The NRA has finally spoken on the tragedy last week in Connecticut and how I wish they hadn’t. Not because it isn’t telling to hear how crazy they are, but because it is depressing to know how much they hold sway over the people in the government. The amount of money they have to push their agenda is obscene. As is the agenda itself. As is their unwillingness to take questions after their press conference. But I digress.
There has been a big push in response to the shootings to tighten gun laws, but the NRA, unsurprisingly, doesn’t think guns are the problem. In fact, they think guns are the solution.
I have spent much of the last week trying to find good, solid information on gun policy in the US, but I’ve had a lot of difficulty. Everything has been done by a special interest group or just written in political blogs and forums. There appear to be no studies of the efficacy of things like the Gun Free School Zones, just arguments that mass shootings happen in Gun Free Zones.
To use a cliché here, the plural of anecdote is not data. Yes, a lot of public shootings have happened in Gun Free Zones, but that’s partially because so many public places are Gun Free Zones. Statistically, it’s not surprising. But if we’re using anecdotes to make points, let’s look at a couple of things that don’t survive the bad things don’t happen if someone armed is in the audience, people don’t shoot there — just from the last few years.
2009 Fort Hood Shooting
If there’s any argument against the idea that trained people with weapons have the ability to stop this sort of thing, it’s the Fort Hood Shooting. One gunman killed 13 people and wounded another 29 on a military base. Almost everyone he shot was a trained member of the military or police force. He had a shoot out with police, which he won, and continued to shoot more people.
2011 Tuscon Shooting
Gabby Giffords was shot at a public event in a gun-friendly state and one of the men who helped subdue Loughner was carrying a gun. You know how they stopped the shooter? He had to reload, at which point there was an opening for people to tackle him. He was not shot, he was tackled and held down by several people in the crowd. If that’s not an argument for smaller clips, I don’t know what is. And it certainly doesn’t support the evil people hear “gun free zone” as a smorgasbord opportunity.
2012 Empire State Building Shooting
11 people were shot — one by the gunman, one was the gunman himself, and 9 people who were shot by the police trying to get the gunman. Yes, more guns are clearly the answer to keeping people from being hurt.
And, of course, the mother in the most recent shooting was well-armed and well-trained and she didn’t managed to stop her son from killing her and the kindergarteners. This is not victim blaming, it’s the reality of the power-differences between someone who is crazy and wants to shoot people and even the most well-trained person who finds themselves suddenly faced with insanity in the middle of their routine day.
And then there are all the other incredibly wrong-headed things that the NRA said, I’ll just put them here for you, but feel free to read the whole thing yourself.
A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?
Yes, I think every person who ever took a Xanax should be in a registry to stigmatize them and make them seem like killers despite the fact that this would be such a huge registry that it would be useless and it would only serve to make sure people who needed mental health care would avoid seeking it out to avoid being on the registry. GREAT IDEA.
And the fact is, that wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. Meanwhile, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% — to the lowest levels in a decade.
You know what else is at the lowest levels? Crime.
With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget, we can’t afford to put a police officer in every school?
The average police officer makes $50,406, there are 138,925 schools in the US, which makes the budget of doing this just over $7 billion, without including the extra budget of training and oversight or the fact that most schools would probably need more than one officer. I’m not saying it’s not worth the money to send to education, but is it the best use of the money and is there any way, in this fiscal cliff landscape, that it’s possible to approve an increase in spending of that magnitude? It’s certainly not such a small number that you can ignore the cost as thought it’s negligible.
There’ll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action.We can’t wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work.
But what is the point of acting before we have any reasonable expectation that it will work? I don’t understand why they expect us to understand why their legislation will work? Or why they think questioning that is a bad thing? Can we lose precious time implementing a program that is expensive and completely ineffective?.
And then there’s the question that the NRA didn’t address, one that is an important one — why are people who aren’t well-trained public servants allowed to get their hands on these weapons when we know even the well-trained people don’t always do a good job with them?