Friday, December 21, 2012

Interesting Columbine Fact + Anti-Firearm Nonsense From Daily Kos

Link

Interesting fact: there was an armed guard at Columbine, who got off four shots at very long range (for a handgun) at one of the murderers, but didn't hit him.

Of course Daily Kos isn't a serious site, especially not for a discussion of firearms, but it is relevant than an armed deputy was on scene. Sadly, it takes the freaking National Review to point out the obvious, that there's a good chance that the deputy mitigated the damage done by the killers.

The DK post goes on to falsely proclaim the following:
People with concealed carry permits may be able to arm themselves against other people with concealed weapons. They will not be able to stop a Sandy Hook or Columbine or Aurora style gunman with a rifle and body armor (none at Columbine, yes at the others).
But, of course, the failure to stop the killers immediately--as opposed to altering their plans and shortening their killing spree--in one case does no such thing as prove that someone with a standard sidearm can't stop a mass murderer, nor that every would-be mass murderer from here on out will be armed with an AR-15 and armored with Kevlar. This is just wishful thinking on the part of anti-firearm lefties. (And funny what counts as wishful here...). What a concealed firearm would do in such a situation would be the only thing that any safety measure can ever do: shift the odds in the right direction.

Here are the facts:
If you are caught in a situation like this one with a well-armed person intent on mass murder, you are largely f*cked. On average, if you have a sidearm then you are somewhat less f*cked than if you were completely unarmed. If the assailant is wearing body armor, then you are in much bigger trouble than if he is not. However, if you engage him at, say, 15 yards (rather than 60), you're on much more equal footing, and the difference in firepower is somewhat evened out.

As I've said before, the two irrational ends of the gun control debate are each afflicted by dangerous, idiotic fantasies. The right is afflicted by the fantasy that enough people might actually carry concealed weapons to really, significantly lower the odds of such mass murders happening, and also by fantasies in which having a sidearm matters a lot if someone surprises you in line at Starbucks. The left is afflicted by what is, if anything, an even more irrational fantasy, the fantasy that guns are incredibly effective in the hands of bad guys, but so ineffective in the hands of law-abiding private citizens that they do nothing to shift the odds in their favor in such cases. In fact, much of what is said on the left entails that, even if you are cornered by a mass murderer and find a firearm, you should throw it away because using it will simply increase the odds of harm to yourself and others--except for the bad guys, of course, who are inexplicably immune to slugs even when unarmored.

It's too bad that we have to wade through such nonsense to have a sensible debate about this topic.

16 Comments:

Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Winston, you haven't heard about what happened in NYC with 'trained" NYC police against one armed man?:

NEW YORK — The police shooting near the Empire State Building last week is a testament to how quickly officers can fire off 16 rounds to take down an armed suspect.

But the nine wounded bystanders attest to another truth: Officers often miss.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly reiterated Monday that officials believe that two patrolmen followed proper police protocol once Jeffrey Johnson pulled a pistol on them moments after he ambushed a former co-worker – an assessment supported by experts on police policy and training.

"When you're told that someone just killed someone around the corner, and five seconds later that person identified as the shooter points the gun at you ... it was the appropriate action to take," Kelly said at an unrelated press event in midtown Manhattan.

Dramatic security video of the Friday morning confrontation shows Johnson pointing the weapon at the officers, other pedestrians scattering and the two officers firing – one from very close range, the other while retreating.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/27/ray-kelly-nypd-gunfire-appropriate-empire-state-building-shooting_n_1834238.html

Nobody knows what they're going to do when the bullets are flying unless they've been in a similar, real life situation(meatspace, as the kids say these days), and sometimes, not even then.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

DA,

Nothing in this story surprises me in the least.

Do you think anything there is inconsistent with anything I wrote?

10:49 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

The left is afflicted by what is, if anything, an even more irrational fantasy, the fantasy that guns are incredibly effective in the hands of bad guys, but so ineffective in the hands of law-abiding private citizens that they do nothing to shift the odds in their favor in such cases.

Oh, they shifted the odds in the case of the shooter I referenced, but the 'collateral damage' with trained professionals involved doesn't bode well for the notion that private non-LEO citizens could respond to a shooter any better, and lends credence to the notion that any response in real-life would be, in fact, probably a lot worse.

Here's what someone who actually looked at more than the Columbine shootings(unlike the GOS and NRO.com) has to say about the subject:

“It’s kind of fantasy thinking to assume that armed citizens are going to take out the bad guy and that nothing will go wrong,” Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told me last week for a separate article on why the answer to gun violence is not more guns.

http://www.salon.com/2012/12/21/why_the_nras_plan_wont_work/

12:05 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

DA,

A few points:

1. You do realize that the NYPD is notoriously trigger-happy, right? The proof of that conclusion seems pretty secure... So I'm not sure how good a gauge that is.

2. And you do realize that private citizens have *already* stopped such shootings, without causing the carnage you're envisioning?

3. Which shows that Mr. Webster is not right.

4. And, worse, he's prejudicing the question by the way he sets it up. Did anyone, anywhere, ever say or think that nothing would ever go wrong in a confrontation between a private citizen and a mass murdering gunman?

I think you're accepting half of my proposition--that the right is subject to crazy pro-gun fantasies... But you're denying the other half, that the left is subject to it's own crazy anti-gun fantasies.

Am I reading that right?

2:22 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

You do realize that the NYPD is notoriously trigger-happy, right? The proof of that conclusion seems pretty secure... So I'm not sure how good a gauge that is.

So are the LA cops, and lots of cops around the country.

Put it this way, is there a police force outside of the Barney Fife kind(few officers, rural setting) that isn't trigger happy?

And you do realize that private citizens have *already* stopped such shootings, without causing the carnage you're envisioning?

Then why did the academic who studies the issue at Johns Hopkins U say what he said? Is he unaware of the examples you're talking about?


4. And, worse, he's prejudicing the question by the way he sets it up. Did anyone, anywhere, ever say or think that nothing would ever go wrong in a confrontation between a private citizen and a mass murdering gunman?

That's the way the folks at the NRA and on the right would like us to believe.

You're better than this as a thinker Winston, especially since the rest of the industrialized world has a rate far lower than ours for firearm deaths per capita, and in no cases can it be attributed to the fact that they have more armed civilians ready to stop such shootings when they occur.

Do you think the head of the NRA is correct when he says that armed guards are needed at each and every school in our country?

3:08 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

DA,

I'm more than a little baffled that most of the time we don't seem to be addressing anything like the same points.

Maybe let's start with the last point and work backwards?

You ask: do I think there should be an armed guard in every school?

My answer: I never actually thought about it. It seems so much like a non-option that the proposal passed by me without garnering more than about thirty seconds' consideration...as do most of the NRA's policy proposals. I guess I figured it was too expensive to even be seriously on the table.

Now my question for you:

Where in anything I have written did I say or in any way suggest that I supported that suggestion?

Because it would be really, really surprising to me if I had, given that I haven't even seriously considered it.

We can go through those other points, too...but I'm wondering whether we might be too far apart on this to have a fruitful discussion.

Peace, dude.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Winston, you prefer several anecdotal examples to the facts about guns and what happens to the civilians that use them.

It would be impractical – not to say unethical – to randomly assign volunteers to carry a gun or not and see what happens. So Charles Branas's team at the University of Pennsylvania analysed 677 shootings over two-and-a-half years to discover whether victims were carrying at the time, and compared them to other Philly residents of similar age, sex and ethnicity. The team also accounted for other potentially confounding differences, such as the socioeconomic status of their neighbourhood.

Despite the US having the highest rate of firearms-related homicide in the industrialised world, the relationship between gun culture and violence is poorly understood. A recent study found that treating violence like an infectious disease led to a dramatic fall in shootings and killings.

Overall, Branas's study found that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens. When the team looked at shootings in which victims had a chance to defend themselves, their odds of getting shot were even higher.

While it may be that the type of people who carry firearms are simply more likely to get shot, it may be that guns give a sense of empowerment that causes carriers to overreact in tense situations, or encourages them to visit neighbourhoods they probably shouldn't, Branas speculates. Supporters of the Second Amendment shouldn't worry that the right to bear arms is under threat, however. "We don't have an answer as to whether guns are protective or perilous," Branas says. "This study is a beginning."

Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore, Maryland, thinks it is near-sighted to consider only the safety of gun owners and not their communities. "It affects others a heck of a lot more," he says.


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17922-carrying-a-gun-increases-risk-of-getting-shot-and-killed.html

8:51 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Wow.

That study is really, really not good.

What am I missing here?

10:24 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

If you have a specific criticism about their study, about the data or how it was analyzed, that would be useful.

I'm going to consider your last post as "unresponsive".

2:01 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

DA,

1.
Sorry, I was kinda trying to just elicit recognition in you that the study was crap without pontificating about it.

In fact, the study is laughable *if* it is intended to provide us evidence about the use of handguns by law-abiding citizens, and unless I'm missing something here.

Well, perhaps we should start with: Am I missing something?

As I read it, this is a study that fails to distinguish those who carry handguns legally from those who do not. Is that correct? And the linked article seems to acknowledge that the study fails to control for antecedent likelihood of being shot.

I mean, it certainly wouldn't be surprising if a criminal who carries a firearm is more likely to engage in gun play than one who doesn't, and, so, more likely to get shot.

But what on earth does this tell us about those with CCWs? Especially when we do control for antecedent likelihood of being shot?

To draw a conclusion about an unusually law-abiding group from data largely about a highly criminal group would be ludicrous.

2.
I'm tempted to make a s(n)ide comment here about the pernicious medicalization of everything... But perhaps the topic of medical mission creep would be better left until a different time.

3.
And, in some sense most importantly:

Let me point out that none of this has very much to do with anything I wrote in the post.

I did not advocate increased concealed-carry, in fact, I noted that it's part of the right-wing fantasy that this is a reasonable solution.

You seem to be trying to attribute to me every pro-gun position on the planet, when the only even vaguely pro-firearm point I made above was this one: it is simply false that citizens are better off being unarmed against a mass murderer. That's the left-wing fantasy in this vicinity.

Can we maybe refine our disagreement to some extent?

3:28 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Sorry, I was kinda trying to just elicit recognition in you that the study was crap without pontificating about it.

In fact, the study is laughable *if* it is intended to provide us evidence about the use of handguns by law-abiding citizens, and unless I'm missing something here.



I would think that most of the people in the study were 'law-abiding' citizens, for starters, unless you have any evidence to the contrary.

To draw a conclusion about an unusually law-abiding group from data largely about a highly criminal group would be ludicrous.

You really think that the judgement of the 'criminal class' is inferior to those who are law-abiding?

According to the study, 6% of shooting victims in Philly were carrying at the time of their assault.

Penn researchers investigated the link between being shot in an assault and a person’s possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. As identified by police and medical examiners, they randomly selected 677 cases of Philadelphia residents who were shot in an assault from 2003 to 2006. Six percent of these cases were in possession of a gun (such as in a holster, pocket, waistband, or vehicle) when they were shot.

These shooting cases were matched to Philadelphia residents who acted as the study’s controls. To identify the controls, trained phone canvassers called random Philadelphians soon after a reported shooting and asked about their possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. These random Philadelphians had not been shot and had nothing to do with the shooting. This is the same approach that epidemiologists have historically used to establish links between such things as smoking and lung cancer or drinking and car crashes.


2.
I'm tempted to make a s(n)ide comment here about the pernicious medicalization of everything... But perhaps the topic of medical mission creep would be better left until a different time


You don't have to worry about that, the CDC isn't allowed to study gun violence:

In the 1990s, politicians backed by the NRA attacked researchers for publishing data on firearm research. For good measure, they also went after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding the research. According to the NRA, such science is not “legitimate.” To make sure federal agencies got the message, Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) sponsored an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, the exact amount it had spent on firearms research the previous year.

But last summer, Dickey recanted. No longer in office, he wrote an editorial stating that “scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners.”


it is simply false that citizens are better off being unarmed against a mass murderer. That's the left-wing fantasy in this vicinity

Actually, that's not what they're saying.

People with concealed carry permits may be able to arm themselves against other people with concealed weapons. They will not be able to stop a Sandy Hook or Columbine or Aurora style gunman with a rifle and body armor (none at Columbine, yes at the others).

That's not what they're arguing, Winston. I'm surprised that I had to spell it out for you.

How you drew the conclusion you did from the content of the GOS post is beyond me.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Wow, DA. I'm baffled. So, I make an argument, you introduce a (terrible) study that is irrelevant to my argument, I point out that it is (terrible and) irrelevant, and restate my point...whereupon you write that my point is irrelevant to the study... Yes, indeed it is! My point and the study are mutually irrelevant. Ergo that study--godawful and tempting target though it is--should be addressed at a different time, if at all.

Again, the point that you seem to be disagreeing with: if one is caught, as victim/potential target of a mass shooting of the type under discussion--e.g. A VA Tech-type shooting--then one is, on average, better off being armed than unarmed.

Surely you don't disagree with that?

9:26 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

I think that looking to armed civilians to be a line of defense against an armed shooter(who, as the GOS noted, will probably be wearing body armor as have recent shooters) is naive at best, and stupid at worse.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

1. Still not relevant to my point.

2. Incidentally, though, false and dangerous. Each individual has a right and an obligation to be his own last line of defense.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

C'mon, Winston, you attributed a POV to the GOS post what wasn't there, as I demonstrated by my excerpt from said post.

Claiming that some ghost lefties somewhere claim that not being armed entirely is safer than having armed civilians around in such circumstances(I mean, you couldn't even find someone expounding that view at Democratic Underground?) is worthy of a Free Republic post, but nothing above that.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I've got to admit, I'm really confused now, DA.

Are we then agreeing that a handgun in the hands of one of the intended victims *will* typically shift the odds in favor of the good guys?

8:01 AM  

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