Newton CT – Day 3

I wrote something short on the Facebook page of an old friend who called for more “gun control.”  He wrote back.  I wrote this response.


I actually live on the “West Side” near [omitted.]  My first comment on the Newton matter was to wonder why the events in Newton & Aurora get big news while we can’t get any real media attention about Chicago killing 450 black (and brown) children ever year in this city. We may not live near Fenger but we’re touched by violence. My wife was out walking our baby (now six) in a buggy when a block away a kid was shot by Crane H.S. The wife and kid were nearly trampled in the ensuing stampede of children away from the scene. She was also out walking with the baby the day that they beat a kid to death with a baseball bat or golf club or something literally on the steps of the H.S.

And that my old friend is the telling part – if the gang wants you dead they don’t need a gun to make that happen. The same day as the tragedy in Newton some wacko killed 20 kids with a sword at a school in China. Banning guns will not prevent crazy & will not stop mass killings.

There are many many things that went wrong in Newton. Mom should have been a better gun owner and kept her guns in a safe (I keep my guns in a safe.) It appears that access to the school was through a broken window. Perhaps the physical infrastructure needed to be improved. Having talked to people “on the job” I know that CPD policy in Chicago is that 1st on the scene does NOT go into the building b/c they don’t know what they’re dealing with. I think this is a bad policy. You cannot have cops literally 30-40 feet away standing around while kids are getting shot. My guess is that L.E. took a long time to “secure” the building which delayed EMS from getting to the victims. And my guess is that EMS in Newton is simply not equipped to deal with gunshot wounds the way that we deal with them here (I believe the Army still trains field surgeons at County.)

It’s just easy to blame the firearm. There are about 250 million vehicles in the country. There are about 310 non-military firearms (via CNN Aug. 9, 2012.) According to the CDC in 2010 children ages 5-9 were 6 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than by a firearm. Children are over twice as likely to drown and 1.5 times as likely to die in a fire over being killed by a gun. These are facts at the second link in my previous post. So if you’re serious about saving kids lives look at making cars and pools safer.

As for who as access and training, perhaps you raise a point. However I have been trained. I’ve completed a 4 hour class on gun safety. A 10 hour NRA class on safety and marksmanship. 40 hours on the laws in Illinois (despite already being an attorney.) I train regularly at a local range which costs $70-80 per visit (fees + ammo.) I’m fully prepared to stop anyone who should attack me or my family yet I pray everyday that I never need to. But I’m lucky; I have the means to make this happen. It is very expensive.

Self defense is everyone’s right. Recently there was this story: This girl had no training and my guess is that her family did/does not have the means to send her and the rest of her family to training at $200 a head. This type of situation plays out everyday (the old man in the FL internet cafe also recently made news b/c there was security video.) Guns are used defensively far more often than offensively. There’s a good chance that Kendra St. Clair would be dead if she didn’t have her mother’s gun.

And that is where the NRA and the so called “Gun Lobby” is coming from. Yes, the events in Newton and VA Tech and everywhere else are tragic. But for every Newton there are 50 or 60 or 100 Kendra St. Clair’s. Battered wives and girlfriends who are able to protect themselves from abusive men. Store owners who use their guns to prevent a crime from happening simply by not being an easy target. What about these people?

When seconds count the police are just minutes away. A few years ago some kids were popping off a few shots out of a revolver in the alley beside my house. I called 911 and reported “shots fired.” It took over 15 mins for CPD to arrive. That’s the response time in an urban area to shots fired. If these kids kicked-in the door to my house we’d all be dead by the time CPD arrived… if I didn’t have the ability to shoot back (well that and our 145 pounds worth of dogs.) You can imagine what the response time would be out in the sticks. I sleep better knowing that if someone’s in the house odds are nearly perfect that I won’t need to actually shoot them. I can put two rounds into the bathroom shower and the intruder will not stick around to see where the next ones go.

Your experience at OTSC is common. I know of parents who made their kids sleep in the bathtub for fear of a stray round coming through the wall or window. But no law is going to take those guns out of the hands of gang-bangers. A good start would be to get the Democratic machine that runs this town to turn over all felons w/ guns to the feds. 5 year min law is on the books but Ms. Anita Alveraz refused to send them over to the feds. Why?

Ya see… there are a LOT of gun laws on the books that are simply not enforced. I truly believe this is b/c Rahm, Obama, Holder, and the rest of the Democrat cabal actively choose not to enforce them so they can demand new laws. It’s a sham.

So to recap:
– Guns are not the single cause of the tragedy;
– Guns are not as deadly to kids as cars, pools, or fires;
– Guns are mostly used defensively and save thousands of lives each year;
– Most gun violence is caused by illegally held guns; and
– We should start by enforcing the laws already on the books and insisting that violent offenders do real time.

Thoughts on Colorado – Freedom vs. Safety

This is was written as a comment on this NYT piece.  I’ve made it much longer here because the NYT limits space.

Restricting access to firearms will never stop these kinds of attacks.  As a society we need to resolve ourselves that some people are crazy and will drive cars into crowds, shoot other people en mass, and otherwise engage in spree killings.

Many believe it’s as simple as restricting access a/k/a gun control.  But what happens when a police officer’s gun is stolen?  What should we do with the 5+ million firearms already owned? What about hunters?  People who think that food comes from a store don’t have decent solutions that play nationally.

Vermont has nearly no restrictions on firearm ownership or concealed carry.  One never hears of people shooting-up a Home Depot in Vermont.  Why should Vermont be required to change their laws – which appear to work and the citizens clearly want – because of actions in New York or Colorado?

In Chicago (where I live) we have the most restrictive gun laws in the country.  It’s not working.  In addition to gangs using guns to solve problems they routinely use knives.  In Chicago over 500 people are stabbed each year.  Should we outlaw knives?

Chicago has also been the city where three times in as many years we’ve made national news because people have been beaten with baseball bats or a 2×4.  One Irish girl is still in a coma as a result of a beating; another H.S. student is dead.  Dozens of others have been seriously injured.  Should Chicago ban baseball bats and lumber?

Additionally, at least 4 kids have drowned at local pools and the lake this year.  Should we close them too?

Of course the last example are accidents.  I recently read a story about “who’s to blame” for the recent drownings.  The story quoted one dead child’s uncle who asked where the lifeguards were.  I wondered where we was.  It is not patently irresponsible for a parent to send a child to a pool if they cannot adequately swim?  While the parents may be negligent, they surely did not intend for their children to drown.  That’s a very very different situation from Colorado — that is recognized.

But accidents deserve to be included in the analysis because of how society reacts to the event.  And also because how society deals with “means” vs. “ends”.  The end result is the same, people are dead.  We as a society accept that while tragic, we should not close down pools and beaches because they take hundreds of lives each year.  We believe those losses are tragic but the risk / reward (pleasure) ratio is acceptable.

This is similar to driving.  Traffic accidents kill over 40,000 people each year.  We believe that the risk of being injured or dying in a traffic accident is acceptable given the benefit we receive by not having to walk everywhere (or take a horse which is probably more dangerous.)

As a society we do our best to reduce the risks.  At pools and beaches we employ lifeguards.  In Chicago lifeguards are paid for by the taxpayer who may or may not utilize them.  On the roads we have laws against drunk driving; we don’t let 12 year-olds drive either.  We, through our government, demand that cars have seat belts and air bags.  It appears that society in general is content with the risk / reward balance.  But of course we could do more.

It would be very easy for the government to mandate that every vehicle be equipped with a sobriety tester.  It would prevent drunks from driving.

We, through our government, could also mandate a speed control device on all cars so that they’re limited to the speed limit.  It would prevent high speed crashes not to mention high speed police chases.

Why do we not have these existing technologies in our cars already?  Because society does not want them.  We’re happy with the balance of risk / reward that is involved with driving.  We value our freedom to drive drunk and fast more than we demand additional safety.

And that is how we need to address gun control.  Do we wish to give up more freedom in order to provide more safety?  And would we in fact be safer with less freedoms?  Those are two different questions.

There is no doubt that lifeguards and air bags save lives.

There is a lot of doubt as to banning guns would save any lives.

The facts are clear that More Guns Equal Less Crime.

So however tragic the recent events in Colorado may be, further restrictions on our freedom will not result in additional safety.

We morn those who we’ve lost.  We pray for their families.  We struggle to find answers to unanswerable questions.

But most importantly, we get on with our lives recognizing that evil is present in the world and that bad things happen to good people.  In the end we also know that we cannot prevent these events from happening by passing additional laws.