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March 24, 2008 8:06 AM   Subscribe

The gun dealer who sold the ammunition used in both the Northern Illinois and Virginia Tech campus shootings obviously feels remorse over his role, and wishes to atone. His solution? A (concealed) gun for every student.
posted by Kibbutz (135 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now he is partnering with Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national group that next month will hold an "empty-holster" protest against university gun-free zones. Thompson will donate holsters to the group, adding a high-profile touch to a small but growing push for guns on campus.

Kind of like when Gillette sends you a razor for your 18th birthday. They're really just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. I imagine Budweiser would really love to lower the legal drinking age too, and Marlboro would love to let 15-year-olds buy cigarettes.

Hell needs a tenth level for this fuckwit.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:16 AM on March 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


That'd make for some noisy parties. Good times.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:17 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


And when I say "obviously feels remorse" I mean of course "he feels no remorse whatsoever":

"No, I didn't feel any personal responsibility," Thompson said. "Both of these murderers, they were able to get their weapons legally. They were able to pass background checks."
posted by Kibbutz at 8:17 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:17 AM on March 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


billy needs one.
posted by quonsar at 8:17 AM on March 24, 2008


What a waste: why not put 'em in glass cases next to the fire extinguishers? Or maybe everyone should just carry around concealed fire extinguishers?
posted by fatllama at 8:18 AM on March 24, 2008


You know who else where able to get their weapons legally?
posted by DU at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2008


Words cannot express how strongly I disagree with his plan. Ugh.
posted by lizzicide at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2008


If there's one thing binge-drinking college students need, it's guns!

I think what's happened is that the gun lobby and gun enthusiasts have always sort of made this argument that more guns = less crime. But as they've repeated it over and over and over it's become axiomatic to them and they just assume that the best way to prevent gun violence is to just arm everyone so they can fight back.

The problem, of course, is that while guns might come in handy for fighting off crazed shooters, that's a very rare occurrence. But what's common is for people to get into physical confrontations. If you arm everyone, more of those confrontations would become lethal. (Especially when you add in drinking, as college students do)

Even simple accidents would wind up killing more people then you would save by killing the random spree killer.
posted by delmoi at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2008 [10 favorites]


Damnit, quonsar beat me to it.

Wow, this is quite possibly the dumbest thing I've heard so far this morning. Yes, that's exactly what we need in our nation's colleges and universities, concealed weapons in the hands of everyone. Do you know how many overly aggressive, close-minded frat/jock assholes I would have shot all by myself had I had access to a guns while I was at University?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:23 AM on March 24, 2008


Thompson will donate holsters to the group, adding a high-profile touch to a small but growing push for guns on campus.

Perhaps he could sponsor a few funerals too?

Or do a few ads...

Thompson Ammo. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:23 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gun dealer thinks the solution to all problems are for more people to buy guns (from him).

The guy is kind of a slimeball, but at worst he's being an ethically-challenged capitalist.
posted by mathowie at 8:25 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


funny, thats the first thing thats ever gone wrong.
posted by yonation at 8:26 AM on March 24, 2008


I actually met a guy last week with this very same "solution". All I could do is listen slack-jawed. And it's not the first time such a solution has been floated.

The idea that a campus-full of armed students will behave responsibly utterly flies in the face of reality. And the idea that, when faced with an armed threat, these students will quickly, calmly, effectively and (hopefully) accurately respond and put the threat down is sheer fantasy.

You want a higher body count? Arm a studyhall full of tired, over-caffeinated students and insert an intruder. I'm betting the result will be a radical re-definition of the term "friendly fire".
posted by Thorzdad at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


sold the ammunition used in both the Northern Illinois and Virginia Tech campus shootings

Going for the hat trick, eh?
posted by anthill at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna have to say that padding your post with a link to the moron's retail business wasn't the smartest move.
posted by dobbs at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2008


Call me heathen, but I think having more guns on campus, in the hands of responsible and properly trained gun owners, would reduce the incidence and potentially the damage of these attacks.

Arming every jackass is undoubtedly a bad move. Simply enabling the lawful possession of weapons, far from being the end of the world, would allow a more civilized and responsible campus culture to emerge.
posted by polyhedron at 8:35 AM on March 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


Going for the hat trick, eh?

He should just advertise a 20% discount for revenge cases.
posted by fatllama at 8:36 AM on March 24, 2008


Other than this guy's incidental role in a couple of different tragedies, why does this guy's opinion even rate? Mostly, he's stumbled upon a new marketing vehicle for his business and is attempting to exploit it.

Also, news at 11: Gun Advocates and Gun Merchants believe that having more guns solves problems that are caused by not having enough guns.
posted by psmealey at 8:39 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's just trying to create the same safe and polite society seen in the 19th century American West.
posted by Legomancer at 8:44 AM on March 24, 2008 [13 favorites]


Here's a perfect argument for distance learning.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


And the cure for cancer is massive doses of radiation for everyone!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:47 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Clearly, this guy's never spent any time on a college campus. This strikes me as being as being as stupid as prophylactically exposing everyone on campus to syphillis so that the few who might spread syphillis are rendered powerless...

Or maybe it's like giving everyone on campus a syringe filled with antibiotics in order to prepare them to STOP syphillis while it's being transmitted...

I cannot decide, and will have to live forever with the knowledge that I committed more than 12 seconds to this execrable idiot.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 8:49 AM on March 24, 2008


Both of these murderers, they were able to get their weapons legally. They were able to pass background checks.

Hmm. Somehow I think the solution to this problem lays elsewhere.
posted by chunking express at 8:54 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you know how many overly aggressive, close-minded frat/jock assholes I would have shot all by myself had I had access to a guns while I was at University?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 10:23 AM


So what you're saying is, because you can't be trusted no one else can, either?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:54 AM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Too many damn guns in the United States.

Back in the mid / late 80's, I owned and operated two art galleries in New York, both in The East Village, first Skull Space, Essex Street for six months, and Anti Gallery, fifth street off Ave B for perhaps a year (yeh I know what you're thinking: I hadn't yet attended Business School, and the art biz is a tough biz).

The operating model was very simple: group shows (almost exclusively), which stay up for three weeks, separated by one week tear down / setup for the new show. For each new show I'd toss a rather large opening, typically with a band, a poet, maybe some performance artist doing his or her thing.

We'd also have a fairly large spread of seasonal fruit, herbal tea, a keg and some cheap white wine. Between what I'd provided and some of the - ahemm, "substances" - folks would bring along, we have some wild ass openings.

As I actually resided in both spaces, I'd be the person cleaning up after the opening. At least twice I found discarded guns, either in the clutter and debris left behind on the floor (btw, did you know most people are pigs?) or in the trash bins.

Handguns each time, nothing eye popping in terms of calibre or other attributes of a weapon, but still guns. That had been discarded. Casually tossed away. Not because someone had done someone else in my gallery, settled a beef and had to ditch the piece, no, only because back then in New York handguns were so damn cheap they could just toss it. Especially so if they were headed out clubbing, and knew they'd probably be searched.

I have nothing against guns. A country boy, I grew up shooting guns. I've worked in remote parts of Africa where you damn well better carry a sidearm. I've got no problems with guns but there is a time and place for guns.

And I don't think it's The United States of America in the year 2008.
posted by Mutant at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2008 [10 favorites]


> Even simple accidents would wind up killing more people then you would save by killing the random spree killer.

This is quite possibly true, but since we seem as a culture to care a whole lot more about 'random spree killers' than we do about accidents, the stance is quite logical.

All ways of dying are not equal in most people's minds. Getting killed in a drunken brawl just doesn't inspire the same fear that being hunted down by a crazed lunatic does. And thus many people are more than willing to increase their overall net chance of being killed, if it lessens their chance of being killed in a really objectionable or frightening way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:03 AM on March 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


I am so afraid of being eaten by sharks that I have started a program to fill all open areas of water with voracious piranha, in the hopes that, should a shark happen by, they will eat it. I think the increase in piranha-related human fatalities is an unrelated coincidence.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:06 AM on March 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


A documentary review of handguns in school suggests this won't wendell.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:08 AM on March 24, 2008


I think people who get concealed carry permits should be able to carry on campus as well. In the states I've lived in (Washington and Nevada), that requires being 21 and passing a background check. In Nevada you also have to take a class.

How is a college campus so different from everywhere else that someone licensed to carry concealed shouldn't be allowed to carry there as well?

I know I would feel a lot safer. Although my concern is more about being able to defend myself against rape or other attacks on my way to the parking lot at night (I take night classes) than it is about an unlikely attack from a school shooter.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:13 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


My question is, what is it about this guy's marketing techniques that attracted the two mass-murderers to buy from him. It seems sort of surprising that two guys, linked only by their craziness, would both buy their ammunition from him.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:15 AM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow, this is quite possibly the dumbest thing I've heard so far this morning. Yes, that's exactly what we need in our nation's colleges and universities, concealed weapons in the hands of everyone. Do you know how many overly aggressive, close-minded frat/jock assholes I would have shot all by myself had I had access to a guns while I was at University?

Zero. They would have got you first. They are already society's campers. Give them guns and it doesn't matter what your packin since they already have the spawn sites locked down.
posted by srboisvert at 9:18 AM on March 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


I think having more guns on campus, in the hands of responsible and properly trained gun owners, would reduce the incidence and potentially the damage of these attacks.

Yes, because college campuses are just packed with responsible people.

To someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
posted by rtha at 9:19 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, here's what totally confuses me about the gun-control debate, particularly as it occurs in Virginia. Why is the push not just for the right to own or carry guns, but for the right to have concealed carry? If having a gun is all about the right to protect yourself, why do you have to conceal it? What additional social good does that accomplish? If anything, being required to have your firearm visible when you are out and about with it seems like it would deter more crime.

A few days ago, I read about this protest by gun owners in Northern Virginia and I had to read the article twice to understand what the heck was going on. It's legal to carry guns into restaurants in the state as long as they are openly displayed (I'll admit, it would make me a bit nervous to sit at Starbucks next to someone with a holster, but I think if you're going to have people walking around with guns it makes more sense to have them out where everyone can see them). Evidently, that's not enough; since restaurant owners can ask someone displaying a sidearm to leave, there's now a push to allow concealed carry into restaurants and bars.

The pro-private-property-rights and pro-guns-wherever-I-want-them aspects of conservative VA politics collide, and it makes my head hurt. And it's fascinating to me that no one in the state really seems to find it exceptional that almost all the debates whether students having guns would have prevented VA Tech take for granted that the only options are concealed carry or no guns at all.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:20 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why the weapons have to be concealed. If they were in plane view I think a potential shooter might have second thoughts if he walked into a classroom and saw several students with weapons.
posted by Sailormom at 9:21 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


A message for Eric Thompson: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
posted by Doohickie at 9:23 AM on March 24, 2008


On preview what iminurmefi said.
posted by Sailormom at 9:24 AM on March 24, 2008


Okay, after reading the article, I think this is a pretty lame FPP, although the blame really goes to the exceedingly lame linked article. "A (concealed) gun for every student" is patently false and completely misleading.

What the student group is asking for isn't a handout of free guns to every student, it's an elimination of the law that bars people who already have state-issued concealed-carry permits from carrying on public university campuses, in the same way that they can currently carry just about anywhere else (including private university campuses, off-campus housing, etc.). That's it, that's the change they're looking for.

That doesn't strike me as nearly as ridiculous as the FPP/article makes it out to be. Anyone who wanted to be armed would still have to go through the normal permitting process, which in many states requires a safety course, background check, and review by the local police department -- a not-insubstantial outlay of time, effort, and money. Since these are the same requirements that apply to anyone who wants to carry a gun anywhere else (say, in a shopping mall), it doesn't seem too egregious. I don't think there's anything about a public university that makes it inherently different than many other public places. The claims and comments that the students involved want to turn universities into some sort of gunslinger utopia don't make a lot of sense given this, unless you think that the rest of the country outside of public universities is already a gunslinger utopia.

But talk about sensationalist, yellow journalism. Jeez.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:25 AM on March 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


rest of the country outside of public universities is already a gunslinger utopia.

Well, you know, looking from this side of the Atlantic...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2008


If having a gun is all about the right to protect yourself, why do you have to conceal it?

Because most people would look at you as though you were a hideous mutant if you carried openly?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:34 AM on March 24, 2008


I realize that "college kids with untreated depression" is pretty much the last target market about which Mr. Thompson is likely to give a shit, but boy howdy suicide numbers are gonna climb if this happens.
posted by nicepersonality at 9:40 AM on March 24, 2008


XQUZYPHYR: "Hell needs a tenth level for this fuckwit."

They're going as fast as they can, goddammit.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:41 AM on March 24, 2008


Kadin, it's not true that people with a concealed carry permit can take those firearms anywhere in the state--the big exception that I'm aware of being any restaurant or bar that serves alcohol. (They can of course just strap it on somewhere clearly visible and it's a-okay in that situation.)

To my (admitted liberal) eyes, it seems like this is a more fundamental disagreement about how to balance property (and/or local community) rights v. the individual right to have a gun, and since pro-gun advocates are generally in favor of both, they have to carve out this kind of weird solution that doesn't seem to make sense on its face. I mean, if you really strongly believe in property rights, then the people who run schools (or the local communities, if it's a community-run place) have a right to make whatever arbitrary rule they want about what people are allowed and not allowed to do there, including prohibiting guns. If someone has a problem with it, it's their choice about whether to comply, versus a problem with the rules. Since we can't abridge the right of the trustees of the college (or, as in the article I linked above, the right of restaurant and bar owners) to forbid guns on campus, but we still want to let people carry their firearms wherever they go, we say, "Concealed carry is a fundamental right!" Because if no one knows you're packing, then the people who run the place can't throw you out, and we avoid a confrontation of these two dearly-held conservative principles. It's kind of like everybody wins without compromising anything, if you don't look at it too deeply.

Of course, that's my take on it, and it's largely influenced by the fact that I just can't think of a reason that carrying a concealed firearm is superior to openly carrying a firearm that works in terms of the pro-gun rights rhetoric that I've heard. I'd be interested in hearing if there's an alternative explanation from someone who is pro-concealed carry, though.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:45 AM on March 24, 2008


Statistics clearly show that MORE guns will lead to LESS shootings.

Anyway, I'm a grad student and teacher at a big state University. There was a campus shooting here about 7 years ago, before I was here, where an older male nursing student shot 4 people and then himself.

After Virginia Tech, this idea started making the rounds pretty heavily. In fact, I think that our state legislature is currently considering a bill to allow concealed weapons on campus, as are at least a few other states (the number 8 springs to mind, for whatever reason).

This is so mind-bogglingly stupid. It both angers and saddens me to a ridiculous degree. I mean, look, I like my students, I really do. But this kids can barely remember to bring their books to class. They are confused, stressed, irresponsible, unthinking. Not to get all off-my-lawn, but my general sense is that the current crop of 18 yr olds have been mechanized to a greater degree than previous generations. Their parents planned every moment of the day, told them what to think, what they would be when they grow up, etc. etc. They come to college and they freak the hell out. Freedom is a terrifying experience for these kids. And now we want to give them guns? Fuck that. Do people not remember that it was called the "Wild West" not the "Mild West"? School violence is a terrible symptom of some very deep problems in our culture. Handing out more guns is just increasing the symptom, not treating the disease. Oh, and just wait until the handguns become the latest fashion accessory. I've got a bigger one that you! I've got TWO handguns! I've got an ankle holster!

Let's imagine a scenario. Its a campus where concealed handguns are allowed. A guy walks into a classroom and starts shooting. An armed student manages to draw and take him out. Hooray, the day is saved, right? Well, think about the heightened sense of fear and danger that these kids are in, and combine that with their lack of knowledge. Was this guy alone? Maybe there is another shooter, or shooters.

Maybe a student in the classroom next door has heard all the shooting, pulls out a glock and goes next door to save the day. Walks in, sees some people dead, another person standing there with a gun. Oh my god, it's the shooter, he's killing people! And the student-savior in the classroom sees another person entering with guns drawn. Oh my god, it's a second shooter! What happens now? Now multiply that by however many armed students heard the gunshots and start thinking they can save the day because they took a class on proper handgun usage. Or what about when the cops come in, see a bunch of kids with guns drawn, what are they going to do?

The people who promote such stupid ideas often talk about how an armed society is a polite society. No, an armed society is a fearful society. Who knows what fuck has a gun and is ready to use it? If these school shooters got their weapons legally, what prevents anyone else who got their legally from freaking the fuck out and going mental? Do we really want a society where people are constantly in fear of their fellow citizens? Well, yes, some people do. Me? Not so much.
posted by papakwanz at 9:45 AM on March 24, 2008 [19 favorites]


Call me heathen, but I think having more guns on campus, in the hands of responsible and properly trained gun owners, would reduce the incidence and potentially the damage of these attacks.

We already have such people, they're called policemen, and they're bad enough already.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


So, the solution is more guns? I don't think so.

Is, then, the solution fewer guns? Good luck with that!
posted by Daddy-O at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2008


Guns at keg parties. Brilliant.
posted by Rafaelloello at 9:57 AM on March 24, 2008


Hmmm...I can remember a few evenings back in college when levels of inebriation might've slightly reduced the probability of responsible gun ownership.

"Yo, Gerp, betcah can't shoot the apple off my head. Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaa. Pop..."

.
posted by VicNebulous at 9:57 AM on March 24, 2008


mathowie opined:
"at worst he's being an ethically-challenged capitalist"

Nothing wrong with that!

Check out these examples of other ethically-challenged capitalists getting their greed on:

Exxon
Melamine in pet food
Unwell cattle entering food supply
Unsafe toys
These guys
This guy

...he's in great company! Maybe he can parlay this into true success on the global stage, since all that truly requires is a commitment to generating capital and to hell with those troublesome ethics!
posted by batmonkey at 9:58 AM on March 24, 2008


Mutant:As I actually resided in both spaces, I'd be the person cleaning up after the opening. At least twice I found discarded guns, either in the clutter and debris left behind on the floor (btw, did you know most people are pigs?) or in the trash bins.

Handguns each time, nothing eye popping in terms of calibre or other attributes of a weapon, but still guns. That had been discarded. Casually tossed away. Not because someone had done someone else in my gallery, settled a beef and had to ditch the piece, no, only because back then in New York handguns were so damn cheap they could just toss it. Especially so if they were headed out clubbing, and knew they'd probably be searched.


I dunno, from your story it seems that people hopped up on substances don't seem to shoot people. As a matter of fact they tend to just throw their weapons away like gum wrappers.

When I lived in Mission Viejo Ca, there was a mall right next to Interstate 5 that had a HUGE rabbit population. There where rabbits everywhere, so much so that the city had pegged them as a pest. You know how many flat rabbits I saw on that stretch of I-5? Zero. It seems that though the wonders of natural selection the rabbits figured out that leading a long and successful life meant not running around on the freeway.

So yeah, if this plan went into effect as some of you in here portray (all students get some hollow points and a saturday night special) I believe only a couple of accidents would occur before the college population in general would evolve. It would only take one or two people to leave their safety off and shoot themselves in the neck when they reach in their bag for a book before people got the idea in their heads that guns are not toys.

No flat rabbits on the freeway.

I also have to say that I hate the "gun rage" arguments that some people in this thread are using. When I was logging, not once did I see anyone get into a chainsaw fight when tempers flared. If the "gun rage" argument was valid I'm sure I'd have seen a couple limbs hacked off over a stolen sandwich. I knew a lot of people who carry guns on their person, all legal, and the only shootings I knew about in the area I grew up in where all felons with illegal pieces.

All that being said, I don't own any firearms nor do I plan to.

Personal experience != General Trends... blah blah
posted by The Power Nap at 9:59 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Statistics clearly show that MORE guns will lead to LESS shootings."

Sources?
posted by oddman at 10:00 AM on March 24, 2008


oddman: I was being sarcastic.
posted by papakwanz at 10:02 AM on March 24, 2008


Do we really want a society where people are constantly in fear of their fellow citizens?

I definitely do not, but that's pretty much what we have already, given Dateline, Megan's Law, terrorist paranoia and just about anything you see on the local 6 o'clock news.
posted by psmealey at 10:02 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Because most people would look at you as though you were a hideous mutant if you carried openly?

Surely not? I'd always thought that America was full of people who wanted nothing more than to strap two six-shooters around their waist, just hoping somebody would have the nerve to try and beat them to the draw?

unless you think that the rest of the country outside of public universities is already a gunslinger utopia.

If it isn't a gunslinger utopia, then why would anybody even want a concealed carry permit in the first place? Do you think all these people are desperate to tote around an enormous lump of metal strapped to their chest or in their purse for the sheer erotic charge of it?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:08 AM on March 24, 2008


Do you think all these people are desperate to tote around an enormous lump of metal strapped to their chest or in their purse for the sheer erotic charge of it?

This is likely for a few of them, at least, statistically speaking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:09 AM on March 24, 2008


"I don't understand why the weapons have to be concealed. If they were in plane view I think a potential shooter might have second thoughts if he walked into a classroom and saw several students with weapons."
posted by Sailormom at 12:21 PM on March 24

More to the point, limiting the principle to CCW is to restrict defensive action to handguns, which wouldn't have dissuaded Charles Whitman. Those that are serious about personal defense on American campuses are going to want the ultimate streetsweeper, and if they are willing to tote the load visibly, they should be able to do so, as a matter of personal choice.
posted by paulsc at 10:10 AM on March 24, 2008


Wow, that gun has, like, two triggers. That's like walking around with two pairs of swinging balls, alright.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 AM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think this is a pretty lame FPP, although the blame really goes to the exceedingly lame linked article posted by Kadin 2048.

I blame the article, too.

And society.
posted by Kibbutz at 10:16 AM on March 24, 2008


I don't understand why the weapons have to be concealed. If they were in plane view I think a potential shooter might have second thoughts...

Those would be some big-ass guns, but the sight of a few howitzers probably would get a pistol-packing prospective murderer second thoughts.






Thoughts like: "Wow, I gotta get one of those!"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:18 AM on March 24, 2008


The M41A pulse rifle featured an under barrel grenade launcher, not a shotgun.

Fuckin' newb.
posted by butterstick at 10:19 AM on March 24, 2008


I find it somewhat bizarre that in many states its legal [1] to carry unconcealed shotguns, rifles, etc, that many will grant license to carry a concealed firearm, etc, yet somehow its still quite illegal to carry a sword or dagger and all the 2nd Amendment types don't have a problem with that. WTF?

[1] Though probably unadvisable.
posted by sotonohito at 10:21 AM on March 24, 2008


An armed society is a polite society (pick one): Bosnia, Albania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Western Pakistan, the Sudan, etc.
posted by psmealey at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why is the push not just for the right to own or carry guns, but for the right to have concealed carry? If having a gun is all about the right to protect yourself, why do you have to conceal it? What additional social good does that accomplish? If anything, being required to have your firearm visible when you are out and about with it seems like it would deter more crime.

The argument as I understand it is that by requiring that weapons be concealed, (a) you don't know who's carrying, so you're less likely to attack anyone (because there's a non-zero chance they might be armed) and (b) allowing non-concealed carry makes it harder to prosecute people for waving guns around threateningly. That is, by requiring that weapons be concealed, you make it possible to prosecute someone who whips out their gun as an idle threat.

I don't think firearms are a great idea in a populated environment like a college campus, but those arguments make a certain amount of sense to me.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 10:25 AM on March 24, 2008




If you arm everyone, more of those confrontations would become lethal.

Either that, or fewer of those confrontations would occur. I know I would be less likely to start a physical confrontation if my opponent were well armed. Even if I myself were also well armed, I'd think twice before messing with somebody who is carrying a gun.
posted by kidbritish at 10:30 AM on March 24, 2008


In case anyone's voting the issue, here are the candidates positions on gun control.


"Call me heathen, but I think having more guns on campus, in the hands of responsible and properly trained gun owners, would reduce the incidence and potentially the damage of these attacks."

Ok, guns are sorta a sensitive topic with me, so a couple of points.

First of all, how much training is enough? You're always hearing about Police, who train regularly, accidentally shoot the wrong individual in a fire fight. So how much training could we count on college students undertaking? They are at Uni to get a education, one that probably does not include marksmanship and (bringing me to second point), combat proficiency.

How many University students would be willing to undergo the constant and grueling training does it take to achieve combat proficiency in general, and with a firearm specifically? Typically, this covers not only the most effective way to drop someone and insure they'll stay down (two shots in the chest and one in the mouth, by the way) but also what to do if an assailant gets your weapon away - you've got a heartbeat (literally!), a very short period of time to react and recover the sidearm. This has to be drilled into you until second nature, and then, once acquired, the skill has to be constantly refreshed. So again, how many armed University students could be counted on to undergo this training, in addition to marksmanship? Oh! In addition to their book learning as well.

And finally, the aftermath of actually using the weapon. Assume the assailant is killed, brains smeared all over the floor. What is the mental aftermath - these are normal, University students, who have emerged from a life and death situation, where they took a life.

How will they deal with this? How much counseling is enough? When would it end, the guilt, perhaps rage that would be felt at being forced to take a life? And that's just the hero(ine). What about those caught up in the fire fight? Some folks can't take being in one of these harsh situations, even as a passive bystander witnessing a gun battle.

I've got some friends who are whacked out survivalists, living in cabins in the woods, gleefully waiting for "the end" so they can finally use their guns to defend themselves, and I always tell them this: if you're ever shot at, hear those rounds go whizzing past you knowing someone is trying to kill you, you'll rather quickly lose your stomach for such situations.

And if you ever kill someone with your gun, if you have to take a life, even in self defence, you'll then, perhaps only then realise that no, they don't respawn in thirty seconds, and no, the body doesn't magically disappear into the floor a minute later. You did it and you won't be able to tear your eyes away.

No that image isn't anything I'd wish on anybody.
posted by Mutant at 10:31 AM on March 24, 2008 [8 favorites]


Surely not? I'd always thought that America was full of people who wanted nothing more than to strap two six-shooters around their waist, just hoping somebody would have the nerve to try and beat them to the draw?

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic, which is sad. The non-American view of Americans (and the sophisticated, urban American view of unsophisticated, rural/suburban Americans) around here seems to run along these lines often enough, but of the numerous people that I know and interact with on a frequent basis, two aside from myself would qualify as "firearms enthusiasts," and none of us conforms to this image.

Most of the rest instead react with some mixture of alarm and disgust whenever the topic of firearms is broached. I really don't agree that U.S. culture is as firearms-friendly as is often assumed and stated around here. The lack of a total ban on firearms does not equate to wholeheartedly embracing daily whiskey-soaked shootouts.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:32 AM on March 24, 2008


We should arm all students with nuclear weapons. It's the only way to be sure of their safety.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:38 AM on March 24, 2008


So, here's what totally confuses me about the gun-control debate, particularly as it occurs in Virginia. Why is the push not just for the right to own or carry guns, but for the right to have concealed carry? If having a gun is all about the right to protect yourself, why do you have to conceal it? What additional social good does that accomplish? If anything, being required to have your firearm visible when you are out and about with it seems like it would deter more crime.

I am not pro gun but I understand the deterrence value of concealed carry. If criminals don't know who is armed the potential costs for any robbery go up. If they can see the gun they just shift to an unarmed target.

A visible weapon protects just you. A randomly armed society would all be protected somewhat.

[not that I am a gun advocate - that is just the logic i would use if I were]
posted by srboisvert at 10:40 AM on March 24, 2008


I use killer bees for personal defense. Guns are useless against killer bees. Plus: Mmmm, honey!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:43 AM on March 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


I am not pro gun but I understand the deterrence value of concealed carry. If criminals don't know who is armed the potential costs for any robbery go up.

Hmm. That makes a kind of sense to me, although it seems like piggybacking on the VA Tech tragedy is a pretty bad vehicle for making that appeal--I find it hard to believe that the shooter (or any spree killer) would be deterred by the potential person with a concealed weapon. After all, almost all the spree killers in school shootings expected to take their own lives before they started. Using that logic moves beyond "having a gun will allow a civilian to shoot someone before the carnage gets worse" (which is the argument trotted out in this and other school shootings to justify looser gun-control laws) to the value of arming people as a psychological deterrent to crime occurring at all--not only would crimes take a less violent toll, but there would be fewer crimes overall.

It seems like that claim would be amenable to study, in fact. I wonder if anyone has ever compared crime rates in states with different gun laws (concealed carry vs. open carry vs. you can have it at home but don't take it anywhere with you). I would think that a place like the NRA would be willing (eager, even) to fund that sort of analysis, and the fact that we haven't heard all about it makes me wonder if, like capital punishment, the deterrent value of concealed carry is less than its supporters hope it to be.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:50 AM on March 24, 2008




I wonder if anyone has ever compared crime rates in states with different gun laws (concealed carry vs. open carry vs. you can have it at home but don't take it anywhere with you). I would think that a place like the NRA would be willing (eager, even) to fund that sort of analysis, and the fact that we haven't heard all about it makes me wonder if, like capital punishment, the deterrent value of concealed carry is less than its supporters hope it to be.

There are no less than four kajillion studies on the effects of concealed carry on crime, by various pro-gun and pro-gun control groups. Both sides have their studies which support their position.

For a non-authoritative start, here's the Wikipedia article.

The way you phrased your question also shows how difficult it is to get a clear answer on this: if we did a cross-state comparison, what prevents someone from comparing a state with an already-high crime rate with lax gun control laws, vs a state with low crime but no guns in the first place? Or low crime, high gun ownership vs high crime, low gun ownership? How would you determine that the gun control laws were the reason? You might as well be (pointlessly) comparing the US and Japan, where culture plays a larger difference than any enacted gun law.
posted by meowzilla at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2008


There was a study from California out a few years back that looked at death rates among people who bought their first gun.
Violent events went way up - but it was almost all attributable to suicides. Guns equal successful suicide.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:18 AM on March 24, 2008


lolamericans ...
posted by scruss at 11:33 AM on March 24, 2008


And if you ever kill someone with your gun, if you have to take a life, even in self defence, you'll then, perhaps only then realise that no, they don't respawn in thirty seconds, and no, the body doesn't magically disappear into the floor a minute later. You did it and you won't be able to tear your eyes away.

I'm not the one with the reality-fantasy problem here.

I think anyone who is responsible and wants one should be able to be armed if they want to be. This in no sense means that I think everyone should be packing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:37 AM on March 24, 2008


The lack of a total ban on firearms does not equate to wholeheartedly embracing daily whiskey-soaked shootouts.

I dunno, man. All I can say, coming from outside America, from a society where firearm ownership is very, very rare (certainly for personal protection), is that threads like this and related ones on Metafilter and other sites read like something that's been faxed in from an alternate universe. All the talking points, "an armed society is a polite society", "things like this wouldn't happen if everyone had a gun", those terms like "concealed carry", the idea that people are free to carry a gun around in a coffee shop. It's bizarro world. I kinda try not to respond, because it feels like a whole bunch of people have taken opposite-pills and I would be interrupting some long and complex joke.
posted by Jimbob at 11:37 AM on March 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


meowzilla, thanks for the link. I suppose it makes sense that this has been studied a lot; I was assuming that they didn't exist because I so rarely hear anything from the NRA or other pro-gun groups about these types of laws being definitely shown to reduce crime, which it seems like they would trumpet to the skies.

Obviously, it's not an easy question to study, but it strikes me as one that is a bit easier than many other questions in the social sciences; you have quite a bit of variation between states in gun-control laws, so if you could craft a good enough regression to control for some of the confounding factors it seems do-able. Also, states that change their gun laws seem like natural little laboratories for testing this theory--looking to see whether crime rates dropped when states passed concealed-carry laws (particularly if a state went from open-carry to concealed carry).

I dunno. Perhaps it's my background (growing up in a rural area in a Western state), but it seems like these sorts of political arguments are the ones that could be helped the most by good, unbiased research into what the results of these laws have been. I'm pretty okay with people owning rifles in their homes, a bit less okay with handguns, and fairly anti-concealed-carry of handguns on campuses and in bars, but that's based on my not-very-educated perception that a higher number of handguns floating about probably make it more likely that people get shot, particularly in situations where impulse control might be lower than usual (read: when drinking, while 18 years old). It's a position based more on pragmatism--what's the best way to keep 15-year-olds from being shot in drive-bys? how do we keep some idiot from shooting another idiot over a dumb argument?--and I'd probably happily change my position if convinced that my perceptions were counter to the way it actually plays out in reality. My sense is that many pro-gun-control people are the same way; it's not guns themselves that are the problem, it's the results from having guns around that bothers them, and they'd probably be happy changing positions if it could be definitely shown that their fears were unjustified. (As opposed to something like abortion, where it's pretty bedrock-principle territory for most people, and no study will likely ever change someone's convictions).
posted by iminurmefi at 11:39 AM on March 24, 2008


Gun detectors (detection of metal and gunpowder) should be something we could put together right? I'm certain homeland security has the ability to cobble something like this together.

So, set up gun detectors all around campus (at every entrance to every building). Then set up a bunch of tasers (any kind of of taser/incapacitating device) that automatically disable a person that sets off the gun detector.

Problem solved.

Sure there would be some false positive incapacitations, but that's a price most people are probably willing to pay. (Further the whole reason you pick an incapacitating instrument like a taser is to minimize the effect of a false positive.) False negatives wouldn't put people at any more harm than not have detectors at all.
posted by oddman at 11:43 AM on March 24, 2008


This is beyond stupid. What will armed students do if some lunatic starts marching through campus firing haphazardly? Shoot back? Do you know how hard it is to actually hit a moving target.

This isn't Half-Life. There are no bounding boxes or collision detection algorithms. There's no floating cross-hair. Ther are no civilians in the background to watch out for, and no tort lawyers representing them.

Try this experiment. Get a laser pointer. Stand 20 yards away from a door or storefront that people are exiting. Pick a person walking out of the store, and momentarily depress the button to fire the laser. Try to put the red dot on them on your first shot. Did you miss? Lawsuit. Did you hit someone else? Prison and lawsuit. Keep tapping the button and see how long it takes before you get the dots on the person you want.

Now imagine that the people walking out are armed - if you are facing them they will see and shoot you. Walk sideways as try to get the dot on them. Go get 'em, Han Solo. Now, what percentage of your dots ended up on the asphalt or in the sky?

That's with a laser, unaffected by wind, gravity or recoil. A pistol at 20 yards might put two identically sighted bullets about 4 inches apart. So the first shot might wing him and the second shot kills the fleeing student behind him. Assuming you are a crack shot, with hundreds of hours of practice under your belt, it's going to take you many seconds to set up your first shot from a stationary position, and you have to watch the background and wait for your shot. He sees you and he sprays bullets, because he doesn't care about the background.

Finally, if you start shooting, someone might assume that you are the bad guy, and shoot you. But because you know you're the good guy, and you are watching the bad guy in front of you, you won't notice the other armed student shooting you in the back of the head at point blank range.

You are better off practicing throwing rocks.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:59 AM on March 24, 2008 [19 favorites]


it's not guns themselves that are the problem, it's the results from having guns around that bothers them, and they'd probably be happy changing positions if it could be definitely shown that their fears were unjustified.

Unless you're from somewhere guns hardly even exist at all, in which case the argument never really starts.

I mean, it's not suitcase nukes themselves that are the problem, it's the results from having suitcase nukes around that bothers them, and they'd probably be happy changing positions if it could be definitely shown that their fears were unjustified.

Sounds a bit weird, doesn't it? These arguments go on because the people having them are used to taking the prevalence of guns as a given. Gun control in the US seems to be framed as "taking guns away", while in other places, gun control is just the law, people didn't have guns to begin with, really, just like people don't walk around with blood-filled syringes or tanks of Sarin gas.

And that's where I don't feel I can say much more, because there is obviously some major difference between a society where guns are accepted as the norm, where you can buy them in department stores and carry them in coffee shops, and a society where anyone who owns a gun who isn't a farmer or has some other job requirement for it is treated with suspicion. And I can't cross that gap and understand what's going on, really.
posted by Jimbob at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I don't understand why the weapons have to be concealed. If they were in plane view I think a potential shooter might have second thoughts..."

Because these potential shooters have a totally rational thought process that leads them to shoot up a school.
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, aren't there already 3 guns for every American?
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:17 PM on March 24, 2008


This is beyond stupid. What will armed students do if some lunatic starts marching through campus firing haphazardly? Shoot back? Do you know how hard it is to actually hit a moving target.

This argument works both ways: a lunatic firing randomly at students fleeing in all directions would find it hard to hit anything.
posted by meowzilla at 12:46 PM on March 24, 2008


Try this experiment. Get a laser pointer. Stand 20 yards away from a door or storefront that people are exiting. Pick a person walking out of the store, and momentarily depress the button to fire the laser. Try to put the red dot on them on your first shot. Did you miss? Lawsuit. Did you hit someone else? Prison and lawsuit. Keep tapping the button and see how long it takes before you get the dots on the person you want.

I'm pretty sure that just doing this with a laser pointer is enough to get you arrested in some states.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:53 PM on March 24, 2008


Incidentally, aren't there already 3 guns for every American?

That may be a true average, but I suspect that the whackjobs on the side of having many many guns skew the numbers for those of us who have none. I'm pretty sure guns are like tattoos and potato chips. You can't stop at just one.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:56 PM on March 24, 2008


A US Airways pilot accidentally discharged his gun in the cockpit during a flight from Denver to Charlotte, N.C., according to the Transportation Safety Administration.

The pilot, who both the TSA and US Airways declined to identify, was a member of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, an initiative put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The initiative allows authorized members of cockpit crews to carry weapons on board.

"There are thousands of federal flight deck officers and this has never happened before," said the spokesperson. "This was probably a bit of a fluke."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2008


So what you're saying is, because you can't be trusted no one else can, either?

So what you're saying, because you can be trusted everyone else can too?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:14 PM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that democracy is fundamentally based on the idea that people can be trusted to do the right thing, and the whole reason we have a criminal justice system is to deal with them when they don't.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:33 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Besides, the idea that relaxing restrictions means an automatic orgy of violence is absurd. When Ohio removed all local restrictions (meaning the whole state operates under federal-level restrictions only, and it's a "shall issue" CCW state to boot), Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati didn't suddenly become unlivable hellholes. Well, no more than they were already, I guess.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:39 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"It seems to me that democracy is fundamentally based on the idea that people can be trusted to do the right thing, and the whole reason we have a criminal justice system is to deal with them when they don't."

No, democracy is fundamentally based on the idea that it's the least-worst way to organize a group of people to look out for their best interests.
posted by klangklangston at 1:51 PM on March 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is the first time you guys have heard this argument? It was a standard issue dipshit talking point in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings. See, the thing you have to understand about the really extreme gun enthusiasts is they're impotent. They all have a shared sexual fantasy, the ultimate fantasy of the gun freak: someday they will be the victim of a home invasion robbery or a carjacking or whatever is most titillating to them, at which point they produce their ludicrously overpowered hand-cannon and dispatch whatever racial caricature they've imagined and become the big hero. This is what they buy all the guns for, this is what you can translate "I own guns to protect my home" as. It's what they dedicate their whole lives to. The idea of some crazed murderer showing up and 20 armed people, including them in their fantasies, drawing and firing on him is like a bukkake to them. It's like a power-exerting S&M fantasy. "People need to protect themselves" is just a cover for the impotent sex fantasy, because they know as well as anyone that crazed murderous spree killers and home invasion robberies and whatever else they fantasize about is highly unlikely to happen to them. Instead of issuing everyone firearms, which anyone who isn't clouded by impotent sexual fantasies can plainly see is moronic, the subscriber lists of Guns & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, etc. should be issued Vigara and therapy.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:54 PM on March 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm just saddened by the fact that someone can possibly be raised up to have such ideas in his head and think it is right. I am sure despite the stink of self profit generation in his voice, I would imagine he and others like him genuinely believe that the only way a person will be safe is to carry deadly weapons around, since its a game of kill or be killed.

Can you imagine the kind of people the universities would attract if they were to pass such laws?
posted by insatiablehee at 2:00 PM on March 24, 2008


Let people carry their weapons but they must be fully visible, strapped to their leg like Wyatt Earp. Then we all know who the stupid people are and we can avoid them. Concealed weapons just keep you guessing about the idiots. Either that or else when you get a concealed carry permit you get "Stupid" tattooed on your forehead. Either way works for me.
posted by JackFlash at 2:01 PM on March 24, 2008


DecemberBoy--your theory jibes perfectly with the whole "Empty Holster" thing.
posted by Kibbutz at 2:03 PM on March 24, 2008


Or, to expand:

Our society (most societies) is based on a compromise between letting people do whatever the hell they want and the chaos that results (see: Nature, state of). Too much restraint and people are unhappy (or rebel). Not enough restraint, and people are unhappy (and society collapses).

But to say that people can be trusted to do the right thing, and then saying that we have a criminal justice system to address when they don't, is begging the question regarding what we decide constitutes the "wrong" thing, and seems to fly in the face of any practical appraisal of human behavior: the fundamental fact is that some people cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and that we have a criminal justice system to address that.

And, and here's the more salient point, we decide as a society what things are "wrong," and how much of a risk we're willing to take regarding the consequences of that "wrong" behavior and the ability to prevent/punish it.

There is an ongoing debate in this country about whether firearms ownership constitutes an acceptable risk to society.

A similar debate could be found regarding pollution. Here, most people realize that we can't simply trust businesses to dispose of their waste in a environmentally-responsible manner, so we regulate it. Once regulation has been decided upon, then it becomes a debate of extent: how much we impact people's right to do what they please with their property versus how much of a risk to the rest of society those people's use of their property constitutes.
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on March 24, 2008


An armed society is a polite society (pick one): Bosnia, Albania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Western Pakistan, the Sudan, etc.
posted by psmealey


As a matter of fact, Iraq was a very polite society. Of course that was prior to our invasion. By fifteen years. I don't know if mefites realize it, but Iraq's medical and engineering universities were first class and chock full of Europeans during the 80's and even the 90's during the embargo. As long as you didn't badmouth S. H. all was cool.

Back to guns. Notreally
posted by notreally at 2:23 PM on March 24, 2008


I have no clue how to link. But here goes.
posted by notreally at 2:28 PM on March 24, 2008


There doesn't seem to me to be any practical difference between my formulation and, "the fundamental fact is that some people cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and that we have a criminal justice system to address that."

You're right, I built a fair number of assumptions into my statement, but the shared delusion among the anti-gun crowd seems to be that in the absence of strict, harsh gun laws, people will go around popping off rounds left and right for every little irritation, which (aside from being ridiculous) I think we can universally agree is "doing the wrong thing".

They all have a shared sexual fantasy...This is what they buy all the guns for

Let people carry their weapons but they must be fully visible, strapped to their leg like Wyatt Earp. Then we all know who the stupid people are and we can avoid them. Concealed weapons just keep you guessing about the idiots. Either that or else when you get a concealed carry permit you get "Stupid" tattooed on your forehead. Either way works for me.

This is the kind of shit I am talking about and which makes it so hard to have a conversation with anti-gun zealots.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:33 PM on March 24, 2008


I'm usually not a fan of the "both sides are just as dumb" argument, since I think it's usually a way of avoiding making judgements, but the gun debate pushes me toward it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2008


Oh, and as far as the pollution thing, I don't think you can make a serious argument that firearms in the hands of private citizens present anything like the grave, immediate and lasting health hazard that unregulated industry does. The one clearly cries out for regulation. The other...I don't think there's much of a middle ground. You'll probably reduce gun deaths significantly if you ban them all, but anything less than that seems like jerking off to me.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2008


Why is the push not just for the right to own or carry guns, but for the right to have concealed carry?

Imagine you are a criminal. You walk into a store/bar/whereever. You see a gun on the side of one individual, the rest are unarmed. Who do you shoot first? The one you can see is armed.

As far as many people on this thread repeating "18 year olds with concealed weapons" most states require anyone with a concealed handgun permit to be 21 years of age, not 18.

Try this experiment. Get a laser pointer. Stand 20 yards away from a door or storefront that people are exiting. Pick a person walking out of the store, and momentarily depress the button to fire the laser. Try to put the red dot on them on your first shot.

I know I could do that, but, then again, I have trained and practiced to shoot handguns. As do the majority of private citizens who own guns. In fact, police officers miss more often in shootings than private citizens defending themselves do. Why? Police officers shoot just enough to requalify most of the time as there is inadequate training funds for practice ammunition and range time.

Do I think that arming all college students is a good idea? Nope, but, that isn't what this group is trying to do, they are actually trying to allow those who are already legal concealed handgun permit holders to be allowed to carry on campus.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:44 PM on March 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Besides, the idea that relaxing restrictions means an automatic orgy of violence is absurd.

This cannot be repeated enough. There are over 223 million guns in the US -- we have nearly as many guns as we have citizens -- and about 65 million of them are handguns. A little less than half of US households (and about 25% of all US adults) own at least one gun, and yet only about 30,000 people are killed by them per year, and more than half of those are suicides. Clearly, the vast, vast majority of guns do not kill anyone, and exposure to guns is not enough, in and of itself, to cause violence.

IMHO, it's rather obvious that a War on Drugs style gun ban would cause more problems than it would solve. Criminalizing 25% of the country in order to save 30,000 lives is a terrible trade-off -- if saving lives is really the issue, we'd do much better if we built a huge public transportation network and then banned cars. Those who are frothing at the mouth over this issue ought to get some perspective: even with our "stupid Wyatt Earp society", an American is significantly more likely to die from falling than from gunshot. Funny, but I don't see too many Moms for Everyday Helmets think-tanks.

As far as I can tell, the "gun control debate" in this country serves merely to distract from the actual issue -- that is to say, the problem is violence, not guns! Rather than myopically concentrating on the instrument used, both sides of the gun debate could probably benefit from some realistic, holistic thinking about ways to mitigate the root causes of violence.
posted by vorfeed at 2:50 PM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is the kind of shit I am talking about and which makes it so hard to have a conversation with anti-gun zealots.

You misunderstand. I'm not interested in having a conversation. I just want to know who the gun nuts are so I can avoid them. Seems to me, if you believe so strongly in your right to carry a gun you should be willing to do it openly. I'm fine with that. Seriously.
posted by JackFlash at 2:52 PM on March 24, 2008


You never know, you might like me. :(
posted by adamdschneider at 3:03 PM on March 24, 2008


here's something i've always wondered: suppose instead of banning guns, we got the folks who wanted to have them to start being more careful with them.

if only there were some organization of gun advocates who were interested in gun safety.

in other news, here is what's going on in western pennsylvania today.
posted by stubby phillips at 3:16 PM on March 24, 2008


(not my bold, btw)
posted by stubby phillips at 3:18 PM on March 24, 2008


All I can say, coming from outside America, from a society where firearm ownership is very, very rare (certainly for personal protection), is that threads like this and related ones on Metafilter and other sites read like something that's been faxed in from an alternate universe.

This. Add to it all the talk of that extensive legal process. "Well, he had a background check." So we know he hasn't, say, been convicted for armed robbery. So let's give him the power that in many places only police wield. How about a battery of psych tests?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:24 PM on March 24, 2008


I know my thoughts on this issue are terribly simplistic but I think this country would be better off without any guns. However, that scenario is never going to happen short of the NRA dystopian fantasy of H. Clinton, president for life, going around taking everyone's pieces. Therefore, it is a good thing that some balance can be achieved by having good and responsible people armed.

The process for getting a conceal-carry permit in my state creates some interesting psychological barriers. The process is not difficult but it is time-consuming with a financial commitment large enough to make most middle class folks notice. Once obtained, the permit can be revoked for a large number of reasons and once revoked, it's very difficult to get it again. As a result, the weapons carriers tend to be very careful and very mindful of the myriad rules. To be reckless could result in a lifetime ban from carrying and this leads the gun owners I know to be cautious almost to a ridiculous level.

An additional barrier is created by the laws surrounding the use of the gun in self-defense. Every conceal-carry training class will go over these laws in great detail and will warn the students that any use of the gun will lead to an automatic arrest and investigation. Any altercation where self-defense is not perfectly clear will lead to charges. Use of the gun is only for worst-case scenarios where the risk of prison is preferable to the alternatives.
posted by pandaharma at 3:25 PM on March 24, 2008


It seems to me that democracy is fundamentally based on the idea that people can be trusted to do the right thing, and the whole reason we have a criminal justice system is to deal with them when they don't.

I thought democracy was fundamentally based on the theory that people are stupid and selfish creatures that cannot be trusted to make my decisions for me, and so, if a decision is to be made, I must have a vote in it. That right to vote is extended to other people, because I am, in all likelihood, also stupid and selfish, at least in their dim, plodding opinions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:27 PM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


“What will armed students do if some lunatic starts marching through campus firing haphazardly... Do you know how hard it is to actually hit a moving target.”

Actually most fire isn’t targeted, but suppressive.
(Watch, I’ll get another argument on this from some half wit who’s never been in a firefight)
So the general idea is to shoot at the other guy, watch your background and interfere with the aggressor getting his shots off.
Of course, it’s not perfect.
And you’re right generally - logically they should run, dodge and weave, take cover (like everyone else is supposed to be doing). If you don’t have that option - that’s where you return fire and try to keep him from shooting by making him run, dodge, weave and take cover.

“So again, how many armed University students could be counted on to undergo this training, in addition to marksmanship?”

That’d probably be a plus. You weed out the folks who don’t really want it.
But training in firearms is far far more valuable than the firearm itself.
Too many people think (conceptually on either side of the gun control argument and more importanly in the moment when a firearm is displaed) that a gun is the end all be all of interpersonal violence. Oh, it’s dangerous.
But look at the two guys who rushed, and dropped, the dude with the AK-47 on the White House mall.
If you’re trained, and not crazy-panic afraid of firearms, odds are you’re going to react better and more appropriately. Whether that means running, taking cover, or rushing and tacking the guy when he tries to reload.

I have to say I lean toward concealed carry (why there would be a legal difference in terms of place I’m not sure, but if you want to have to check in with the campus police because it’s their jurisdiction, that’s fine), but I think the oversight, training, and accountability for that should be more stringent.
Goes without saying you disregard the position of someone with a vested interest in the sales of firearms.

“I don't think you can make a serious argument that firearms in the hands of private citizens present anything like the grave, immediate and lasting health hazard that unregulated industry does.”

Not in terms of firearms themselves. But a lot of casual shooters are still using lead for practice. The FBI out here uses lead and a berm backstop just before Lake Michigan and some of the bullets (or fragments) go into the lake. Irritating. A lot of other agencies have gone to iron for practice rounds and are pretty scrupulous about their environmental signature. Serious hunters are pretty fanatic about it (always a few idiots in every crowd).
posted by Smedleyman at 3:39 PM on March 24, 2008


"There doesn't seem to me to be any practical difference between my formulation and, "the fundamental fact is that some people cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and that we have a criminal justice system to address that.""

Then you don't get to play the political science game.

Differences: Mine made sense, had a coherent negative conception of liberty, didn't assume definitions of "right," and the two clauses followed from each other. More to the poli-sci point, yours assumed that society has no role in designating right from wrong.

"You're right, I built a fair number of assumptions into my statement, but the shared delusion among the anti-gun crowd seems to be that in the absence of strict, harsh gun laws, people will go around popping off rounds left and right for every little irritation, which (aside from being ridiculous) I think we can universally agree is "doing the wrong thing"."

Aside from the straw-man here, you're forgetting that there are many more options for "doing the wrong thing" with a gun than just popping off rounds left and right at any irritation. Oh, and you've forgotten that gun rights are never absolute and are always negotiated within society.

"Oh, and as far as the pollution thing, I don't think you can make a serious argument that firearms in the hands of private citizens present anything like the grave, immediate and lasting health hazard that unregulated industry does. The one clearly cries out for regulation. The other...I don't think there's much of a middle ground. You'll probably reduce gun deaths significantly if you ban them all, but anything less than that seems like jerking off to me."

How about the grave threat that even some regulated industry poses? Because the firearms industry is regulated, as is general industry, and there are still dangers like dioxin poisoning. I also think that you're going to have a hard time arguing that an unregulated firearms industry is very much unlike any other unregulated industry. Since you've posed yourself a false dichotomy there in the idea that there's no middle ground between banning and no gun regulation at all, I suppose you have to support a total ban.

I'm glad to have clarified your position for you.
posted by klangklangston at 4:07 PM on March 24, 2008


So what you're saying is, because you can't be trusted no one else can, either?

That's not the problem. The problem is that everybody would need to be trusted. I wouldn't trust 50% of college students to be concealed carriers, much less 100% of them.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:09 PM on March 24, 2008


Instead of concealed carry, couldn't you just place a loaded gun behind a pane of safety glass every twenty or so yards indoors? That way, if there is an emergency that truly warrants it, the nearest safety marshall or good samaritan could break the glass and use it to defend the peace. Little safety armories could become part of the building code, like fire extinguishers, with large signs letting everyone know where to find the nearest ammo cache. Think of the safety drills.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:33 PM on March 24, 2008


The Make Life More Like First-Person Shooters Society firmly supports that proposal, Ceribus.
posted by klangklangston at 4:50 PM on March 24, 2008


Hazmat suits. Don't forget hazmat suits.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:54 PM on March 24, 2008


While we're at it, let's give nukes to every nation as a deterrent.

It's not like the students who perpetrate these shootings aren't intent on killing themselves at the end anyway. What is this possible supposed to accomplish except for selling more firearms to people who, for the most part, aren't prepared to weild that kind of power?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:02 PM on March 24, 2008


klangklangston:I guess I'll go in reverse order.

My statement regarding the either/or of regulation was hastily dashed off and in retrospect ill-conceived. It was intended to express my belief that the sort of legislation we have now does little or nothing to significantly reduce the number of gun deaths per year. However, you seem to have misconstrued my statement. I am not in any way arguing for deregulation of the firearms industry, but for deregulation of the private ownership of the firearms produced by that industry. I have no more desire for firearms manufacturers to be able to pollute with impunity than I do for, say, motherboard manufacturers. It seems a little odd for you to interpret it that way, since we were talking about firearms ownership and not manufacturing. You brought in industry as an example of regulation, but that doesn't shift the conversation to the making of the firearms in question, the processes of which ought to be as regulated as those of any similar business.

I don't think it's a straw man. Some people (including people on this very site!) seem to actually believe this is what would happen. I don't see how you can think I've forgotten that gun rights aren't "absolute". I never said they were.

Now that you mention it, I do see a kind of difference. However, I maintain that our system presupposes that people can be trusted to do (yes, of course, what we as society determine is the) right thing. Our criminal justice system doesn't operate on the assumption, speaking generally, that some people cannot be trusted, it operates--ideally--by dealing with those who have done something wrong, and the difference seems fundamental to me. Innocent until proven guilty? Trustworthy until you do something that requires intervention on behalf of the society that trusted you.


The problem is that everybody would need to be trusted.

Yes, and unless we're prepared to act as if no one can, I think this is exactly what we need to do, at least until certain people demonstrate that they can't be trusted by committing certain crimes. I would not oppose licensing requirements that made people go through a driver's ed like program. I do oppose out and out bans.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:24 PM on March 24, 2008


"My statement regarding the either/or of regulation was hastily dashed off and in retrospect ill-conceived. It was intended to express my belief that the sort of legislation we have now does little or nothing to significantly reduce the number of gun deaths per year. However, you seem to have misconstrued my statement. I am not in any way arguing for deregulation of the firearms industry, but for deregulation of the private ownership of the firearms produced by that industry. I have no more desire for firearms manufacturers to be able to pollute with impunity than I do for, say, motherboard manufacturers. It seems a little odd for you to interpret it that way, since we were talking about firearms ownership and not manufacturing. You brought in industry as an example of regulation, but that doesn't shift the conversation to the making of the firearms in question, the processes of which ought to be as regulated as those of any similar business."

You've misconstrued me: Firearms ownership will, inevitably, lead to some people being killed wrongly. Firearms regulation is an attempt to mitigate that risk. Manufacturing motherboards, or many other products, leads to a de facto increase in environmental toxins. Regulations are an attempt to mitigate that risk.

Are you against prohibiting the mentally ill from owning guns? Or felons? Or preventing regular people from owning chemical weapons or explosives?

If not, you find yourself at odds with the prevailing social calculus, and rightly bear the burden of presenting unfettered access as favorable. If not, you agree that some regulation is necessary (and that you understand this when it comes to industry but not guns is baffling). Again, it's you who have argued that there should be no middle ground between unrestricted access and a total ban—I'm just striving to show that you're inconsistent regarding your support for absolute liberty.

"Now that you mention it, I do see a kind of difference. However, I maintain that our system presupposes that people can be trusted to do (yes, of course, what we as society determine is the) right thing. Our criminal justice system doesn't operate on the assumption, speaking generally, that some people cannot be trusted, it operates--ideally--by dealing with those who have done something wrong, and the difference seems fundamental to me. Innocent until proven guilty? Trustworthy until you do something that requires intervention on behalf of the society that trusted you."

The very existence of a criminal justice system presupposes that some people cannot be trusted. This is borne out by the continued usage of said system. That people are presumed innocent is a bulwark against governmental abuse, not a statement on the moral character of Americans.

And the fundamental point is that we have decided that some things are too dangerous, too risky, for society as a whole, to trust that everyone will behave responsibly with them.

It is at this point that a serious argument one way or another should include data, but the very convoluted nature of gun policy in America makes real, irrefutable data near impossible.
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, just in from The AP:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A relative of a Virginia Tech shooting
victim says the state has offered families of the 32 killed
$100,000 each in an attempt to avoid lawsuits.
posted by etaoin at 6:33 PM on March 24, 2008


In the documented case when responsible gun owners had their weapons at hand and a shooter showed up things actually worked out pretty well.. See also the incident at the Colorado megachurch last year.
posted by humanfont at 7:55 PM on March 24, 2008


> That's not the problem. The problem is that everybody would need to be trusted. I wouldn't trust 50% of college students to be concealed carriers, much less 100% of them.

I guess it's a good thing then that nobody is proposing giving guns to 100% of college students.

The request is merely to allow those people who have gone through the (expensive, time-consuming, obnoxiously bureaucratic) permitting process and have concealed-carry permits, and who also happen to be college students, to carry them on campus just as they can in other public places.

I doubt that the percentage of college students who would be interested enough in carrying a weapon to go through that process is substantially higher than the percentage of people in society as a whole. (I'm having trouble finding a citation but I recall seeing that most CCW states have only a few percent or fractions of a percent of the population with permits.) In fact, for financial and time-commitment reasons alone, the percentage of college students who would bother to get permits would probably be far lower than average.

To a certain extent, the whole argument is a tempest in a teacup: even at a big university you're probably only talking about a few dozen people at most, with perhaps some fluctuation if it's a school with a lot of adult or prior military service students.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:19 PM on March 24, 2008


Nobody needs a hand gun, unless killing other people is something you see yourself needing to do in the near future. And really, If you need to kill someone you should do it the old fashioned way, with a hammer, god damn it.
posted by chunking express at 8:35 PM on March 24, 2008


it's an elimination of the law that bars people who already have state-issued concealed-carry permits from carrying on public university campuses,

You know, what really gets me about this is.... say you're a crazed shooter, mad with jealous rage, and you're going to the school to kill your cheating lover and any other poor bastard you see.

Do these lawmakers think you'll suddenly, like, change your mind? "Oh, crap! Concealed carry on campus is illegal. Dammit! No murder for me today."

Man, that could ruin a psychopath's whole day.
posted by Malor at 10:08 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a story about one of your less-well-trained gun owners.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:41 AM on March 25, 2008


Do these lawmakers think you'll suddenly, like, change your mind? "Oh, crap! Concealed carry on campus is illegal. Dammit! No murder for me today."

No one thinks this. We're just not convinced that the benefits (being able to shoot the occasional crazed shooter) outweigh the costs (idiot college kids - I'm a college kid, too, by the way - with walking around with guns).
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:43 AM on March 25, 2008



SuzySmith -- "I know I could do that, but, then again, I have trained and practiced to shoot handguns. As do the majority of private citizens who own guns. In fact, police officers miss more often in shootings than private citizens defending themselves do. Why? Police officers shoot just enough to requalify most of the time as there is inadequate training funds for practice ammunition and range time."

Are you really representing that private citizens are more skilled than Police Officers?

I might suggest that your average Police Officer, depending upon, of course, where they serve, may have dozens if not hundreds of opportunities to engage in a fire fight during their careers. And, of course, chances to, as you've put it "miss more often in shootings than private citizens defending themselves do."

Let's seque off debating how accurate Private Citizens are compared to Police Officers; the Founding Fathers phrased the Second Amendment as - "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country;"

How many Private Citizens owning guns belong to a militia? I don't have the data - if you do please share - but I'd be surprised if the total were larger than single digit percentages.

Civilized people don't walk about with rapiers, daggers, battle hammers or other weapons from the seventeenth century these days; what good reason is there for us to arbitrarily accept firearms, other than a well funded and vocal group - by some accounts the most powerful lobbing organisation in the United States - have been pushing their self interests above the common good since 1934?
posted by Mutant at 8:12 AM on March 25, 2008


about 25% of all US adults own at least one gun, and yet only about 30,000 people are killed by them per year.

"Only" 30,000 people?!!?

Criminalizing 25% of the country in order to save 30,000 lives is a terrible trade-off -- if saving lives is really the issue, we'd do much better if we built a huge public transportation network and then banned cars.

You can't be serious. Please tell me you're joking.

You people criminalize 10% of the country as drug users in order to save 0 lives every year (in fact, it's almost certainly the case that lives would be saved if drugs were decriminalized). You invaded another country and caused a million deaths, over 3000 lives lost, once.

if saving lives is really the issue, we'd do much better if we built a huge public transportation network and then banned cars.

Perhaps this is some joke and I'm missing it. If I thought you were serious, I'd point to the fact that there are tons of places where you'd like to live that don't allow you to own guns but not one that prohibits car ownership; that if you live in a rural area, the statement, "I couldn't live here without a car" is probably literally true; that the cost of covering the United States with public transport (not that it isn't a good idea in some ways) would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars if not more.

The fact that you can say "only 30,000 Americans are killed by guns every year," and mean it, should trigger some sort of self-examination. 30,000 people! That's like killing every single person you've ever met, and their whole families. That's almost ten times as many people who die in fires every year!

Put another way, I could jam 100 corpses into my apartment; there are perhaps some 300 units in my block; so that's equivalent to each home on my block being jammed full of corpses, every year. Imagine what 100 corpses of people killed by weapons would look like in your house... now imagine every house you can see when you look out the door also jammed full of gunshot victims.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:04 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Nobody needs a hand gun, unless killing other people is something you see yourself needing to do in the near future...”

Do the police need hand guns?

“We're just not convinced that the benefits (being able to shoot the occasional crazed shooter) outweigh the costs (idiot college kids - I'm a college kid, too, by the way - with walking around with guns).”

Again - and it’s been pointed out and pretty much belabored - that’s not the argument. I myself am not 100% on board with the actual argument (I can see having someone with a concealed carry permit having to check in with campus police - which are in many cases a department unto themselves and their own jurisdiction) but the actual position is having concealed carry permits - which are granted already statewide - not be invalidated on college campuses.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:13 AM on March 25, 2008


"Only" 30,000 people?!!?

"For 2007, an estimated 1,444,920 new cases of cancer are expected, along with 559,650 cancer deaths." (source)

"There were 113,000 accidental deaths in 2005. The all-time high of 116,385 accidental deaths, set in 1969." (source)
posted by Dave Faris at 10:45 AM on March 25, 2008


You people criminalize 10% of the country as drug users in order to save 0 lives every year (in fact, it's almost certainly the case that lives would be saved if drugs were decriminalized). You invaded another country and caused a million deaths, over 3000 lives lost, once.

Well, yes, but I think those things are bad. Naturally, I also think a gun ban would be bad. I'd be interested to hear you explain why your opinion is not similarly consistent. Why do you think screwing over hundreds of millions of people to "save" a few thousand would be OK in the case of gun control, but not in the other cases you mentioned above?

If I thought you were serious, I'd point to the fact that there are tons of places where you'd like to live that don't allow you to own guns but not one that prohibits car ownership; that if you live in a rural area, the statement, "I couldn't live here without a car" is probably literally true; that the cost of covering the United States with public transport (not that it isn't a good idea in some ways) would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars if not more.

And if I thought you were serious, I'd point to the fact that there are tons of places where you'd like to live where people use guns, including handguns, in their daily lives (mainly the same rural areas you claim to care so much about). I'd also mention that the cost of covering the US with public transport, while significant, would probably not be more than the cost of a long-term, draconian crackdown on guns. The Drug War has already cost us "hundreds of billions of dollars if not more" -- more than 50 billion per year, not counting the many hidden costs -- and that's for zero return. I'd say a massive public infrastructure effort makes a lot more sense than another War on Something, especially Something that would give the government an excuse to lock up half of American households.

The fact that you can say "only 30,000 Americans are killed by guns every year," and mean it, should trigger some sort of self-examination. 30,000 people! That's like killing every single person you've ever met, and their whole families. That's almost ten times as many people who die in fires every year!

It's also a number that is not particularly significant when compared to many other common causes of death, and especially to the number of guns in this country. Dividing 223 million into 30K gets you .000134529 -- that is the percentage of guns in this country which kill people per year. It's less than a thousandth of 1%. And before you say it, the number for handguns isn't significant, either (.000461538). If you really think it's a good idea to criminalize 25% of the country, thus removing all oversight into the gun trade, all to take care of a problem that affects far fewer than 1% of said guns, I'd say you need some sort of self-examination.

I seriously don't get how someone can understand the problems involved with the Drug War, and simultaneously miss the identical problems a Gun War would cause. Here's a hint: if you like the idea of gun registration or licensing, safety training, or background checks, you shouldn't be in favor of strong gun control. All of those things will go away once the easiest place for Average Joe and Jane to buy a gun is from their local pusher. And believe me, millions of people will continue to buy and shoot guns in this country, legal or not. I don't think driving up to 25% of our citizens into criminality and the black market makes any sense; not socially, not constitutionally, not economically.

Read my post again -- I'm not saying that it's great to lose 30K people a year, I'm saying that banning guns isn't the way to change it. Just as with drugs, the problem is not with an inanimate object that must be banned, it's with people who make dangerous choices. And, just as with drugs, the vast majority of those who use guns (and, in fact, even the majority of those who kill with guns, i.e. suicides) do not commit violence against others. Personally, I think helping non-violent people to stay that way is a better solution than preemptively criminalizing them.

Strong gun control will not work in America. Not now, and not in the foreseeable future. Anybody who thinks it will should do some research on the subject, think hard about the sheer size of the numbers involved, and then start finding a more realistic and effective way to deal with the problem of violence.
posted by vorfeed at 11:16 AM on March 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


A friend just pointed out that I forgot to multiply by 100 to get a percentage out of the numbers I posted earlier -- they should be .0134529% and .0461538%. My mistake. Please feel free to insert these numbers for those above, and "barely a hundredth of a percent" for "less than a thousanth of a percent".
posted by vorfeed at 11:35 AM on March 25, 2008


i wish there were a defensive weapon as powerful as a gun. all of this pointless argument would be moot.

oh, wait. all of this pointless argument is already moot.

still, gimme a herkimer battle jitney every time.
posted by stubby phillips at 4:55 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]



Are you really representing that private citizens are more skilled than Police Officers?


That is exactly what I am saying. Overall, people with concealed handgun permits are more skilled at shooting in self defense than police officers. It has been studied. The percentages are that cops miss more than private citizens. Again, due to a lack of funding for the officers to shoot regularly.


I might suggest that your average Police Officer, depending upon, of course, where they serve, may have dozens if not hundreds of opportunities to engage in a fire fight during their careers. And, of course, chances to, as you've put it "miss more often in shootings than private citizens defending themselves do."


Percentages. It is even worse if they have been involved in firefights multiple times and are still hitting at a smaller percentage than a private citizen. Not, that I believe most officers have dozens or hundreds of times that they actually fire their sidearm.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:34 PM on March 25, 2008


This story doesn't say whether the man had a concealed-carry license, but it definitely supports the "everything looks like a nail" theory.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:57 AM on March 26, 2008


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