Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gun Control

In keeping with this afternoon's post, I was thinking about gun control. And now that I'm safely ensconced in the liberal field, I can take up my position and actually support it. Because basically, yes, there is a possibility that had students at Virginia Tech had weapons, the killings wouldn't have been as bad. But, there's a fundamental problem with this approach, and by fundamental I mean a problem with the very basic philosophy behind the "we need guns to protect ourselves" idea. And for me, that fundamental problem is the difference that exists between the liberals and the conservatives, especially with regard to Homeland Security.

Namely - the fundamental belief of the military approach is to find the enemy and hit him with overwhelming force. And preferably, through proper intelligence and planning, before the enemy even has a chance to respond or even begin putting into motion his own plans. Its called an OODA loop (although it was originally an ODA loop, but some brain child in the Pentagon decided that it needed an extra letter. I'll go into my thoughts on this in a different post).

Now - the fundamental belief of law enforcement (as I see it, I don't have the experience with police officers as I do with soldiers) is to meet an "enemy" with the minumum necessary force to subdue him, and (some would say unfortunately) to wait until the criminal has actually committed a crime before arresting him. Yes, we want to prevent him from performing more crimes, but you have to actually do something wrong to get arrested.

Well, or so we thought before the Patriot Act. And this is one of my issues with the government at the moment - they have shifted the basis of law enforcement from reactive to proactive. Some would say that this is the only way to prevent the next terrorist attack. Maybe it is, but at what cost?

Again, though, not the point of this post. As my students know, I tend to ramble. My point was gun control. So, in the context of my conversation with Jeff, we were talking about Columbine, and I started looking that up, plus the Whitman murders in Texas. Now, during the Whitman event they say that all the armed folks in the streets shooting back at Whitman probably saved lives by keeping his sight lines restricted. Sure, I'll buy it. And I'll buy that if someone in the school at Columbine had had a gun, maybe he could have done something about Klebold and Harris. But this is a military response, not a law enforcement one. The police also could have swept the school, cleared rooms, and "taken out" the two boys, but only so long as they were in military mode and not law enforcement mode - where the objective is to kill. But that's not the point of the police! They are not judge, jury, and executioner.

Now - to the gun control opinion. People who want guns have the military mentality and not the law enforcement one. Talk to any of them, and you will get the answer of "I want a gun to protect myself. If someone comes at me with a gun, I'll shoot him." Or something equivalent. They are not concerned with appropriate response, they are concerned with overwhelming force. Now, I know the Second Amendment is thoroughly unclear on the whole "militia" idea, but if the postulate is "guns make us safe" doesn't safe imply civil order, which implies police?


Abster said...

Could anyone have prevented the recent school massacres?

Yes, these incidents could have been prevented at many levels.

We not only need gun/ammo regulation but we need to address
the following issues:

1. First Red Flag - Gun stores should run mental health checks regardless of state law. The VT shooter as well as the Ohio mall shooter had documented histories of institutionalization for mental illness.

2. Second Red Flag - anyone with half a brain can order ammunition and/or the chemicals they need to construct bombs online (if they can't get these items from stores). Online ammo stores need to tighten security and perhaps call customers when they are ordering stockpiles.

3.Third Red Flag - when teachers report problematic behavior of students (harassment, stalking, etc) direct intervention should take place. The VT shooter as well as the Columbine kids were troubled
students who did not receive the help they needed despite teacher intervention. Although teachers should not be "police" - they see children more often than parents do .

4. Emergency procedures should be in place to better equip police to deal with school shooting scenarios. The biggest risk in taking down a shooter is the potential that they hurt someone else in the process which would make them (and probably the state) liable.

Iraqi Bootleg said...


good points, but my responses:

1. the market prevents store owners from doing anything more than they have to in pursuit of a sale - why would a gun store do anything more than legally mandated? We should have some better checks, I think

2. In fact, the VA Tech shooter and the NIU shooter purchased ammunition and accessories from the same online dealer. In fairness to the dealer, he surrendered his entire database to federal authorities as soon as he realized the connection. But what's a stockpile? Assuming I was a recreational shooter with a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 rifle, I would probably burn through 100 rounds of 9mm and 500 rounds of rifle ammo in a week... more than enough to do serious damage to any group of people.

3. Our wonderful society these days actually trusts teachers less than students. Parents will *always* take the side of a child over administrators and teachers in a public school. I've caught students cheating red-handed (word for word exactly the same answers on an in-class test, which were word for word off of wikipedia), and been told by administration that that's not enough to enforce the anti-cheating rules the university had. Since I didn't *actually* see them copying off one another, and they claimed they had just memorized the wikipedia article, the administration wouldn't back me up. Incidentally, I'm sure you will encounter this at your school, if you haven't already ...