Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts on violence.

--This nation is split right now. There is little in the way of a "conversation about guns and violence." It is two sides, squaring off. It's not pretty, and it's not really effective.

--Under the New Public Service model of governance, we are supposed to engage in a dialogue until we decide what to do, without regard to completing our goal, or achieving a real consensus.

--Those of us interested in maintaining the right to keep and to bear arms are acting calmer than those who blame firearms for the violence in which they are used.
This isn't because we're less upset. 

--Belief that ONE SINGLE POLICY will stop the violence is pretty naive. Thus, even though I believe that there are things that we can and probably should do to reduce the violence, I don't present them and then nod self-assuredly and declare "that's what will finally fix the problem."

--I've said before and I will say again that this nation has a serious problem in identifying and managing our mentally ill. We don't even deal with the emergent ones.

--If I truly believed that we could put the genie back in the bottle, and eliminate all firearms from this planet in an attempt to rid the planet of gun violence, I might well consider it, even though I agree with Marko's excellent essay, here. But it's not possible, so why entertain the mental exercise? If we're going to do that, why not settle invisibility versus flight for a superpower?

--If guns are the problem, why is my life not steeped in violence? Even though I literally am dispatched to every call involving violence in my jurisdiction for half of every other day, I have seen very little in the way of gun violence in the last 12 years of service. I've never been shot at. I've never shot at anyone. I've never arrested anyone for intentionally shooting at another person (true story!). I've only a handful of times arrested people for pointing guns at others. This is in Texas, where private ownership of firearms is almost unrestricted: No limit to number of guns, no registration of guns, no waiting period, no state restriction on private sales, no state restriction on ammunition* or magazines. If you get it federally registered, you can even own an automatic weapon.

--Some folks will see that above comment and say, "well, he works in a small town, so that's different." Well, which is it? Either we're back-woods hicks who are armed to the teeth and seething in violence, or I'm working for Mayberry, and we all get along so great, no one would ever be so unkind as to shoot someone else.  It must not be the guns, though, because EVERY home here seems to have a collection of firearms.

--Firearms were virtually uncontrolled before 1934, then more so in 1968, and more so in 1986. Yet school shootings have increased almost exponentially since just the late 1990s. Why? Yes, there are more guns. Yes, more people live in urban environments. But those aren't the answer. The problem of mass shootings has grown far faster than the rate of gun ownership. Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, when I saw him speak, opined that the problem grew in direct proportion to the proliferation of first-person shooter video games. Hm.  I don't think that blaming the games themselves is the answer. But I'll for damn sure agree that there's an inured effect upon the players to distance themselves from the perceived consequences of their actions. 

I see evidence of dissociative behavior among youth that I didn't see much before. Youngsters engaged in online debate move quickly to direct each other to kill themselves. We've got individuals scattered among us who genuinely don't see other people as real. We've always had such sociopaths (for such they are), but it seems like we've started distilling them, and creating a higher likelihood that we'll have to deal with them.

--I am real. And so are you.

--The world will never be Nerf'd. We cannot stop violence, much. But maybe we can attenuate it. Maybe we can actually get a handle on what we can do to help reduce the chance that future sick persons will decide to destroy others.  I'm going to try. Please try in your way, too.

--Let me know what you think. I'm interested.
*Except armor-piercing handgun ammunition.

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At Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:06:00 AM, Blogger Chip said...

I was going to comment on the mental health system but I think Old NFO says it best

At Tuesday, December 18, 2012 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

Of all of the mass shootings I've heard of, there seems to be a common theme (or set of common themes):

There is a gun involved (duh!).

There is a mentally disturbed individual involved (almost goes without saying that anyone who would commit such a crime is probably very mentally ill).

The crime takes place in a perceived "safe place." A school, an army base, a school, a school retreat, a shopping mall, a school, a shopping mall, a movie theater, a school, etc. Many (if not all) of these places are places where guns have been "banned" by legislation or by the property owner declaring that they don't allow guns there.

An honest discussion on how to deal with the issue of "gun violence" has to at least mention the possibility of undoing these bans. If it doesn't, it fails to discuss one of the three key components of every one of these mass shootings.

We can ban guns more and harder in schools, for example. I don't see how that will help. If it's already illegal, making it more illegal won't change anything, right? The argument that a mentally ill person won't be able to get a gun is as stupid as the argument that a criminal won't be able to get a gun.

We can do more to identify and help those individuals who are mentally ill. I do see how that can help.

We can offer the option to arm the very people most likely to be in a position to do something about an active shooter--the potential victims. I can definitely see how that would help.

Israel saw that too. They don't demand that the teachers be armed, but they do allow it if the teacher qualifies. They also provide armed security guards at every school. Maybe not the way we want to go as a country, but it would be preferable to have armed guards at every school than to have nobody at the school armed except the bad guy.

Ideally, I'm all about individual rights and individuals looking out for their own best interest. Any teacher that would want to carry a gun for the protection of self and his/her class is probably the kind you'd want to have a gun anyway. They'd already understand the very serious nature of carrying that gun, and the fact that they might be the only thing that stops that bad guy.

Of course, I must be crazy for suggesting it.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:52:00 AM, Blogger Leatherwing said...

Very well said MattG. I wish some folks with national exposure were speaking as clearly.

And I hope your statements about not being shot at nad not shooting anyone remain true for your whole career.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Andy said...

Just to point out, the rate of mass shootings appears to be fairly constant, according to statistics found <a href=">here</a>.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:53:00 AM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

The Bath Massacre of 1927, the worst attack on a school in US history, was mostly executed using dynamite and farming explosive. Obviously firearms didn't "cause" that attack in any way.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:08:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Thanks Chip, and yeah, there is a disassociation... Another point is GAMES have a reset button... Real life doesn't, and a lot of kids do not understand that. Also there is (and I know I'm beating the dead horse) no longer any personal responsibility for actions... Great post though Matt, and lots of thought provoking points!

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:55:00 PM, Blogger Kristophr said...

A world without violence would end in tyranny, as the most manipulative persons would convince others to vote them all the power and property at my expense that they want.

And without violence, I would have no means to resist the vote power of the mob.

No revolutions, ever.

Violence, as a neutral tool, is absolutely necessary.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:32:00 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Today I forgot to pack my son's lunch. When I brought it to his school I was greeted at the door by an armed, off-duty police officer/parent volunteer. You can say "No more guns in schools" all you want, but I assure you, knowing that dad will run toward chaos in an effort to protect our kids made me smile bigger than I had since Friday.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Wyoming, we just had a multiple murder done by a kid just like Lanza - Asperger's Syndrome, furious at his father and his father's girlfriend.

He killed his father on the Casper Community College campus, and the woman elsewhere. Then this precious little freak killed himself. Three people dead.

Sounds very much like CT, right?

Yea, well, right up until we get to the detail that the kid killed his father with a bow and a broadhead, and the girlfriend and himself with a large knife.

So there's more to deranged, fucked-up mental cases than the gun-obsessed media and gun-banners would have have anyone believe.

Oh, and for all you gun-grabbers, here's the Casper killer's suicide note/manifesto/whatever you'd like to call it. Get back to me on how banning guns is going to stop a guy like this. I'm a retired EE, and I'm here to tell all you squishy little liberal arts majors that when an engineer decides someone is going to die... they're as good as dead. No paper laws are going to stop an engineer who has gone off the rails on the crazy train. The only laws that constrain him then are the physical laws of the universe.

At Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:22:00 PM, Anonymous shovelDriver said...

Everyone all outraged about the ammo used by the Criminal Assailant in the Sandy Hook School shooting - and others -should educate themselves about the oft-hurled (false) epithet of "armor-piercing" ammo.

8 USC sec. 921(a)(17) defines `armor piercing ammunition' as:

The bullet must either have a core made ENTIRELY out of one or more of the listed metals, or be a full jacketed type bullet with a jacket comprising more that 25% of its weight. Thus SS109/M855 .223 (5.56mm) bullets would not be covered, because their core is only partly steel, and partly lead. Lead is not a listed metal, and bullets with cores made partly out of lead are OK. ATF has expressly ruled that SS109/M855 bullets are not covered.

5) Hardness of the bullet is irrelevant.

6) Ability to actually penetrate any kind of soft body armor is irrelevant.

ATF has specifically exempted the following rounds:

5.56 SS109 and M855 NATO rounds, with a steel penetrator tip.

.30-06 M2 AP ammo.

At Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:44:00 AM, Blogger Wraith said...

Yet school shootings have increased almost exponentially since just the late 1990s. Why?

In 1994, the Feds made it mandatory to make all schools "Gun Free Zones."


At Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:38:00 AM, Anonymous pax said...


Broaden your mind. Don't just look at mass shootings. Look at mass murders.

Alfred P. Murrah

Bath School Disaster

Happy Land

And on, and on.

At Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:39:00 PM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

"Broaden your mind. Don't just look at mass shootings."

But we're talking about mass shootings, not mass murders without guns (or, at least I was). While the ones you point out are just as horrible, someone being armed/disarmed on the scene isn't relevant to the discussion.

No one came forward after the Oklahoma City bombing to demand that my guns should be taken away because a lunatic blew up a building. When the Happy Land fire happened, Mikeys Moore and Bloomberg didn't get splashed across my TV saying that we don't need the 2nd amendment anymore because a deranged loser had gasoline and match.

We are being told that guns are bad and evil and all sorts of icky because some jack-wagon with a decided lack of marbles shot up a school. And previous to that, another idiot shot up a mall, and another lunatic shot up a theater (killing one of my very good friends, BTW). So I should give up my guns now? I should be disarmed in more places and placed at a further disadvantage to defending myself because sick, evil and crazy individuals are sick, evil and crazy (and happened to use a gun)?

I believe I get what you were saying--that mass murders will continue even if we arm the teachers. There's more than one way to commit mass murder. I get that, and I agree.

I've said before that there are no simple answers to complex problems, and I don't think my solution is going to solve all the problems. Nor do I think it will cause any problems.

My point was that we cannot claim to have had a serious discussion on the matter of "gun control" and preventing mass shootings if we don't talk about all of the issues. One of those issues is the disarming of potential victims because of their location, and then pretending their location is somehow now secured. Disarming the potential victims helps no one but the next mass murderer with a gun.

At Friday, December 21, 2012 9:43:00 AM, Blogger Weetabix said...

I think the kids being raised protected from everything uncomfortable and always getting their way grow up unable to imagine either anyone else's pain or their reality.

Life doesn't smack kids and wake them up anymore. Bike helmets, knee pads, don't do anything "dangerous." These kids can't imagine discomfort, pain, or another person's reality.

It leads to more ... mental "offness"(?) and increases the potential pool of lunatics that will do this sort of thing.

I don't see any way to stop it short of a societal move to stop producing generations of grown up babies.

(obviously there are other factors, too, but I think this is a major one)

At Friday, December 21, 2012 9:48:00 AM, Blogger Weetabix said...

Maybe partly what I mean is that kids aren't exposed to enough early, normal, childhood violence* anymore to be able to internalize what the larger adult violence means. It's not real to them in an internal sense, and they have no idea (or care) about what the results will be.

*(This includes minor everyday discomfort and pain that doesn't kill you, but makes you grow.)


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