Monday, July 23, 2012

Running Low

JCF asks:

For those who say "If only there were other armed citizens in theater": when the police arrive, are they supposed to say "OK, *this* is Psycho-Killer Shooter #1 'who started it', whereas *that* is Righteous Armed Citizen Shooter #2, firing back."

SRSLY??? Or do the police shoot down EVERYBODY w/ a gun (and more power to 'em)?

Oh, it is so much worse than that.

I was going to write a lengthy post about the sad response to the Aurora shooting, and the excuses for gun violence, a post pretty much in line with what Mayor Bloomberg has been saying, which is:  screw the sentiment, let's do something about crime!

But it's guns, and only people kill people, and the shooter would have armed himself with a banana or a bunch of grapes, or something, so why bother?

Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado, a Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the killer might have built a bomb or found some other lethal device if no assault weapons had been around. And Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, defended people’s rights to own large-quantity ammunition magazines.

“The fact of the matter is, there are magazines, 30-round magazines, that are just common all over the place, and you simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals that want to do harm,” Mr. Johnson said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And when you try and do it, you restrict our freedoms.” 
Nothing is more important than the freedom to buy weapons on the internet so you can shoot children in a crowded theater.

Well, you can see where I was going.  Instead, I decided to write a quick response to this, which is making the rounds, or should have, by now (and no, no pun intended).

First, consider that you are in a dark theater full of screaming people, tear gas in the air, and a gun going off (or two, or three; the shooter had a pistol, an assault rifle, and a shotgun).  And you, brave brave Sir Greg Block, hero of your own action movie, are going to move skillfully down the line of movie theater seats, crouching and firing and crouching and firing and....

Those movie theater seats are going to give you how much protection, again?  Let's say:  zilch.  Because the muzzle velocity of a bullet leaving an assault rifle, or a pistol above the size of a .22, or even a short range shot gun blast, is going to send a projectile through that theater seat like it was cardboard.  And besides, are you sitting in the only empty row in the entire theater?  Have all the other patrons magically vanished into other rows, disappeared, been raptured, removed from both the line of fire you are now drawing to your part of the theater, and the row of seats so you have an uninterrupted course to run and crouch down in, just like in the movies?  And your heroism isn't making all the people around you targets, all those people whom you are now stepping on or crouching on or otherwise stumbling over as they try to avoid you, Mr. Gun Wielding Lunatic, as they wonder just how many crazy people came armed tonight?


Now, on to the fact the shooter is wearing armor, including a helmet.  Maybe the helmet wouldn't stop a bullet, but how many do you expend on his torso before you figure out he's bulletproof there?  Or do you knock him down (most likely) when you finally make a good shot (also most likely; and the rest of those bullets you fired they, what, evaporate rather than strike someone in the theater?  Sure, let's say that happens), then crawl over the screamers and the bodies and the wounded, trying to find him in the dark to be sure he's down, only to find yourself facing a shotgun and the last sound you hear is....

Yeah, that's a bit more likely.

Greg Block may be a certified firearms safety trainer, but he's not a policeman, he's not a combat soldier, and he's not the star of his own action film.  Frankly, if this is how he imagines reality, he's not very imaginative, either.  I have neither training in arms nor arms safety nor in killing people in combat situations, but I can easily imagine how much worse it would have been had Mr. Block been there and decided it was hero time.

And while we consider Mr. Block's obvious assumption that being armed and somewhat trained makes him invisible and bulletproof, let us recall the number of military personnel killed or wounded at Ft. Hood, including those who tried to attack the gunman either simply physically or with firearms themselves.    They were brave, they were heroic, and some of them, sadly, still died.  And the shooter kept on shooting.  Not to say someone shouldn't try to stop such an assailant; but don't fool yourself that life is like the movies.  Indeed, if there is any real damage done to society by action movies, it's the idea that the hero never dies before the villain does, and that we can all be that hero if we just have a gun.  In fact, wasn't that part of the story of "The Dark Knight"?

We don't need more guns in this country, we need fewer bullets.  We can't clawback the guns that are out there, but we can make the bullets so expensive no one can afford them, withe perhaps exceptions for hunting rifles and certain sizes of shot for shotgun shells.  It wouldn't be perfect, but it would be a start.

There may be a limited constitutional right to keep and bear arms; but there is no right to fire them; especially in a crowded theater.

We need more prayers for peace.  Not because then God will finally grant it to us, but because it will change our hearts and minds and perhaps start to turn us from war and violence and slaughter, and because it will turn us to healing the hearts and minds of those torn asunder by these events.  It would also be a better us of our time than arguing about whether guns kill people or people kill people, and about what drove the shooter to this hideous act.

P.S.  Notice, too, the shooter is being called "evil,' a theological term meaning "there's nothing we can do about it, because evil is as inevitable as sunrise, so move along."

Guns don't kill people, evil kills people, and evil cannot be predicted, controlled, or countermanded.  We can only live with the consequences of it, especially when guns are involved.

That's the other argument you're going to hear again and again.  Funny how that absolves us from all social responsibility for protecting each other from the criminal element.  Better we should suffer the evil among us, than we should control guns.  We cannot stop evil, we might as well get good at suffering from it.   (I'm actually hearing this argument right now on the BBC World Service.)

And if you go here, you'll see that mass shootings are safe, legal, and infrequent (I heard a variation on that claim on BBC earlier today).   Evil.  I mean, whadareyagonnado?

One last time, revising and extending my earlier remarks:

Louie Gohmert referenced this incident in my hometown (his too, to my eternal shame.  All I can say is we'd rather he be in D.C. than in Texas).  I bring it up only to point out the shooter took two shots from a .45 pistol from 50 feet, and never fell down, because he was wearing a bulletproof vest.  It took Mr. Wilson several shots to figure this out, in broad daylight.  Or perhaps he never figured it out; unfortunately we'll never know, as the shooter eventually killed him.  116 police rounds later, with a sniper firing a rifle at the shooter, he finally fled the scene.  He died later, taking 5 shots to the back of his head.

Tell me again, Mr. Block, how you would be more effective in a dark crowded theater than several police officers were, one of them a trained sniper, on open ground in broad daylight?

As I say, everybody is a hero in their own action movie....


  1. In the gun nut phenomenon you have so much of what is so wrong coming together. An interest group that has become a vehicle for the gun industry to protect itself from regulation, tapping into the deep paranoia that right wingers have about the federal government and, no doubt, the large number of actually mentally ill with paranoid delusions who collect arsenals, attaching themselves to the corporate party, the Republicans and their media in order to defeat the will of the majority who are sick and tired of being a people under threat of assault. And, of course, our out of date, 18th century constitution and its most anti-democratic features are ready made for their purposes.

    I think it's going to take a far greater effort than the civil rights movement of the middle-20th century to defeat them and it will never be done unless the media link in the conspiracy is broken. That has to be done or this will never be doable.

    I'll be taking a break from online life for a while. Best wishes, RMJ and friends.

  2. Windhorse11:27 AM

    An excellent rebuttal to the gunslinger fantasies of arms fetishists. For further ammo in this argument, see the North Hollywood Shootout. Two bank robbers in full body armor, in broad daylight, with no tear gas or chaotic mob for the police to deal with and it still took HUNDREDS of officers over an hour to bring them down. The small arms fire of the police weapons could not penetrate the armor. It took a SWAT team with high-powered rifles to finally stop them. And while I wouldn't out it past Republican lawmakers to enable it, I just don't see moviegoers lugging high-powered rifles to the theater with them along with their already-cumbersome gas masks and night-vision goggles.

  3. Scott the Obscure2:31 PM

    Thanks for this. My usual comment, when certain people blame the victims for not stopping the shooters with SHEER MANLY MASCULINITY like the bloviator would, is oddly appropriate. It's along the lines of "What, are you dense? Are you retarded??! YOU ARE NOT THE G-D BATMAN!"

    In other news, thank you for having somewhere I can come for comfort without any details of the shooting, RMJ. My oldest just turned 6, so even tho I have no dog in this fight, it's got me sick at heart. I'm having to avoid large chunks of the web right now...

  4. Anonymous4:17 PM

    Looking for something else on the web I came across your blog post. The fact is civilian shooters stop mass shootings with far fewer deaths than when police bring a mass shooting event to an end. The most up to date FBI crime statistics show that armed civilians stop mass shooting events with an average of 2.3 deaths per event, whereas police stop mass shootings with at an average of 14.2 deaths. Armed civilians stop roughly twice as many mass shooting events as police. The fact there are many more concealed carry holders than police, result in the fact that a civilian is much more likely to stop a violent crime in progress than a police officer.