Saturday, July 21, 2012

- Preventing Future Mass Killings

While I'm sympathetic to those who would wish to wave a magic wand to prevent tragedies like the one in Aurora Colorado, we all know that no such magic wand exists. I wish it did. I wish it were possible to simply pass a law and with its passing, prevent all future meaningless acts of violence - or all violence for that matter. If only such a thing were possible, I'd happily support it.

But since that isn't possible, we must tragically content ourselves to deal with what is. If we are to draft our laws based exclusively on what we wish for, then we intentionally consign ourselves to cope with the unintended consequences of poorly designed law. Past experience dictates that instead of doing so, it might actually be better to do nothing at all. But what we should really do is focus on the goals of the policy rather than the intent. And the only way to do that effectively, is to take into account both the benefits and costs of anything we consider. Anything else and we likely do ourselves more harm than good.

If it really would save lives and prevent all violence, then no one would be against the banning of all civilian firearm ownership. Regrettably, that isn't the case. Banning guns doesn't prevent violence, it only disarms the victims and empowers those who are still willing to flout the law. In microcosm, the theater in Aurora where the shooting occurred had a strict 'no firearms' policy. It was a 'gun free zone' as these shooting so often turn out to be. The victims of the shooting all obeyed the law and were unable to defend themselves while James Holmes, intent on murder, was totally unrestrained by it. Similarly, Chicago's strict gun control laws have done nothing to stem the constant flow of civilian blood in shooting after shooting after shooting.

Some are proposing the re-imposition of the Clinton era 'assault weapons' ban, but this is another red herring. Guns which operate identically to the one the shooter used could have been purchased legally under the Clinton era ban - as they are now in NJ, NY, CT and California where state bans are still in place. What's more, even an outright total ban of all guns, wouldn't have stopped this particular killing, which could have been accomplished with Gasoline and a match. The point is that if history has shown us anything, it's that someone intent on murder will always be able to find a way. The only question is, how easy do we intend to make it for them?

If we are going to pass a law which will restrict the rights of 300 million innocent and law abiding Americans, we shouldn't do it haphazardly. At the very least we should be certain that the law will achieve its desired effect. But no gun ban has even been shown to do so. On the contrary, by disarming only those who are willing to obey the law it has often had an opposite effect. Mandatory registration, background checks, psychological profiles and all the other laws which the left wants to pass, would also only effect the innocent and law abiding. Those intent on crime will not register their guns, and those that sell to them will do no background checks from the trunk of their car. These are all laws which punish the wrong people by design.

By all indications so far made public, none of those proposals would have done anything to prevent the Aurora shooting. So the cost to the innocent public would have been very high, and the benefit to the citizens of Aurora would be none whatsoever. That's the real tragedy of laws designed like these. It's simply a reality that passing additional restrictions on the innocent rarely restricts those intent on lawlessness - however much it might make us all feel better to pass such laws.

It's easy to craft policy that's really only designed to sooth our fears or our outrage, or our sense of self satisfaction. But that isn't how effective law is made. An effective law is one which accomplishes the goal it sets out to accomplish at a minimum cost, inconvenience, and reduction in liberty to innocent citizens. That is the world we live in. And it would add deep insult to an already significant injury to pursue the political goal of punishing the innocent, in a vain attempt to eliminate the guilty.

If the left has proposals which they believe are likely to achieve the goal of reducing public violence, I for one would be very interested in hearing them. But since all their past ideas regarding 'gun control' have all failed to accomplish what they set out to, I think it's time for them to begin thinking about new ideas. Punishing the innocent with restrictions has been tried and has failed... so it's time for them to consider something different that at least stands a remote chance of success.


frithguild said...

Square one should be the total elimination of the dystopia inducing thought that a law should ever make anybody feel better. Behind every law stands a sad failure.

Chess said...

From everything said so far I am not sure a regular conceal and carry weapon would have done much good except for one between the eyes. Full body armor.Wow.Helmet. full torso and leg armor. This dude for being so ready to kill and then gives up with a wimper in the parking lot???

Tom you guys would know better than me what you would have to do to bring him down? I mean if someone is this protected other than a clean head shot or top of a dam foot what?

Tom said...

Getting shot at close range in body armor is about as comfortable an experience as being hit with a ball peen hammer without it. IT would certainly slow him down. Besides, body armor is not a 100% solution.

If the crowd began shooting back he would have probably been hiding behind something instead of shooting innocents. 12 dead turns to 2 dead, or none - instead of disarming everyone which has the opposite effect.

chess said...

True....And I believe he now has a beard like the youtube but not the other photo..
.I mean does he stay alive to get press coverage or he wants his story told ? Twisted..
Gonna be another week of 105s here.. Im waitin for the heat to start getting people a little antsy.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, earlier this year, there was a shooting in a church in Aurora. The killer shot and killed one person, an offduty officer with his weapon shot and killed the shooter. Had he not been there, who knows how many more people might've been shot. Though the news plays it up that he may have only been after the person he shot. (His mother.) I have my doubts--his gun jammed, how could he KNOW she'd be the first one to run out, etc.

Anonymous said...

Should be: "...shot and killed one person. An off-duty officer with his..."

Grammar saves lives:
"Let's eat, Grandma!"
"Let's eat Grandma!"

Matt H said...

About that body armor. I'm not convinced it negates the value of armed resistance. In this case, the murderer surrendered to police without a fight when confronted. I don't think this guy wore body armor in order to be unstoppable; I think he wore it out of an aversion to getting hurt. Same reason he picked a place with a no guns policy. He's a coward.

On the other hand, I'm surprised some no guns signs dissuaded everyone from carrying. Except at work, I carry concealed, and I make a point of not noticing private property owners' signs on that topic. Activists tell the managers no guns=no money; my policy is don't ask/don't tell. Where I live, such signs don't directly carry the force of law. Worst case scenario is a trespassing charge. If my guess is right, why didn't anybody shoot back? Movie theaters are dark and noisy under normal circumstances. Add smoke or tear gas, plus panicky crowds, and shooting back might have simply been infeasible. Concealed carry might help with most multiple victim public shootings, but not this one.

Tom said...

Lots of assumptions in your scenario MAtt - what do you say we wait for the facts to come in before forming any further conclusions?

It will be like the OJ killing before it's over with animations and everything, so we'll get a good idea of what might or might not have helped.

Matt H said...

Hmm...looks like at least one of my assumptions is getting overtaken by a revalation: from WaPo "There also emerged a new twist in the narrative that indicates that the alleged shooter, identified by authorities as James Holmes, 24, did not immediately surrender to police and could have come close to eluding capture by slipping away in the guise of a SWAT team officer."