Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Some Thoughts on Guns and Schools

I thought you might enjoy this piece I wrote for the Orlando Sentinel (April 17, 2007) after the Virginia Tech shootings.

In the wake of the horrific massacre that took place at Virginia Tech, newspapers around the country wasted no time in reporting that Virginia has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States. According to the International Herald Tribune, “Ownership requires only passing criminal background checks, which can be bypassed by buying from an unlicensed dealer. And unlicensed dealers can sell their wares at gun shows without requiring criminal checks. Guns need not be registered unless the owner wants to carry a concealed weapon.”

For the next several weeks we can expect more of this type of intellectual laziness as reporters, politicians, soccer-Moms and everyone else who is convinced that guns are bad lines up to offer up the latest “proof” that school shootings are “caused” by the lack of “gun control”.

As it turns out, the exact opposite is a fact. School shootings – and many other shootings for that matter – occur because we do not have enough law-abiding, armed citizens.

Let’s look at the evidence. John Lott, a University of Chicago economist, collected data from every one of the 3,054 counties in the United States over an 18-year period and examined changes in the rates of nine different types of crime. He also accounted for the effects of dozens of other variables, including variations in arrest rates, in the age and racial composition of a county’s population, in national crime rates, and in changes made to gun-control laws, including the adoption of waiting periods. Lott’s findings show that concealed weapons laws significantly reduce violent crime. On average, the murder rate fell by ten percent, rape by three percent, and aggravated assault by six percent.

By concealed weapons laws, we are talking of course about citizens who legally carry firearms to provide for their Constitutional protections before the police show up. Ask any law enforcement officer and they will tell you that it is far more common for the police to appear after someone is dead than a few seconds before the trigger is pulled. Society does not have the resources or the power of premonition to place our law officers in the right place at the right time. Therefore, the citizens, as our Founders believed, have the right and responsibility to prevent massacres like the one that has tragically occurred at Virginia Tech.

Every parent who cares about the long run safety of their children should actively pursue gun safety courses, gun training and a home environment that respects guns for what they are meant to do. If more parents did this, rather than listen to the histrionics of people who are ignorant about guns and our rights, then at some point during the Virginia Tech shootings the gunman would have faced the barrel of a gun being held by a responsible citizen. That could have been after one death or twenty, but it would have dramatically increased the probability of lives being saved.

It would have also given future gunmen that much needed moment of pause if more of them realized that there were many potential defenders of life out there among the citizenry.


  1. I could write a book about this but will limit to a few comments for now.
    The benefits of personal defense guns are always overlooked because most of the time it only requires the threat of a firearm and there is no firearm actually used. The US position is that we must have a military to show we are willing to defend ourselves and to act as a deterrent to others. Those rules also apply to me. I have a right to the same weapons for the exact same reason.
    I also want firearms because it is my second amendment duty to be ready to “preserve the security of our free country” should the need arise. Our founding fathers did not want this duty farmed out to a government-controlled standing army. To be effective, I need weapons similar to what the military uses.
    The whole concept of an “assault weapons ban” is flawed logic. The ban targets ergonomic and cosmetic features of rifles and not functional features. The AR style rifle is a 50-year-old design that is replacing a 100-year-old design. It takes a long time for new designs to be accepted and put into use but that is what is happening around the world. The curved wooden stock rifle with simple blowback is obsolete. The AR style rifle design is more current. What makes it look different is that it is more ergonomic which makes for better accuracy and easy customization for each user. Functionally it is the same.

    1. When "the security of our free country" is threatened it will be via nuclear bomb or some dirty weapon, or by a takeover of the internet and subsequent loss of control over water, power, etc. It's nice that you want to be brave and wield your big rifle but it won't do you any good. The days of wars where guys shoot at each other with firearms are numbered. Your rifle is as obsolete for protection of the country as is the flintlock.

    2. Russ, I am glad our early patriots didn’t think like you when they realized they were mostly farmers up against a vastly superior military.
      The whole concept of war is to take over another country and reap the spoils. Can you name any war in history where the idea has been to reduce another country to dust and then ignore it? To blast the US into dust would be a waste of effort. The idea is to take over the US and benefit from the resources. A nuclear war is counterproductive to that. It would result in a global depression and worldwide pollution. This is the real reason why there are no nuclear wars.
      In spite of all the bombing and high tech attacks we made on Iraq, we could not control that country without soldiers and rifles, and we could not even do that without converting enough of the Iraqis to form their own army and take control. There were just too many AK-47’s for the US army.
      For an attack on the US to be successful, they would have to take control of the infrastructure. With the registered hunters in the US numbering around 40 million, it would take a heck of an army to control the US. The Chinese army is the world’s largest and that is around 3 million.
      You also seem to be ignoring current events concerning what is happening in the Middle East, Africa, Philippines, etc. It is war with rifles. Those with rifles are beating those without rifles throughout the rest of the world.
      The real enemy is not from outside anyway. When the security of our nation is threatened, it will most likely come from within, with disarmament of our citizens and government takeover of the constitution. That is why the second amendment exists and why I believe it is “second” in the bill of rights.
      “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”, and they will end up with neither.

  2. Russ,

    Harry Browne - a former Libertarian candidate for President - was once asked if he supported private ownership of nuclear weapons. His response?

    "It depends on how tough your neighborhood is."

    1. Great. Then the nutcases would be attacking elementary schools with nukes. The "good guy with a gun" wouldn't be much good in that case. Would the local Army/Navy carry a selection?

      Maybe T.S. Eliot got it wrong when he wrote, "not with a bang but with a whimper."

  3. Mr. Kesler.

    Your point leads to one reason for ocopek's and others desire to keep our "big rifles" . If what you say is true, then in the event of a dirty bomb and responders are rendered useless or unable to reach certain areas, what will we have to defend ourselves and families from aggression? If there is an internet takeover, such as you propose, and there is a loss of power, water, deliverable groceries and fuel, what do you think that will bring? It will more than likely bring chaos. I don't want to be defending my home, or more importantly my family, with my nice set of steak knives.

    Your argument that these "big rifles" will do little to stave off aggression from a government force may be true, but they will no doubt prove effective in a scenario like the ones you mentioned.

    Your vitriolic second sentence implies that all gun owners have the desire to wield our "big rifles" and be brave. I can't speak for ocopek, but the majority of law abiding gun owners wish for peace and have no desire to pull a trigger in aggression, but we are prepared to do so in defense of ourselves and families. Those of us who choose to arm ourselves do so with great concern and a sense of responsibility. It's unfortunate that not all do, but we can't go around and start ignoring the rule of law and punish everyone for the acts of a few, as sad as the events may be.