(with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel)
Markadelphia dropped this in a comment on the post about the school shooting in Portsmith Ohio:
So, there were guns there and nothing could be done to stop it. Having people armed in schools will prevent nothing. While I think that if many people here were armed in a school would be responsible, most Americans, unlike Israelis, are fucking morons who jump at their own shadow and would probably shoot someone by accident. Simply put, I don't trust most American and I don't think you do either, Kevin, as evidenced by your writings.Let us parse:
So, there were guns there and nothing could be done to stop it.Really? You again exhibit your God-like powers of prescience and prognostication. Wherever do you find those? Is there a pill?
Having people armed in schools will prevent nothing.Is that so? Well it is difficult to "prove a negative." The probability that such an incident doesn't happen because a gunman was dissuaded due to the fact that one of his victims might shoot back (or first) is, admittedly, impossible to calculate. Oregon school teacher Shirley Katz seems to believe with a weapon she could prevent her ex-husband from doing something unpleasant to her (since restraining orders are essentially tissue paper and she knows it), but the law requires her to be a disarmed target while she's at work.
Just like Christi Layne.
However, it's never really been that much about prevention, Markadelphia, it's been about attenuation. Only two things will stop a rampage shooter - either he (or she) decides they're done, or someone with a gun stops them.
As Tam put it so eloquently after the Montreal college shooting in 2006:
I ain't goin' out like that. Whether it's some Columbine wannabe who's heard the backward-masked messages on his Marilyn Manson discs, distressed daytrader off his Prozac, homegrown Hadji sympathetic with his oppressed brothers in Baghdad, or a bugnuts whackjob picking up Robert Frost quotes transmitted from Langley on the fillings in his molars, I am going to do my level best to smoke that goblin before my carcass goes on the pile. I am not going to go out curled into a fetal ball and praying for help that won't arrive in time.Help in this case didn't arrive in time to stop the shooter before he decided he was finished, nor did it in the Baton Rouge shooting yesterday, but it did in the City Hall shooting in Missouri. There's no way to know how many people Charles Lee 'Cookie' Thornton intended to kill before he decided he was finished, is there?
Even if the police are right there, it might not do me any good. Heck, I might not do me any good. But, dammit, I am going to try. If a 51 year-old nurse can overcome a hammer-wielding psycho with her bare hands, the least I can do is go out on my feet. I'm not going to wait for the coup de grace under a desk; I'm not going get in the abductor's car; I'm not going to comply with their demands; I'm not going gently.
But now we get to the heart of the matter:
While I think that if many people here were armed in a school would be responsible, most Americans, unlike Israelis, are fucking morons who jump at their own shadow and would probably shoot someone by accident. Simply put, I don't trust most American and I don't think you do either, Kevin, as evidenced by your writings.Then you've not been reading what I've been writing. (There's a surprise.)
Prior to Florida starting the current trend in 1987, there were eight "shall-issue" states, where citizens who applied for a CCW permit and who passed a background check and a minor licensing requirement had to be issued a permit. It was not at the discretion of local law enforcement to deny. Vermont has always been a "no permit required" state. Seventeen states were "no issue" - you couldn't get a CCW at all. Since then the number of "shall issue" states has increased to 37, Alaska has joined Vermont in not requiring a permit, and only two states remain "no issue."
In each of the states where "shall issue" is the law, approximately 1-3% of the eligible population jumps through the relatively minor hoops in order to get a permit. The number of people who actually carry is unknown. What we do know is that those people are remarkably law-abiding. They are much less likely to be arrested for anything than the general population.
In point of fact, they do not "jump at their own shadow" or "shoot someone by accident" - at least if they do shoot someone by accident, it's at rates far below those of police officers. It is a fact that the worst thing you can say about "shall issue" concealed-carry legislation is that it might not have contributed to the decline in violent crime during the same period. In state after state, opponents to the laws have had to admit that none of the "blood in the streets" and "shootouts over fender-bender" fearmongering came true.
You're right, Markadelphia, I don't trust "most Americans," and with reason. Apparently "most Americans" are like you. But I do trust those who get CCW permits far above and beyond "most Americans" because - for the overwhelming majority - they've given thought to their own protection, and understand that the police can't be everywhere, all the time. They are connected to reality in a way "most Americans" really aren't.
And if you're interested in the efficacy of concealed carry, I suggest you peruse the archives of Clayton Cramer's Civilian Gun Self-Defense blog. Admittedly, the number of CCW defensive gun uses are low, but they do happen.
Contrast Tam's words above with these of Barry of Inn of the Last Home from a while back:
I just...I just blink my eyes in amazement everytime this crops up - actually watching people feel the need to carry a concealed weapon in public...You can bet your ass I don't trust him to make decisions for me.
If I were to take a live, armed weapon and carry it on my person, in public, it would eat away at my sanity just as if it were emitting lethal radiation. To know that I carried an instrument of sure and certain death on my person, available and ready to be pulled out and used at a moment's notice to possibly kill...a child. A homeless person. An innocent.
Obviously that is not your intent. You want to protect yourself - maybe that is how you feel in California. But being brought up in Eastern Tennessee I've never once felt the need to protect myself from imminent bodily harm in public. And if I were aware of a location that might be unduly hazardous - a dark alley, a badly lighted parking area - I would avoid it. I've never been mugged, nor can I readily pull up a name of any person I've ever met that's been mugged or even bodily threatened in my whole life.
What scares me most is the arbitrary nature of self-defense. What line must be crossed to signal to you that there is imminent danger or threat? Is it a criminal pulling a gun on you? In which case, unless you're a gunslinger, you're not going to outdraw him. Is it someone pulling a knife? Threatening words? Bad language or rude gestures? Where is that one point where you decide, "Yes, my life or the life of my loved ones is in danger and I must now take it upon myself to take the life of another person." What if the guy is reaching into his jacket, and you are sure, absolutely certain that it is a weapon. You pull your gun and shoot--and see he's reaching for his wallet. Or worse, you miss and hit a child running in the street. Where is that line?
The radiation would rot my brain and I would never be able to live with myself.
Maybe it's different in California. Maybe it's different in Tennessee. Maybe I don't love my family enough...maybe I love them too much. But I know myself, and know that if I surrendered to the paranoia - and I mean that in the most basic sense - there would be no turning back.
UPDATE: Original JSKit/Echo comment thread is available here. Thank you, John Hardin.