16 December 2012

Armed with Facts, the Perception Changes

If you didn't grow up in the states it's probably hard to understand the American culture, particularly associated with firearms. Our history was born in conflict, our societal perception is one of self reliance, of a belief in the human, not a system, an understanding that the individual is more responsible for their own safety than anyone else. The average response time for any police entity in the entire country exceeds four minutes AFTER the call for aid is made. Four minutes is an eternity.

The following is from Karl Denniger who writes primarily about the market, finances, politics etc. I would encourage anyone contemplating the issue to read it. Sometimes we might not like the truth, but that does not change the truth.

CT School Shooting; Facts Before Hype

You have to live in a hole not to know that a deranged young man shot up a school yesterday morning.

In the aftermath there are the predictable calls for bans on all guns, bans on most guns, and bans on, well, anyone other than you and your hired goons (aka Mayor Bloomberg) having a gun.

Hysteria does not produce good results. Indeed, evil men often wait for conveniently-timed hysteria to do unspeakably ugly and evil things under cover of public demand that they conveniently exploit. There are hundreds if not thousands of banksters freely roaming the land today who are free under precisely this rubric; men and women (but mostly men) who would under any rational legal system be rotting in prison right now but for Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke locking Congress in a room in the dark evenings of 2008 and threatening that the end of the world would ensue if he was not given plenary power to do whatever he thought necessary. He even came with a convenient three-page document that would grant him that power. Ultimately Congress only gave him part of what he asked for, but as is almost always the case when someone claims he is going to do something under mass-hysteria conditions he is lying, and intends to do something else.

Such was the case with Hank Paulson, who we now know had "changed his intent" to buy toxic assets (his original claim) before Congress voted on the proposal and yet didn't tell Congress of his changed intentions, misleading the body intentionally by omission.

You're still paying for the result today in the form of ridiculous unemployment, food stamp recipients going off the scale, gasoline and other necessities nearly doubling in price and the inexorable health care cost ramp continuing. All of this is happening because instead of addressing the causes of the crisis and jailing the malefactors responsible the executive used the hysteria generated by Lehman's failure to shove a law down Congressional throats.

Now let's look at what we know about the Connecticut shootings -- and unlike many commentators I will clearly delineate that which we now can state confidently are facts, that which is a reasonable conclusion from those facts, and that which is speculative in character at this time as sufficient information is not available to refute or support such a position.

We'll start with the guns. They are reported to have been legally owned by the shooter's mother and included a Glock pistol, a Sig pistol and a .223 caliber rifle. The rifle has been reported to be a sporting variety commonly used for target practice or hunting varmints; if the make and model reported are correct it is indeed a hunting variant (it has a fixed stock as hunting rifles typically do, no flash-hider on the front or other "scary looking" but immaterial cosmetics, etc.) Sig makes extremely high-quality (and commensurately expensive) pistols; Glock of course makes highly-reliable and well-respected weapons as well. A little-known fact about Glocks is that for many people they "point" funny due to a different grip angle than most other pistols; some people find them very difficult to shoot accurately for this reason. That may be why the mother owned both (she may have bought one and not liked it, then bought the other.) The rifle was found inside the car the shooter drove and since he never came out of the school building once going in it must be presumed that he did not use that gun in the school assault. There is nothing particularly-remarkable about the weapons used in this assault; they are common guns used lawfully by millions of Americans for hunting, target practice and defensive purposes. (Update 12/15 late - it is now reported that the rifle was in fact on the shooter and was in fact used in the shooting, not left in the car.)

Of note is that the shooter could not have legally acquired the pistols, as he is not 21. Federal law requires one to be 21 years of age before purchasing a pistol at retail. In this particular case, however, it doesn't matter whether he was 21 or not as he didn't buy any of the weapons involved; they were lawfully purchased by his mother who the assailant murdered prior to assaulting the school.

In other words the shooter effectively stole the weapons used in the assault. We do not know at this point (and may never know) the exact order of events in terms of his acquisition of the weapons but what we do know factually is that he murdered their owner, ending her ability to report the theft or to resist what he intended to do with them next.

That is, there was no "gun control" violation involved in this assault. The bad guy did not obtain the weapons through lawful means and he also did not (legally or not) circumvent the background check system by, for example, buying them privately from someone (the much-maligned "gun show loophole" that people talk about but is almost-never actually implicated in an assault.) Rather, the assailant removed the weapons from their lawful owner through, either directly or indirectly, the crime of murder.

As a retired school teacher with no reported criminal history, there was utterly no reason to prevent the mother from owning these firearms for perfectly reasonable and lawful purposes, such as paper-punching or self-defense. Being divorced -- as a single woman -- she had every right and reason to be armed for defensive purposes, particularly in her own home.

So now let's turn to the assailant and his choice of targets. The first murder, that of his mother, was the predicate act he undertook which allowed him the access to the firearms he then transported beyond the boundary of lawful possession and use. The decision to commit murder, once taken, was the predicate act that laid waste all laws that would otherwise bear on the subject matter.

You cannot stop bullets with paper (laws); by definition laws only impact the actions (or inactions) of law-abiding individuals. Once someone decides to commit a capital felony (irrespective of whether life imprisonment or death is the potential sentence) all considerations of legal sanction have been discarded and become inoperative.

Put another way there is no punishment that enhances a life sentence, nor one that enhances a sentence of death. Once the remainder of one's life is to be spent behind bars or they are to suffer the death penalty all additional offenses they choose to commit are free of sanction, as society has exhausted the available remedies they can apply for that person's behavior.

This is the overriding reason that "gun laws" or any other sort of proscriptive legal sanction are utterly worthless once a person has committed their first homicide.

Next, we'll look at the school itself. The shooter didn't walk in, he broke through a window to enter the building. The school appears to have been appropriately secured on a physical level, although obviously the glass broken through was not armored. What was missing was someone -- anyone -- in the building with the means and willingness to present effective resistence to an armed criminal intent on murder. From all reports the staff did what they could, having no defensive weapons and no locks on the classroom doors, to mitigate the assault -- they turned on the PA system so everyone knew there was an attack in progress and the teachers barricaded themselves as best they were able. At least one teacher was shot and wounded through her door while (successfully) preventing the gunman from entering her classroom.

There are many who argue that we can prevent these assaults via strict gun laws, starting with the effective if not complete voiding of the 2nd Amendment.

But the historical record on this point is clear; governments murder far more people, ignoring wartime, than do thugs. The predicate act of every government that undertakes such an activity is to disarm the population. This was known back in 1776 and is the reason for the Second Amendment. Those who believe the founders were wrong need only look at the next 200+ years of history to see that they were absolutely right -- over 200 million people have been shoved in the hole by government outside of acts of war and every single time they disarmed the population first.

Further, those who argue for gun laws need only to look at drug prohibition for a nearly 100-year unbroken record of failure. You can get drugs in prison, which is proof positive that any law that man passes can be (and will be) corrupted and circumvented. Fast and Furious anyone? How many Mexicans have we shoved in the hole by our own law enforcement officials circumventing the very laws they are sworn to uphold?

To restate for much-needed emphasis there is simply no means to prevent someone from committing a second or subsequent capital offense with a piece of paper -- a law. Laws do not stop bullets and the threat of sanction is meaningless once you reach the maximum available sanction; any further threat of criminal sanction is immaterial since you can only give someone one capital or life sentence in fact, no matter how many you impose on paper.

There is thus one, and only one, means to deter those who would commit a second or subsequent murder -- a visible, obvious and known risk that they will be unable to complete their second or subsequent offense because they are stopped by the immediate application of deadly force to their person.

Consider this: Why is it that we never hear of these sorts of murderous rampages taking place in a police station? After all, if you're a murderous thug the cops are the ones who will arrest you and deliver you over to the courts where you will be tried, sentenced and then eventually imprisoned (or given the needle.) Logic dictates that you would thus assault those who would arrest and try you for your crimes, in an attempt to neuter their ability to do so.

The reason these thugs do not, as a rule, assault a police station is that they know full well that everyone in the place is armed and will resist -- that while they may through the element of surprise manage to shoot one or two people the odds are nearly 100% that doing so will lead to the immediate termination of their assault via return fire.

Before you argue otherwise let's look at the recent events, shall we? The movie theater in Colorado posted a "gun free" sign. Ditto for the mall. And, of course, under federal law schools are "gun free" zones -- the government, along with gun-banners, assert that paper (laws) "protect" against bullets.

But the law only applies to and is followed by law-abiding citizens, and as I have irrefutably shown above, once someone commits their first murder there is no law that can add to their punishment since they have already elected to suffer the maximum available penalty.

Therefore, the logical place for such a person to commit a mass assault, where the odds are highest that they will be able to murder the maximum number of people, is to select a location to target where the odds of lawful defensive use of force are minimized -- or non-existent.

This is why the assailants choose movie theaters or malls that are posted "gun-free" zones -- and schools.

Occasionally, however, their plans go awry. For instance, in Oregon.

"He was working on his rifle," said Meli. "He kept pulling the charging handle and hitting the side."

The break in gunfire allowed Meli to pull out his own gun, but he never took his eyes off the shooter.


"I'm not beating myself up cause I didn't shoot him," said Meli. "I know after he saw me I think the last shot he fired was the one he used on himself."

Indeed the shooter did shoot himself next, despite having multiple additional unarmed people available near him to continue his rampage, along with additional cartridges, once he unjammed the gun.


He saw the man who, despite a sign claiming that there were no guns in the mall, was in fact armed and able to return fire. The assailant's illusion of a free-fire zone where all the people he wanted to shoot were free from the risk of returning fire had been dispelled; had he elected to shoot another unarmed and helpless individual the odds are good that he would have exposed himself to being shot as he would have had to move in a fashion that would have given the CCW holder a clear shot at him.

As such he elected to take his own life since he knew, at that point, that he no longer had the ability to continue to murder people without reprisal.

Nick Meli saved lives with a gun. He did so without discharging the weapon as occurs more than one million times a year in the United States; his mere display of the weapon broke the illusion of a risk-free target zone for the shooter. Without that citizen firing a shot by the mere display of his gun the shooter's calculation of risk and reward changed, and he elected to kill himself rather than continue his rampage.

You won't hear this reported in the media, of course. Nor will the screaming left, who prey on emotion rather than facts, take an analytical look at these events. Indeed, I was puzzled when it was first reported that the Oregon shooter elected to shoot himself after his weapon jammed. That act made no sense standing alone; he obviously un-jammed his weapon or he couldn't have shot himself with it, so why shoot himself rather than continue his rampage in a mall full of unarmed people? He was not at imminent risk of capture by law enforcement at that moment in time, and it did not appear from original reports that he had come into the mall targeting a specific person or persons -- that is, all reports were that he was randomly shooting people rather than trying to assassinate someone with whom he had a grudge.

It therefore made absolutely no sense that he would shoot two people then choose to kill himself absent the risk of his own imminent demise.

We now know that it was precisely the risk of his imminent demise that led him to change his course of action and self-terminate his assault, and that it was the mere display of a weapon by a citizen who was willing and able to defend innocent life that made the difference.

In short, guns are not the problem. Deranged people are a serious problem, but even the seriously-deranged are capable of some level of logic. They choose the targets of their assaults predicated on the likelihood that there will be meaningful resistance offered, and when that calculation turns out to be incorrect they are either stopped or take their own life as they realize their mistake.

There are still serious questions surrounding this assault that I do not yet have sufficient facts to opine upon. For instance, was the shooter on psychotropic medication? If so, why do we continue to allow the peddlers of such drugs to sell them in the United States despite black box warnings -- self-admitted warnings -- that they can and do cause suicidal and homicidal rage? Why do we refuse to deal with serious mental illness and the warnings that those people exhibit (such as the shooter at the movie theater) in a forthright and honest fashion?

There are things we can do about this problem, but they have nothing to do with gun laws. It is already illegal for a person to buy a firearm if they are mentally incompetent, but if we refuse to bring someone before a judge and have them declared incompetent the problem isn't the law -- it's us and our refusal to face facts. In the specific case in question, however, the shooter did not buy his firearms, he took them and murdered their owner. In the recent mall shooting in Oregon the firearm was also stolen.

No law is effective once a person decides to commit murder; all lesser laws, such as those against theft, are immediately rendered immaterial. At that instant in time the only option that will materially change your odds of being a victim are to increase the odds that the nutcase hellbent on murder will meet with someone willing and able to stop him or her in lawful defense.

And most of the time that defender of your life, whether it is you or someone else, will need a firearm to do so.

More "gun free" zones -- and more gun laws -- will only serve to increase the number and effectiveness of murderous rampages.

With guns or without.

You can only falsify this assertion when we see police departments become the successful targets of such assaults.

Hell will freeze first.


  1. Great article my thanks for sharing.... DK

  2. It was the act of a madman, no point of debate there.
    He or someone like him would have done something like this, no matter what and no matter where, but.... I do believe that given the large amounts of weapons and ammunition available and in easy reach in your country does make it a lot easier for this kind of acts to turn into bloodbaths of this magnitude.
    People like him are almost unstoppable. They are determined to commit their crimes. They'll take knives, axes, whatever is available. I've dealt with the likes of him and I am only glad that in my days in lawenforcement casualties never numbered more than a handfull and I do believe that the lack of firearms on this side of the Great Pond is the reason for that.

  3. This article is absolutely fantastic.

  4. Excellent food for thought, and thankfully devoid of the emotional overdrive that tends to drive the knee-jerk reactions to these events.

    I think this is a particularly interesting question that I would love to see more detail on (but probably won't);

    "For instance, was the shooter on psychotropic medication? If so, why do we continue to allow the peddlers of such drugs to sell them in the United States despite black box warnings -- self-admitted warnings -- that they can and do cause suicidal and homicidal rage?"

    1. Agreed. I think this is/could be one of the major points to these stories, that gets neglected. The light gets shined in easier, political directions.

  5. thank you for this article. You make very good points. And we now know that the shooter at the school killed himself when the ARMED FIRST RESPONDERS ENTERED THE SCHOOL...

  6. thank you for this article. You make very good points. And we now know that the shooter at the school killed himself when the ARMED FIRST RESPONDERS ENTERED THE SCHOOL...

  7. Very well written and sound assessment of the crazy behavior we are seeing. Thank you.

  8. Good writing.
    To give some - not just one! - example that harder gun laws don't work is my home country germany.
    You're getting guns only if you are a sport shooter, in a special club, a trained hunter or in law enforcment.
    And even if one of this is true you don't get every gun you want. We're also e.g. not allowed to carry a one-hand-folder where the blade is fixed after opening without a legal purpose.
    But we also had shootings, for example in the town where i was born and live.
    He killed three people and shot one bad, they were his targets. No one was talking about the reasons why he did so but what the government could forbid next.
    After that there were again shootings.
    The media and government wasn't talking about the mental disfunction again but about banning special computer games or paintball.

    Why are they not looking further into the problems the people had, but criminalizing every lawful citizen who wants to do his hobby?

    I don't understand it and i can't understand why people are doing this. I think it's not just because i'm only 20 years old..

    Thank's grouch for these always interesting, good to read, articles you post.
    With this again is more clear we need to find a global solution not just a local.

    Hope you understand what i mean.

  9. The people who really need to read this and let it soak in, will probably never do so.

    that is a good write up though.

  10. Thanks for posting this. I wish more folks could read and hear about this side of things instead of the poison the media spews. Our country is heading in a sad direction where the responsibility for proper behavior is on the government and not ourselves.

  11. Coming from England where there are far fewer guns (though we have our own fair share of mad men with guns) it's easy for me to say that common sense and episodes like the Conneticut shootings mean that gun law in America is anachronistic and should be reformed. Having said that, it's not really a culture I understand. I love to read your blog and hate the thought of law abiding people like yourself who use guns and bows for the purpose they were produced being stopped from following your sport and chosen way of life. Equally I hate the thought of this happening again. In Britain there have been a lot of well reported incidents of violent knife crime, resulting in law reform that means a man carrying a knife can expect a statutory prison sentence, making life for those who enjoy bushcraft, wood carving and use bladed tools for the purpose they were produced very difficult. It seems that those who abide by the rules and keep the laws are always penalised at the expense of those who don't and won't even when laws are reformed and ramped up. I now have to be very careful and think twice before transporting a whittling knife to a carving event. Do yo think that young gang members on the streets of London think twice about carrying knives as a result of the new knife laws? I don't think so.