered access to semi-automatic and automatic weapons. But hey, let’s blame women. Blame them for not being brave enough, bad mothers, not psychic, you name it.

    Those women at that school were braver than Charlotte Allen ever will be.

    “Every time that someone says “but guns are not the entire problem” an NRA lobbyist gets his wings.”

    I’m going to steal that. I’ll give credit, but I’ma put some miles on it.

    Reply
  28. Half Coyote says:

    I can’t believe she wrote what she wrote. Its a classic example where your ideology gets in the way of the truth and you start brain storming to get around you being completely wrong (we all have to guard against that).
    In this case she lays blame at the feet of female administrators, two of which gave their lives trying to stop the shooter, as well as 5th and 6th grade boys who did not gang up on the shooter. This is stupid because as the buzzfeed twitter guy and others have pointed out, there were no 5th and 6th graders at the school. Also, it is ridiculous because she is somehow expecting 10 and 11 year olds to do what most or even all adults can’t do, disarm a shooter with bare hands. It also means that you can no longer be considered a credible voice in a serious debate. In the time of holiday fairy tales, this one takes the cake.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Agree. Show me someone who is pure in their political or religous ideology and I will show you someone about to say or do something extraordinarily stupid.

      Reply
      • Anna Tarkov says:

        Unfortunately, as we all know, this is precisely the kind of ideological purity the far right wing of the GOP demands. And sadly a bunch of these people got elected to Congress.

        Reply
    • M J OHIO says:

      I give her credit. She has provided us with a concise summary of where the American right is today.

      The promotion of violence above common sense. The condescending remarks towards public employees. The complete avoidance of reality. It’s all there.

      Can’t wait to read her ideas on climate change. Maybe we should just declare war on the Sun.

      Reply
  29. Warren says:

    Not to take away from the gun policy debate, which it seems to me is decades overdue in your country, but here in Ontario, we’re now discussing a province wide “locked door policy,” which means elementary schools doors are locked while the kids are inside and anyone wanting to enter during that time would have to be let in by staff. Is that something that exists already in America? Does anyone think it could have helped in Newtown?

    And yeah, the NR piece is sicker than I could’ve imagined. Thanks so much for pointing it out though, David. The Zakaria piece helped it go down a little better at least. I wonder if maybe we should stop making humans as well as guns?

    Reply
    • Ted Smith says:

      Those policies are set by the individual school districts as of now, but most have similar procedures in place. If they didn’t before, they’re definitely drawing some up now. I’m pretty sure Sandy Creek had such a policy, but the shooter shot his way through a window anyway.

      Reply
  30. Jeff says:

    By Ms. Allen’s “logic,” the entire crew of the MAERSK ALABAMA must be complete pussies for disabling the vessel, alerting the authorities, and locking themselves in a safe room to avoid capture instead of engaging heavily-armed pirates with fire axes and pocket knives (not to mention numerous mop buckets).

    Reply
  31. Jason Marlow says:

    What happened to teacher’s being heralded for their compassion and self sacrifice? When did showing compassion and attempting to talk become weakness? That sounds pretty Christian to me. It is so egregious how these morph-masters can make any issue they want obstensibly about something entirely different. Is gun control the issue? No now its mental health and the feminization of our culture and schools. That piece by Ms. Allen is most assuredly the single most disgusting thing I’ve read in some time, Playboy interviews suffice for more worthwhile reading material than the dribble the National Review published.

    Reply
  32. magz says:

    This Farreed Zakaria article about the solution (notice, not pluralized) to gun violence is one of the best I’ve read thus far: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-the-solution-to-gun-violence-is-clear/2012/12/19/110a6f82-4a15-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html

    Reply
  33. Gonzai says:

    Oh, Allen was just getting warmed up with that article. One of Charles Pierce’s commenters called her out on CP’s blog, and Allen came back swinging. Repeatedly. With more factual errors. And the errors were the least egregrious thing she had to say.

    Apparently the NRO is in financial jeopardy due to a lawsuit. May the Plaintiff win and put NRO out of its misery.

    Reply
  34. obamney says:

    I stopped weeping after Columbine.

    Then I started reading American History.

    Everything that is happening today, happened in the past. We (the dominant culture) sweep our omnicidal impulses under the rug and move on without acknowledging the past much less atoning for it.

    David Simon still has the faith in our systems. He rails and tilts at windmills, even as he shows us how broken our systems are. I love him for that. But it won’t change a thing.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Brother, if you’re going to patronize me, you need to come with some stronger shit than that.

      And if you’ve been reading American history, you’ve been reading selectively. Mass killings such as the kind that are now becoming a monthly occurrence were far more extraordinary in our history because of the transformations in ballistics. That’s the amazing thing about this debate: Everyone wants to pontificate about society and mental health and ideological horseshit. No one wants to discuss mechanics.

      A handful of people died from a full volley fired by a British military unit in the Boston Massacre. Or on President Street in Baltimore at the commencement of the Civil War. Why? Because smooth-bore musketry was remarkably inaccurate even at closer ranges. Rifled weapons became predominant by 1864 and the resulting trench warfare was the result.

      But the transition from single-load rifles and revolvers to semiautomatic weaponry has been revolutionary. There is actually a technological transformation in the killing ability of the individual that makes your I-stopped-weeping and it’s-all-happened-before stance embarrassing. This hasn’t happened before. Not in our history. Not in these numbers. Not this often. Not from single assailants operating with a minimum of handheld weapons.

      In my professional life, I’ve actually lived through the moment when the Baltimore Police Department went from six-shot revolvers to 18-shot semiautos in a necessitated move to keep pace with the firepower on the street. The number of shots fired in the average assault, gunfight or police-involved shooting in my city was dramatically increased.

      To sneer at any attempt to assert our intellect or concern, or the responsibilities of good citizenship, over these developments isn’t insight. It’s intellectual and moral surrender. It’s the opposite of citizenship. It’s cynicism of a kind that is undeserving of anyone’s serious consideration or respect. What is eating you, brother? Is some libertarian ideology so all-consuming, is your hate for even the notion of collective governance so overpowering that you want to sit in the middle of the floor and fold your arms and tantrum away any chance at even fighting a good fight? I think I’ve written a great deal that suggests that my faith in our institutional dynamic is at an ebb. But none of that precludes participation in the struggle between better governance and worse governance. No governance? That’s really where you want to hole yourself up?

      That doesn’t make you a philosopher-king of liberty. Not by any means. It makes you seem, at best, juvenile in your approach to the needs of your society and your republic. It is simply selfishness wrapped in the robes of ideological justification.

      A law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of firearms with magazines of larger than ten bullets will save some — though certainly only some — lives. A law requiring thirty-day background checks and a licensing process that forwards falsified information to federal prosecutors for mandatory charges of fraud will save some — though only some — lives. Sound crazy? Shit, we have statutes that threaten thirty years in prison for falsifying a bank loan, though I’ve never seen a bank loan gun down twenty children at a time. A law that threatens felons, those under ex-parte orders for domestic violence and others deemed unfit for gun ownership with mandatory minimum sentences if caught with a firearm will save some — though only some — lives. A law that requires mental health professionals to report concerns about unstable and potentially violent patients to law enforcement — as they are required to report pedophilic proclivities to law enforcement — will save some, though only some, lives.

      We can try to act collectively and save some lives. Or, brother, we can sit back in our La-Zee-Boys in our favorite slippers and read some fucked-up version of American history that suggests that government had no role in making this country more functional and more utilitarian over the last couple centuries.

      If we embraced your stance, there would be no registration or mandatory insurance or licensing of autos and drivers. Why bother? Government is no answer. Nothing can be solved. People are gonna crash cars and die. So be it. Hope it’s not a school bus. Or anyone I care about.Or me. But regardless, I stopped weeping. Why rail and tilt at windmills?

      Christ, brother. Take a breath and read some of that tripe. It’s not merely that you’re becoming one note on this site, it’s that the one note is intellectually and morally empty.

      Does anyone want to discuss the actual mechanics of mass killing and how to respond as a society to that transformative reality? Or is an onanistic cirle-jerk of political ideology, psychobabble and blame-throwing political distraction simply more fun?

      Reply
      • Katie Ford Hall says:

        Mr, Simon,

        Your last paragraph is well taken: “Does anyone want to discuss the actual mechanics of mass killing and how to respond as a society to that transformative reality? Or is an onanistic cirle-jerk of political ideology, psychobabble and blame-throwing political distraction simply more fun?”

        But the other side of this is that guns are not the entire problem. There is something very, very wrong with us, as a whole. And we’re all responsible for solving it. I don’t mean that in a feel-good psychobabble way because I’d be the first person in line to vote for banning guns. I know I’m not surprising you by saying our systems are broken. Gun bans are an excellent first step, but we can’t stop there. I see this as a BOTH/AND, not an EITHER/OR.

        Katie

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Every time that someone says “but guns are not the entire problem” an NRA lobbyist gets his wings.

          It’s in the distraction from the actual mechanics of firearms and their unique place in American society that the status quo remains the status quo.

          There is violent imagery available on every media platform in the U.K., in Japan, in France, in Canada. There is mental illness at a comparable rate in those societies. The rates of assault are even comparable in those societies to that of our own. Get it? They’re about as crazy as we are. And they assault each other about as often. They’re just not armed to the teeth like we are. It’s the guns, the guns, the guns. Maybe not in terms of making us free of all murder and tragedy, but certainly in terms of bringing our murder and suicide and accidental-shooting death rates down to proportions comparable to other developed nations. For the love of god, we are five percent of the world population owning fifty percent of its privately-held guns. And three-quarters of all mass killings in the last quarter century have occurred on American soil.

          Do something about the substantive variable. Just try it. Watch our national rate of firearms death decline. Or, keep distracting yourself with global philosophizing on everything else. In which case, nothing will happen. Nothing.

          Reply
          • Katie Ford Hall says:

            Yeah, I get it. I totally agree. There is an immediate and lethal problem – if we get lost in the woods nothing will ever change. At the same time, our empire is crumbling and we need visionaries to help us create a better future. I don’t think that’s a pointless endeavor. You make a most valid point, though, and I hope you keep making it. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re doing something when all you’re doing is arguing with strangers online. Thanks for the gut check.

            Reply
          • magz says:

            Agreed that guns are the problem, and expecting our current government to rectify this situation is not realistic, not without tremendous public pressure. If we can agree on that, my question to you David is: what, specifically, should we be doing? How can we take action? How does one launch private citizen movement as effective as MADD? I’m asking because, as hackneyed as it sounds, I want to be part of the solution. I want to do more than talk. And I need help.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              The problem is that until the shooting stopped in Newtown, most Americans were, by all polling data, opposed to or indifferent to stricter gun control as a policy. This is simply true. Until a week ago, we were in a minority. Right now, because of Newtown and the fact that those massacred are six- and seven-year-old children, the polls have swung sharply.

              There is a window here in which government might be compelled to take some action. And indeed, you are seeing pro-gun Republicans and Democrats both suggest that there needs to be change. Hence the president’s call for a task force that will issue recommendations by the end of January, an extraordinarily short span of time for a presidential task force. Mr. Obama realizes that the window here is a brief one.

              Some change may be possible at this moment, legislatively. But there are other things that won’t happen, and I fear that the consensus for gun control that exists in current polling will fade. At that point, again, the majority will not support change — so your idea of grassroots activism can only have limited effect. At that point, we will require things to again get worse before they will get better. Meaning, another tragedy of similar scale and then, another window, for stricter measures to be seriously considered.

              That is the sad reality of this issue.

              Reply
              • Edward Copeland says:

                I oppose a truly radical idea. Since Rick Perry and many Texans have wanted to secede from the U.S., let’s go ahead and let them. Think of the savings. Withdraw all of our government services and military bases. Evict their congressional delegation. It’d be a huge cut in our national debt.

                Reply
              • magz says:

                David, I disagree with you. I’m going to go against my nature here and be optimistic. I believe change is possible. Look at what Candice Lightner (of MADD) was able to accomplish. I’m going to choose hope over despair on this one, and I’m going to do all that I can to effect change. I am, after all, talking about where I go to work each and every day. Teachers and children should not be fish in a barrel for shooting practice. Something is going to give (and I sure hope it isn’t my sanity!). Oh crap, now I’m tilting the windmills….

                Reply
      • M J OHIO says:

        There a few things I think that need to happen. First, the NRA needs ot be embarrassed and descredited to the point where they lose a significant number of their membership. The leadership of the NRA needs to be replaced with more reasonable people. The people runningt that organization now are absolutely an afflication on our society.

        Secondly, there needs to be some laws passsed on the federal level. Outlaw autmoatic and semi-automatic weapons. Outlaw the high capicity magaizines. Demand registration of all guns, complete with background checks for all guns. Registration should not be permanent, but should require renewal every 5 years or so.

        Shut down the gun shows completely. They can’t be trusted. Too many hucksters see that as an opportunity to unload their weapons to whoever has money and they also attract a lot of the worst elements of our culture – white supramicist groups, etc.. The gun shows are unnecessary and have proven to be an open mart for sale to gangs, cartels, whoever.

        That is my two cents.

        Reply
        • Edward Copeland says:

          I’ve always thought it would be good to play on the paranoia of the craziest NRA members and convince them that the NRA actually works as a double agent for the government so they have a list of who has the guns for when the time comes to take them. Dry up the NRA’s coffers that way.

          Reply
      • Jac Gruenwald says:

        David, I read somewhere once that human technology to kill has moved faster than our mental ability to know how to use it.

        When someone says our popular culture is the reason for these atrocities. They aren’t talking about the right culture. The problem with culture is the gun culture. This “culture” has been ingrained in our collective minds for 250 years or so. In Midwest kids are learning how to use guns by age 5 It’s a core believe for these folks. I live in community of about 7,000 people. Twice in the last year we had kids accidentally shoot & kill friends

        We need to have a boatload of gun reform. However, at least here in the Midwest, we need a shitload of education to fight to change the gun culture

        Reply
      • obamney says:

        Sir, I’ll try one more time and then I’ll go away, I promise. I wasn’t being snarky. I truly do love your work, that you engage, and that you’ve enlarged my vocabulary over the years.

        And I do agree that we need much, much better gun laws. Full stop.

        My badly made point is that there is still somewhere in the neighborhood of 270 to 300 HUNDRED MILLION guns out there. And technology continues apace…..some genius is currently working on a weapon that can be printed on a 3D printer. Drones are the size of hummingbirds. I hope some good can come out of the short window of opportunity we have here, I really do, but hope is all I have.

        We kill people at whatever level of technology we have, whether it’s small pox laced blankets or AR-14s. We built this country on genocide and slavery. That is some seriously bad juju. And if the genocide were over, and we acknowledged our past (like Germany has done), then there might be a reason to think we could move on. But we’ve never done that, and the genocide is not over. That is what is eating me, since you asked.

        I hated Ayn Rand’s books. She was a bad writer and a worse human being. While I’ll cop to being a flawed human being, I am not an idealogue in the sense that you are using it. I’d kinda like to see us organize our society under the precautionary principle, but that isn’t even within the realm of hope. I believe in collective action, I believe in being an informed and engaged citizen. I walked my first picket line at 10 years of age. I’ve indirectly caused the death of many trees with all of the letter writing I’ve done over the years. I’ll also cop to wanting to run away and hide, because when I look at the gulf between what this country could be and what it is, I do despair. But I haven’t done it yet.

        I wish you the best during this holiday season and for 2013.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          I wish you the best, too.

          “I’m very very afraid. Does my little handgun keep me safe? Oh hell no. But maybe I take one of them when they take me.”

          I guess I’m confused about what you are advocating. But I consider the notion that private ownership of firearms as a means of ensuring the republic to be farcical. The republic will not be lost because the government asserts by force of arms over the mass of Americans. It will be lost by the marginalization of the ballot, the moneying of our political system, and the apathy and indifference of good men to the costs and responsibilities of citizenship. I do not include the use of weaponry in those responsibilities.

          But I regard the libertarian and conservative notion that the government itself is some other that must be resisted and thwarted to be juvenile. The government must be us. If we believe in a republic, in a democracy, then alienation from the very idea of government is anathema. Can government be corrupted? Of course? Can it become anti-democratic? Surely. Can it violate our liberties? Can it fail to reflect the popular will? Of course. But the solution in all of those circumstances isn’t anything other than engagement with the government — and on terms more meaningful and mature than “taking one of them with me.”

          Is such engagement problematic, given the inertia of our national legislature, or the influence of capital on our electoral process, or gerrymandering, or any number of anti-democratic forces currently in play? Why, yes. But to mock anyone for attempting to argue for better governance and better outcomes by saying that they are tilting at windwills, while in a previous breath declaring for using your little handgun to exact some small act of violence as you make your own exit — well, I guess I’m not taking that combination at all seriously. Perhaps, I’ve misunderstood your stance.

          Reply
  35. Katie Ford Hall says:

    I can’t let this go… the more I sift through it, the more I want to cry/laugh at the same time. The only man there WAS THE ONE WHO KILLED EVERYONE.

    Sorry for the shouting…

    Katie

    Reply
  36. Amy S. says:

    Thank you–exactly what I would’ve said, had I been more articulate. Now would you please write a post saying what I want to say but can’t about Mike Huckabee’s inane statements?

    Reply
  37. Ted Smith says:

    The righteous battering she received (is receiving) in the comments almost makes the essay worth it. If there’s an ember of hope in the piece, it’s right there in the mass of (surprisingly literate) outrage people felt compelled to share in its wake. I actually feel pretty good now.

    Reply
  38. Katie Ford Hall says:

    Of course we’ll find a way to blame women for this! I’ve also read people blame his mother (OF COURSE) who had likely made the shooter a lifetime incest victim.

    Yesterday I saw a headline on USA Today about a spike in sales for bulletproof backpacks.

    I am mystified that so many propose that we radically change our notion of schools, from a place of learning into an always-on-edge twitchy armed encampment, rather than entertaining the far-less-radical notion of limiting access to the weapons of mass destruction.

    Oh, this burns me up. What a dishonor to people like the Ms. Soto, who safely hid the kids and lost her life. I guess if she were a real man, she would have prevented any further killing??

    How about maybe if we gave teachers the respect and pay they deserve and thought of education as an important and worthwhile profession? How about we stop thinking of teachers as lazy moochers who just want the lavish government benefits?

    Maybe if teaching had the appropriate gravitas for the “big boys” like corporate finance, some of Allen’s manly men would blow into town like tumbleweeds in the Old West. Of fly in from Krypton. Then again, maybe that’s the same type of delusional thinking that helps to create these mass murderers in the first place. NO! That’s just another girly lie!! My poor son, having to be raised by a damsel like me, encouraging him to think and feel rather than to be looking to kill the bogeyman who waits around every corner. I think I’ll turn him over to the National Review to be raised right.

    I think people are seriously confused about reality vs. Quentin Tarantino movies.

    Thanks for giving me a headache so early in the morning!!

    Katie

    Reply
  39. magz says:

    One more thought of note, and it is not mine. It’s Gandhi’s: “(t)o call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”

    Reply
  40. magz says:

    I’ve posted before — I’m a teacher and a professor. This line from the article is the one that truly got me: “(b)ut in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm.” To think that a woman wrote that makes me pity her as it borders on self gender-loathing.

    David, I admire you. I’m a fan of your work. You write persuasively and loftily. You’ve proven your passion and soul. But I can’t help but feel you are ferociously tilting at windmills when you could actually be doing so much more. Situations like these call for leaders and, unfortunately, you’ve got far more street cred then the rest of us. You’re known, you’re moneyed, and your work with The Wire connects you to making people view what everyone wants to ignore — the violence and wretched inequity found in our inner cities. People like you need to DO more than write. You have the resources to organize and energize. It takes more than a pen (or in this case, a keyboard). I’m assuming this site gives you access to our email addresses — if you ever need a foot-soldier (a gunless one) in your home state of MD, I would work tirelessly to organize a grassroots movement to help change the way people think about guns and to form a force that even the NRA would fear. I’d do it for free if you provided the launching pad. We must work as citizens (not through our maimed Congress). just as those who formed MADD did Please read: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/opinion/nocera-lets-get-madd-about-guns.html?_r=1&amp; This is respectfully submitted. How can we, collectively, be part of the change? As my great uncle would say, “Quit your bitchin’ and get movin’.

    Reply
  41. Tracy Dailey says:

    Are you sure that isn’t satire? How can it be serious???

    Reply
  42. Brian in Sacramento says:

    Well, I am at least somewhat relieved that a quick survey of the comments section at NRO (as of 3:27 AM Pacific Standard Time) reveals a considerable amount of disgust directed at Allen’s god-awful piece.

    The first part of gpowell1066’s comment reads as follows:

    “Is this The Onion or NRO? I can’t tell.”

    Reply
  43. Chris Schumerth says:

    I’m all for making machine guns illegal to own, but you know, the NR piece aside, I would think someone as thoughtful as you could see that there’s a much deeper, more complex problem than the guns. If we think about your own show, it’d be like we just decided, you know, if we just got the guns out of Baltimore, problem solved. Never mind the drugs, the addictions, the poverty, the broken families, the rivalries, the political corruption, the failing education system, etc. What is leading so many men to the despair of wanting to kill others and themselves? There isn’t an easy answer, but it’s still the question worth asking, and the answer definitely isn’t gun access. And let’s not pretend that killing in large numbers is impossible without a gun. I suspect there is a much larger problem(s) with this society we’ve created.

    Reply
    • Ted Smith says:

      David’s a big boy and can defend himself, but I think it’s worth noting that I didn’t read any argument in his post reducing the darkness lurking in human hearts to the existence of guns. As you say, this is the creator of The Wire we’re talking about here; for you to both note that and charge him with a lack of thoughtfulness strikes me as pretty silly. He didn’t get comprehensive in these two blog posts, but I don’t think they’re intended to sum up his thoughts regarding Violence in America. This most recent one is to point out how astonishingly retrograde is a piece published on the National Review Online regarding Newtown, riddled as it is with antimodern notions regarding gender and strength, and how jarringly, appallingly tone-deaf it is in the midst of period of national grief.

      Reply
      • magz says:

        Ted, with all due respect, if you’re accusing me of finding David Simon lacking in thoughtfulness, either I didn’t communicate clearly enough or you misunderstood me. I find the exact opposite to be true. My point is that I’m desperate for a movement, something we can all get behind and push to make real change. As I mentioned, I am a classroom teacher. Twice, I’ve had students arrive at school armed. School violence is not an abstract reality for me. I find it horrendously, can’t-sleep-at-night upsetting. While the pen may be mightier than the sword, it can’t beat assault riffles. I’m looking for help, Ted. I really am.

        Reply
        • Ted Smith says:

          Mag- sorry, things may have gotten mixed up somehow. I was responding to “Chris Schumerth”, not you. For what it’s worth, I’m a classroom teacher, too, and a few years ago, a man was shot and killed a hundred yards from where I was waiting with 60 or so elementary kids for a bus to go on a field trip. Violence was so normal in this neighborhood that we had no need for counseling services; we went to the museum anyway. I’ve been up nights, too (albeit less often since I changed districts). You’re not alone.

          Reply
    • magz says:

      “And let’s not pretend that killing in large numbers is impossible without a gun.”

      Let’s not be so naive to believe that killing with assault rifles isn’t far more effective then other weapons. It’s hard not to compare the CT massacre to a similar and recent attack in a Chinese elementary school in which a mentally unstable man brutally attacked 23 young students with a knife. Brutal, yes. Horrible, yes. Deadly? No. All 23 students survived. ALL. We are now at 31+ fatal school shootings. How many more do we need for people to be convinced?

      Reply
    • Jesse M says:

      You obviously didn’t read the Fareed Zakaria article posted in the very first comment, above.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-the-solution-to-gun-violence-is-clear/2012/12/19/110a6f82-4a15-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html

      Let’s not get distracted here. Our obstacle isn’t lack of information… it’s lack of political will.

      Reply
  44. derek says:

    God doesn’t exist. Just a thought.

    Reply
  45. Doctor Memory says:

    The standard apologetic line about National Review Online is that Kathryn Jean Lopez (NRO’s editor) is shaming the legacy of William F Buckley with her non-stop clown show, and that one day Rich Lowry (NR print editor) will wake up and clean house.

    This is, of course, nonsense: the cossacks work for the czar. Buckley was an evil, racist hack who’s alleged redeeming moment was comprised primarily of patting himself on the back for being the last man on earth to realize that Robert W. Welch was insane. Lowry, Lopez and dear confused Charlotte Allen are his undisputed heirs. Ladies and gentlemen: your modern “respectable” conservative movement.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      I did not agree with Buckley often, but I found his arguments compelling on many occasions. And there were moments — his early condemnation of the drug war comes to mind — where he broke real ground and deserves credit.

      And I’ve been slack-jawed at some of the stuff in the Review in these late years, to be sure.

      But this essay is just Herculean. In more enlightened times, a mob would form and torch the magazine offices while holding hands and singing hymns.

      Reply
  46. Tom Cleaver says:

    Someone is actually surprised that far right asswipes are indeed far right asswipes? Like my great-grand-uncle who worked for Harry Truman from being his First Sergeant in the Battle of the Argonne in 1918 to the day he left the White House in January 1953, taught me at an early age: “the only ‘good Republicans’ are pushing up daisies.”

    These people prove that there are indeed two species of hairless biped on the planet: Homo Sapiens (us) and Homo Sap (them). You just have to know, as my wife was saying this morning, “their ignorance is as bottomless as their shamelessness.” The good news is, these otherwise-unemployables at least aren’t on the public dole, which they’d be if they lost their jobs as uncreative typists.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      There are meaningful arguments to undertake with gun-rights advocates. And those arguments can be pursued without ad hominem. This just doesn’t happen to be one of those.

      Reply
  47. dbray says:

    there’s a few articles at the linked site … not sure which one you are refering to… but it doesn’t really matter that much to me… it’s all hyperbole at the moment… no one seems sure what actually happened… or at least, there are some rather wild articles pointing to some questions that certainly need to be addressed. This guy http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/ has a few links in the article that are also worth a look, if you’re interested. Personally, I’m burned out on this particular incident. Yes that not only sounds callous, it IS callous… I could even point to the callouses in my psych if you were somehow able to see them. A few americans kids die… all hell breaks loose in the media for a while. Constant thousands of children are killed by the USA ‘war’ machine (mobile slaughter unit would be a better description) to feed the bottom line of ‘multinational’ ( a moniker coined to direct the subconscious away from American $… it’s ‘international $’ … bullshit it is) and the Americans that even notice what is being done in their name, yawn… ‘oh look… this new sit-com is SOOO funny’ .

    Reply
  48. Edward Copeland says:

    That Daily Beast writer who suggested drilling the kids to rush the gunman like the passengers on United 93 was another insipid idea. You can’t talk sense to a lot of these people though one did light up at my suggestion: mandate school uniforms made out of Kevlar. As I said before quoting Mark Shields, stupidity is not a victimless crime.

    Reply
  49. Goran Duk says:

    It’s ironic that the very attitude of these sorts of articles (“if only we had more REAL men and more guns, then we wouldn’t have all these gun violence problems”) is the very reason so many people use guns as tools of power.

    It’s our aggressive culture that’s the problem. It’s the way we see “making a difference” as so important that it’s better to kill a bunch of innocent children than to be unknown. But of course American culture isn’t going to change overnight, and it only seems to be moving more toward that 1980s greed is good culture, so then availability to guns does need to be a big part of the conversation. Anyone who isn’t willing to want to talk about that without screaming “SECOND AMENDMENT” is part of the problem. I’ll be the first to admit that Switzerland is full of guns, and they don’t have our gun violence problems. Then again they don’t worship the gun as some sort of sign of manliness and power, it’s just a tool and not really that sexy.

    I don’t know why, but I’m constantly reminded of 1987’s RoboCop when I read people debating about guns. To me no satire has captured the American spirit better than that film, and it’s still all so perfectly relevant to our overly aggressive culture. When we talk about guns in America we’re pretty much talking about masculinity. I think it’s getting worse because the odds are stacked against the average American more now than they have been before in the past, and rather than admit that we’re losing power and the way to get it back is gonna be emotionally hard and require detailed work we’d prefer to beat our chests.

    I could be wrong on this, of course. But in my own life I know I often feel most angry and physically aggressive when I feel like I’m completely powerless in a situation.

    Reply

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