In mass shootings, it’s all about the efficiency

The latest mass shooting in Connecticut follows in a long and despair-provoking line of murder-sprees that stretches from Columbine to Virginia Tech to the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, with many nightmarish detours along the way.

As we begin to process this latest event, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not human nature that has changed.

People in America have been committing despicable atrocities from the moment Europeans touched toe on Plymouth Rock.

What’s different is efficiency.

When the Founding Fathers were talking about the 2nd Amendment — stipulating that the the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed — a highly trained soldier could fire three rounds per minute.

These days, it’s an entirely different world.

Average citizens are able to purchase firearms that put many of the combat weapons used by the Greatest Generation during World War II to shame.  These guns fire faster, with larger magazines and more destructive rounds.

The translation is simple:  Scientists and engineers have produced new generations of extraordinarily well designed machines, which have the single function of killing other people, with fluid ease and simplicity.

Under our Constitutional rules, created during the age of the Minuteman, those machines are cheap and widely available.

Defenders of the status quo stand on what they view as principle.

Whatever the dangers and moral quandaries posed by these ubiquity of machines designed solely for the purpose of killing other humans, they view unfettered gun ownership as a fundamental American right.

I’m guessing that this principle will come under increasingly ferocious scrutiny, as the death toll mounts.

If nothing else, it seems reasonable to discuss whether the firearms sold in the US might not be designed intentionally to be less efficient.  Why not ban large clips for everyone except law enforcement?

Why not design clip and cartridge mechanisms so that they require a significant amount of time to reload?

It’s hard to imagine that a person defending their home in good faith needs more than five or six bullets, or the ability to discharge hundreds of rounds per minute.

The bottom line is that we regulate dangerous machines in many ways in our country, requiring that they be designed for public safety as well as efficiency and utility.

Those modern rules prevent many of the deadly horrors that once plagued our society, from factory fires in locked work areas to mass poisonings caused by contaminated food.

Regulating firearms in a coherent and logical way might accomplish much the same.  In the wake of the latest carnage, it’s time to have that conversation.

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325 Comments on “In mass shootings, it’s all about the efficiency”

  1. The Original Larry says:

    Have some compassion before you turn this into a political debate.

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  2. Brian Mann says:

    Larry – In a democracy, politics is one of the tools we use to talk about hard and painful issues. Silence isn’t compassion.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  3. Paul says:

    Later guys later.

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  4. mervel says:

    I would disagree with your very first sentence. We have to look at our culture of death, domestic violence, almost a fetish obsession with mass murder (video games, dexter, and on and on and yes we have to look at guns, but I don’t know I think you are reducing a very fluid family situation into a political debate. Sometimes indeed horrible things happen there is not always a reason or an answer or a way to prevent it.

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  5. mervel says:

    This is an ok discussion but probably in a couple of weeks.

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  6. The Original Larry says:

    Silence today would be respectful.

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  7. Marlo Stanfield says:

    When’s the appropriate time to talk about gun control? Dozens of people get shot every day in this country. Whenever someone tries to talk about the lessons that maybe could be learned from tragedies like this, people on the anti-gun control side try to shut it down with “too soon.” Then they end up opposing any of the changes that might make these kind of mass shootings less likely. It’s a cop-out.

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  8. I agree with Larry… which is pretty rare. This sort of debate is highly charged at the best of times, but mix in the emotion of a horrible massacre and I don’t think any productive discussion can happen *right now*. Maybe in a week or two.

    But ultimately, something has to change. We can eventually argue about what but if we don’t change something in ourselves then we’ll just have to accept the regularity of this sort of barbarism.

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  9. Last year handguns were used to kill
    48 people in Japan
    8 in Great Britain
    34 in Switzerland
    52 in Canada
    58 in Israel
    21 in Sweden
    42 in West Germany
    and 10, 728 in the US.
    At that rate the “respectful days of silence” will leave no time for discussing how to end the violence.

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  10. Ken Hall says:

    Brian, You are of course correct in both your premise that the only mechanism we in the US have to address the horror of incidents such as Connecticut is political and that a rational mechanism is to politically push for mandates that require weapons made available for public consumption have cartridge capacities limited, which is precisely what I recommended in response to Ellen Rocco’s post subsequent to the Colorado theater atrocity.

    Those who think that waiting a a respectable length of time to start petitioning politicians about changing the design of such weapons, which are designed principally to enable mass murder, are playing into the hands of the manufacturers of these military assault weapons, which have been slightly down capability designed e.g.: semi automatic versus full automatic, thus enabling them to continue marketing them to willing consumers.

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  11. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    It’s not the gun, the tool, it’s the person. Already there are reports this guy was acting strange, as in mentally ill prior to this event. But we don’t lock the loonies up any more. We let them roam the streets. I have no problem taking all weapons away from the deranged, I have no problem with the police taking a far more active approach towards guys acting like this one and the Batman movie shooter was or the Ft Hood shooter or the majority of people who go nuts and hurt others. I have no problem with changing our culture to one where life is respected, not something to be ended on a whim. End the violent games, end the shows where the hero snuffs out dozens of people every 10 minutes, end the practice of killing babies for convenience sake and start bring back the idea of reverence for life.

    Don’t tell me it’s just the gun Brian, When I was growing up in the 70′s we brought guns to school, carried knives every day in school. We never, ever had a school shooting- EVER. It was unheard of. The guns today and the ammo are the same as then but they are less available, harder and far, far more expensive to get. So how can you possibly say it’s the tool? It’s NOT the gun Brian, it’s the people. It’s entirely the people. The worst you used to hear of in the 60′s, 70′s into the 80′s was someone got mugged, maybe stabbed or there was a fight outside a bar. Now you have 14 year old kids setting other kids on fire, kids beating wheelchair bound elderly people, people killing people for sneakers, people eating other peoples faces off! Look at the riots on Black Friday where people get in fist fights over clothing or crush people to death. You have gangs in northern NY, you have a decaying culture and this is a sign of it- the people lose their senses.

    You can ban mags holding more than 5 rounds, limit access, limit anything you want. What will happen is the determined nut or criminal will go to Akwasasne or Syracuse or where ever and get what he needs. You can do what’s been done at our schools and create more gun free zones. I guess today proves just how effective gun free zones are. Funny the way nuts and criminals don’t obey the law, isn’t it?

    You want to fix the problem? Then start arming teachers that want to be. Stop disarming people. We have a right to protect ourselves and our kids and our property. Ever notice how few police stations these animals try and shoot up? Or gun shops? Purposely creating an unarmed populace is no more than creating an ever larger group of defenseless victims.

    Events like this shooting absolutely sicken me. My heart bleeds for these people and their families. One armed teacher could have stopped it quickly. 3 armed teachers could have ended it that much faster. It sickens me just as much to see people jump to the conclusion that you can end the problem by removing one tool from a choice of dozens. What we need to do is end the life of the animals that try to do these things as soon as possible. You can’t do that by hiding in corner waiting for the police to show up.

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  12. Brian Mann says:

    Larry, Paul, Mervil, Brian —

    If you choose not to engage the debate right now, that’s fair.

    But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this injunction to silence. Indeed, the message after these horrific attacks is ALWAYS the same. Wait. Don’t speak. We’ll talk about it later.

    If you talk about it now, you’re being political. We’ll have a full debate about gun violence…soon.

    Or maybe next time. Or the time after that.

    My job as a journalist isn’t to reach a conclusion about what should be done.

    But I have no hesitation — none, whatsoever — when I say that I believe this is the PERFECT time to have this conversation.

    I for one am perfectly capable of feeling terrible grief and compassion, while also saying that we need to talk about it.

    This time, now, not after the next round of bloody, efficient violence.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  13. Paul says:

    Fair enough. If some gun control regs would make a difference I would be for it, and I am. But if I was a journalist I would look at some other issues. Why? Because these incidents are on the rise and lax gun control laws don’t appear to be the reason. They have been what they are over the years and this is on the rise. How can it be related to larger clips or types of guns since there is no cause and effect? One concern I would have looking at a story as a journalist is the Norway mass shooting and the two separate copy cats they found that we’re planning to do the similar things. Both this year, both in Europe. Some of these shooters are looking for attention and the coverage is giving it to them. Not sure how to deal with it but it could be an issue. But we can and should talk about gun control if it will help than fine. But I am afraid it isn’t what is needed. The other issue I can see is that life here has become complicated and some folks can’t handle it. Not giving this nut an excuse but what can we do to make sure people don’t slip over the edge. Which seems to be happening often.

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  14. Paul says:

    Also, Brian if you wanted a discussion to explore the possible reasons for the rise of this kind of thing that was not loaded you would not start with the second amendment stuff. It may be the reason but it may not. Your premise here is not about a discussion on “gun violence” but on what you personally think is the cause for the increase in it. Journalism?

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  15. Paul says:

    It was impressive how much incorrect information was reported on this incident today. (even some on NPR which usually tries to get things confirmed before they report it (at least I assume they do)) There is such a rush to give this kind of thing real time coverage.

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  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    The sad thing is that it really doesnt matter how horrific any particular event is, nothing is going to change.
    We live in an extremely dysfunctional society that will not recognize its own disfunction.

    There was a story this morning on NPR about a person in China, apparently a deranged person, who attacked school children and slashed them with a knife. Dozens were injured. As far as I know none of them died.

    How do people who advocate unrestricted weapon ownership live with themselves? I dont understand it except that they live in completely irrational fear. They believe that owning a gun will somehow make them safer even though any analysis shows that gun ownership makes the people who own them and their own loved ones less safe.

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  17. Larry: you might want to tell the folks at the NRA start showing the same decency you’re calling of Brian M.

    Brian M: the issue isn’t that we shouldn’t have the discussion ever. The issue is that right now, we simply don’t know anything close to all the details of what happened, how and why. It’s impossible to have an informed policy discussion before knowing all the facts. It’s irresponsible because acting hastily before you know all the facts usually leads to bad policy. Just look at the Patriot Act.

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  18. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Brian MOFYC, there is no need to determine the facts in this recent event. It is an event in a long line of other events. In a society that needs to train kindergarteners how to react in a lock-down situation it seems pretty self-evident that there is a major problem happening.

    And I think it is high time that people start recognizing just how valuable our teachers are; how good and caring and brave and decent they are.

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  19. Paul says:

    Knuck, You have that right. The stories about these teachers are amazing.

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  20. The Original Larry says:

    How can there be any real debate here when people shamelessly exploit the deaths of 20 children to demonize those on the opposite side of the issue? Those who do so are not interested in debate, they’re interested only in advancing their own agenda.

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  21. Peter Hahn says:

    it is common to use the emotion of major events to catalyze action. We have had many of these – a crazy person gets a bunch of guns and kills as many people as he can before being killed, killing himself, or being captured and sent to a mental facility. and rather than spurring us to act, we get all sanctimonious about the 2nd amendment. This kind of thing happens much less frequently in other countries and there is a reason. Other countries treat gun possession much more seriously than we do, and as a result they have much less gun violence.

    When I lived in Syracuse, within a two year period 4 children were killed by stray bullets about 5 blocks from where I lived. Four separate incidents. It doesnt have to be this way.

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  22. Paul says:

    “And I think it is high time that people start recognizing just how valuable our teachers are; how good and caring and brave and decent they are.”

    When did they stop?

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  23. The Original Larry says:

    Brian (MOFYC), the only thing I saw today from the NRA was a brief press release saying that they had no comment on the situation. A quick look at their web site just now shows nothing on the shooting. If that’s changed, I’m unaware of it.

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  24. The Original Larry says:

    “there is no need to determine the facts in this recent event”

    Yeah, why get all caught up in what really happened and why?

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  25. The Original Larry says:

    KHL,
    Gun ownership is not about fear, rational or otherwise.

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  26. Mayflower says:

    I have to agree with much of Arlo’s first paragraph. The very fact that most of these killers dress themselves up like video game action figures tells us something that requires our attention.

    From that point, I find his conclusions neither helpful nor logical. If we severely limit the availability of rapid-fire weapons and mega-clips, we can — without question — save lives. If we require background checks and registration of weapons purchased at gun shows, we can — without question — save lives. If we punish misuse of weapons as severely as we punish drug users and pushers, we can — without question — save lives.

    Remember that old adage, Arlo: Guns don’t kill people. But people with guns do. I suggest that until — less — we figure out a way to “fix” the people, we need to fix what can be fixed.

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  27. The Original Larry says:

    “it is common to use the emotion of major events to catalyze action.”

    So, the next time there’s a terrorist attack, do you think we should catalyze some action and turn say, Iran, for example, into a parking lot? Is that how that knee-jerk reaction thing works?

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  28. Peter Hahn says:

    No Larry we should not turn Iran into a parking lot, but after 9 11 we made a lot of changes and passed laws that wouldnt have been passed otherwise.

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  29. The Original Larry says:

    So much for respectful silence. I guess I’m no better than the rest, but I just can’t sit here and read this tripe without responding.

    Mayflower,
    Are you aware that New York City already has some of the most restrictive and punitive hand gun laws in this country? Assault weapons and high capacity magazines are banned as well. Without question, most, if not all, violent criminals are completely indifferent to those laws. Imagine that!

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  30. The Original Larry says:

    Right, Peter Hahn, and the people who promoted those laws are still being vilified for it. Can’t have it both ways.

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  31. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Gun ownership is about fear.

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  32. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    ["And I think it is high time that people start recognizing just how valuable our teachers are; how good and caring and brave and decent they are."

    When did they stop? ]

    People complain all the time about teachers; how much they get paid, how little they work…

    Dont pretend it doesn’t happen.

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  33. Ken Hall says:

    I wonder where Arlo went to school in the 70′s such that he and his compatriots were allowed to carry guns to school? I went to various schools, for all but about 1/2 of first and second grade, in the North Country and graduated from Potsdam in 1960; we were not allowed to carry guns to school.

    Larry is concerned about being vilified if laws are passed to restrict the capabilities of weapons acceptable for sale to the general public and then vilifies the gun control laws in NYC as being ineffective. Au contraire Larry the gun control laws in NYC are credited by no less a conservative figurehead than Rudy Giuliani as making NYC the safest big city in the US.

    I do partially agree with you Larry that not all gun ownership is about fear in that if one owns a few hunting weapons. If one owns AR-15′s, AK-47′s or any of the myriad of semi-automatics based upon military assault weapons for the stated purpose of “home defense”, then yes I agree with KHL in that situation, fear it is.

    KHL, As you stated: “We live in an extremely dysfunctional society that will not recognize its own dysfunction”. You are unfortunately dead on with this supposition and were it only applicable to gun ownership, homo sapiens might have a snow balls chance of extraction from the multitudes of quagmires with which we have so carelessly saddled the Earth and all her flora and fauna.

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  34. Zeke says:

    I wonder if trigger locks could have prevented this latest tragedy?

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  35. Corey says:

    I would just like to point out that I am young, about the same age as yesterday’s shooter, I own guns, I’m what most people would call a loner, I play violent video games, and I watch violent television and movies. Am I to believe that all of these things together make me a national tragedy waiting to happen? Am I a slave to these “things”? Is it possible that instead of blaming “things” and stereotyping based on ill conceived “warning signs” we instead focus on the root of the problem – a national lack of compassion for our fellow man? The way we are today is a breeding ground for exactly this type of behavior.

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  36. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Ken, in the central Adirondacks. We took them to shop class where the teacher helped us refinish the metal or make a new stock. We took them in an stored them in our lockers and went to friends house after school to go hunting. Ask other people from the same area, I’m sure it happened in Potsdam too because I’ve spoken to people who went to Potsdam about this very thing. Just because you don’t recall it doesn’t mean I’m a liar. We didn’t shoot schools up, we didn’t beat and rob people. Ya think maybe this wonderful dysfunctional society might be the problem?!!

    Weapons ownership has no more to do with fear than owning a computer with online access has to do with viewing child pornography. Both are tools, both can be misused. Seems to me it’s YOUR FEAR that is the issue. If you choose not to own a firearm, fine, good for you, I respect your choice. Your fear and even events like yesterdays are not reason enough to deny me the tools I need here on my farm or, more importantly, to deny anyone the right to defend themselves. I believe Freud said, ” A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.” You blame the object, not the person. It’s just a tool.

    Mayflower, you need to research things a bit more. The mythical “gunshow loophole” does not exist as it’s said to. No dealer can make a sale, gun show or not, without running an NCIC check. Individuals are not required to in face to face transfers. In NY and most other states with a handgun permit system a purchase order is required from the issuing permit agency before the sale can take place. Some states have waiting periods. Some state like NY already ban certain magazines of greater capacity. And I don’t know where you get the idea weapons violations aren’t treated as harshly as drug violations. My experience has been just the opposite, weapons violations are usually treated far more harshly.

    Others need to do some research into the so called assault weapons being of no use for anything but killing people. First off the AR (M-16) platform has been developed into the most popular target rifle of the day and has also been developed into one of todays most popular hunting rifles. Same for many other rifles given nasty, fear inspiring nick names. Semi auto handguns are used in a variety of shooting disciplines form traditional bullseye to Action type events. These are family events held across the nation with an incredible safety record. Self defense, as affirmed by the Supreme Court just a couple years back, is an inherent right. If someone chooses to take responsibility for their own safety, why do you think you have a right to say they can’t? You speak in terms of definitives, “without question”. Without question one armed teacher could have ended yesterdays problem post haste! Why do people ignore that? It doesn’t matter if it’s a nut with a gun or knife or gasoline bombs or a chainsaw. Allowing people the ability to act in defense is about as simple and basic a concept as there is.

    I am certain new laws and restrictions will come out of this terrible event. I’m certain political hay will be made of this. I’m also nearly as certain the root cause will not even begin to be addressed. Nuts will walk the street and the ACLU and well intentioned bleeding hearts will moan and groan about a lack of due process if we were to lock them up when they showed signs of imbalance. No one will discuss the lack of due process in punishing gun owners who’ve never broken a law or done anything remotely wrong. Many people will use their 1st Amendment rights to argue that the 2nd Amendment should be abolished. Gov’t will gain more power and the people will want to give up their right to self defense in the absurd belief criminals will obey the law and that the police will magically appear in 5 seconds when they are threatened. Criminals will have an ever larger group of sheep to choose from.

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  37. Arlo T. Ledbetter says:

    Another thought occurs- Brian says the problem is efficiency. Well, then shouldn’t we outlaw social media and probably the internet? After all, look at the cyber bullying going on. Kids killing kids because of it, committing suicide. If we outlawed Facebook and the internet our kids would be safer, right? We’d cut down on the distribution of child porn, cripple gangs and drug rings, avoid things like “The Craigslist Killer”. There are any number of good, common sense arguments against the internet. At least limit it! Slow down connection speeds, require a background check for bullying or porn purchases before allowing anyone to posses a computer. And the games! We should require special licensing and high fees for anyone wanting to own game with violence in it. Obviously these people are budding murderers and these games give them the training they need. You should have to prove an real need for a computer before being allowed to own one.

    Makes a lot of sense, eh?

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  38. Newt says:

    I agree with those who thought it inappropriate to talk policy issues yesterday, when the time should have been given over to getting the facts straight, and grieving for the victims.

    That’s why I stayed away from here.

    I think those of you, esp.. Brian M., who jumped in to policy stuff while bodies of children were still warm and lying in the school, and many details missing or, as with the killer’s proper identity, incorrect, were engaging in a form of self-therapy……”How can we fix this?” (I do it all the time) If that, and the normal In-Box back and forth made you feel better, fine. I guess, in that sense, the post may have served a useful purpose.

    But not as informed comment. As in that function, it not only failed, it seemed to get people riled up divided along traditional pro- & anti-gun lines while hot with emotion. Not, IMHO, helpful.

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  39. mervel says:

    I think there might be two issues both relevant. One is the mechanics of owning machine guns, in the past this was not allowed, but gun technology and less restrictive laws have gotten around that. You are never going to outlaw guns in this country, however machine guns? We could look at restricting machine guns and bazookas and flame throwers while we are at it; we don’t need those things. I have guns, I enjoy hunting I enjoy shooting, etc, I am a low average shot but still like it. But the idea that I would keep my hunting guns around to ever kill a human with seems insane to me for any reason including self defense.

    The other issue is the darkness that seems to lay on our materialistic society, we are a violent people, we also seem to focus on death and violence in much of the media we consume, and our young people consume, I think we should look at that. This is also it looks like now a story about domestic violence.

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  40. Paul says:

    If some gun control changes will make a difference than we should do it, but I don’t think we should continue to be distracted from the other, possibly more important, causes of this sort of thing. Let’s re-instate the assault weapons ban but here that would only deal with the gun that was in the car in the parking lot. As to Brian’s “efficiency” point that could make a difference in some other shootings but it looks like this guy just used two pretty standard type guns that didn’t have high capacity clips.

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  41. If we can’t discuss it now, when?

    I agree with Brian that we need to do something about the accessibility of these “efficient” weapons. Growing up in the country I had a BB gun and sometime in my mid-teens my father gave me a 22 but it was a bolt action rifle, not a semi-automatic handgun. When I was carrying it everyone knew it, unlike the handguns that can be hidden in a pocket. In fact, growing up I knew only one person, a older man, who even owned a pistol and that was a 38 revolver that required cocking the hammer before each shot.

    But there is more to this problem than the guns themselves. Call it the “mass consciousness” or whatever but our society has changed. People did not feel the need for deadly weapons to protect themselves the way they do now. It is not that it was a less violent time when I was young. Fist fights were not unusual in schools. Learning to defend oneself was common, a manly art, but it generally involved body to body impact, not weapons. There were “killing” games, cowboys & Indians for example but the killing was imaginary and lacked the graphic qualities of playing Doom on a large screen. And often the combatant you “killed” would shout back “No, you missed me”.

    What lead us to this point is complex and gun control is not the only answer but I agree with Brian that the availability of guns that have no purpose except killing our fellow humans should be restricted in a meaningful way. I would remind Arlo that one of the teachers involved was armed. It was guns belonging to the killer’s mother, a kindergarten teacher in the school, who died first by those weapons which were then to be followed by 20 children and a half dozen fellow teachers.

    It took a long time for our society to come to this state and we won’t fix it quickly either but restricting access to these weapons is a sensible first step. Simply arguing that “they’ll find a way to get them” is not an answer.

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  42. Peter Hahn says:

    Where my kids went to school they had to go through a metal detector.

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  43. Brian Mann says:

    Hi guys –

    I think you all know that I read and take on board the comments that In Boxers make. I listen carefully.

    So what I’m expressing here is informed disagreement, not merely defensiveness or stubbornness.

    This is a very particular and unique policy debate, where the narrative from those who favor gun rights have pushed a very specific (and successful) narrative. It goes like this.

    1. When a violent event happens involving guns, it is unacceptable to talk about it in the moment. That is “politicizing” or “exploiting” an event. Silence is required. Anyone who attempts to raise questions about the framework in which these events keep happening is insensitive or cynical or both. The implication is that later — when “the bodies have cooled” to borrow a phrase from some posters here — we will convene this necessary discussion.

    2. But later, that conversation is efficiently short-circuited. Once it is no longer on the front pages, or in the front of our minds, the most partisan and active people in this debate (gun owners, gun manufacturers and gun rights advocates) once again mobilize effectively to close down any informed debate about the future of gun regulation. Simply having the conversation, they argue, or talking about practical regulation (as opposed to outright bans) is a slippery slope that will end with the loss of fundamental freedoms.

    Which is why I, as a journalist, have declined to participate in this particular public ritual.

    I believe this is one instance where the natural instincts of grieving and respect and temperance have been — I want to say this bluntly — exploited cynically.

    I also think this horrible rhythm of violence followed by silence followed by partisan politicization means that average citizens are excluded from the debate at precisely the moment when their thoughts and desires are focused most intently on the problem.

    Finally, I think this pattern has allowed those who favor unfettered access to even the most efficient and deadly weapons to avoid talking and thinking aloud about the moral implications of their political stance.

    It is understandable that people who believe in the principle of largely unregulated gun ownership prefer not to grapple with the complex, morally fraught real-world implications of that stance.

    But I don’t think that’s the way an informed and honest debate should unfold.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  44. wj says:

    Right on, Brian.

    Now’s the time to talk about gun violence.

    We should keep talking about it, too.

    These claims that we don’t have all the information are perverse. A man carrying three loaded firearms walked into an elementary school and started shooting. He killed 26 people. As a society, we have to act in order to make sure it does not happen again.

    Anyone, please tell me what additional info we need.

    We didn’t need more info about Jerry Sandusky.

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  45. mervel says:

    There are a range of issues here, not just gun control, starting with school access and moving to looking at re-institutionalizing the potentially violent mentally ill. We can open up the discussion that is fine, but don’t think it can be just about a very narrow topic of assault weapons.

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  46. Will Doolittle says:

    I went to school in the North Country in the ’70s (Saranac Lake) and even though a lot of violence was allowed, it was all punching and kicking, which was bad enough. No one was allowed to carry weapons, and no one did, as far as I ever knew. I don’t know where you went to school, Arlo, but it sounds like a strange place.
    It’s interesting that, on the same day as the Conn. shooting, a man attacked schoolchildren in China, wounding 22 of them. Why wounding? Probably because he was using a knife and not, as Brian points out, weapons that have been manufactured into highly efficient human killing machines. The absurdity of this debate boggles the mind — gun advocates have drawn the line so far into the mass-human killing zone that it does no good to argue. Anyone who cannot see that, on its face, an assault rifle capable of shooting numerous bullets in quick succession should not be easily obtainable by anyone, including unstable 20-year-olds, cannot be reasoned with.

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  47. Peter Hahn says:

    Brian – the only problem, in terms of talking about “what to do about gun violence” is that most of the obvious solutions run into the 2nd amendment, and how it is interpreted by todays courts.

    Its kind of hard to have a policy debate when the only legally possible policy is doing nothing.

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  48. mervel says:

    But you are assuming the policy debate on this issue is only about guns. I do think part of the answer is advocating for the assault weapons ban. So from that regard Peter we can do something on the gun front. Will is correct no one needs an assault rifle and there is nothing about the second amendment that would prevent restrictions on military hardware. The key is restrictions not really on machine guns, but on the size of the magazines. For example when I hunt pheasants in SD with my family I am only allowed to have 6 shells in my gun at any one time; as it would not be sporting to simply mow pheasants down, in that regard we worry more about pheasants than we do humans.

    But then you run into the problem of rifles and handguns. I don’t think an assault weapon was used in this case but the magazine was certainly expanded because he fired so many rounds.

    So we outlaw all expanded magazines and assault weapons. So you walk into a school with two shotguns and an armored vest and plenty of shells, you would have at least twelve shots available to you plus re-loading; we are never going to outlaw shotguns in this country. So where do you go from there?

    This issue is deeper than guns, it has to do with what is wrong with our society, school security, and mental illness.

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  49. mervel says:

    One thing to look at would be much much better access to crisis mental illness teams who could work with police and and others. So when I am concerned about my friend who likes to talk about killing people and death; I have someone to call who will actually reach out to them before it is too late.

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  50. Marcus says:

    I think having this discussion is great, needed and utlimately useless. Almost all the politicians are a bunch of chicken sh*ts whose only motive is doing whatever it takes to get themselves re-elected.

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