Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rational Solutions

I read an interesting article recently in Concealed Carry magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6, August/September 2014 entitled What Have We Learned About School Shooters by Michael Martin. Sorry, I don't have a link. I read the (horrors) paper version. In the article, Mr. Martin took apart several of the so called solutions offered by the anti gun crowd to school shootings in particular, and mass public shootings in general, by analysing actual statistics from each.

One such solution is to limit legal magazine capacity to variously 5,or 10 rounds.  Martin decided to test whether limits on magazines would have any affect on the outcome. He used live fire tests, shooting at a conservative rate of fire of 2 rounds per second, with magazine changes as required, and came up with the amount of rounds fired in one minute for magazines containing 5, 10, and 30 rounds. He then compared the actual rounds fired for a given shooting incident, and the time the event lasted, and found that all were well below the rates of fire achievable with even a 5 round magazine. His conclusion was that limiting magazine capacity has no effect on the number of people killed or injured in a school shooting.

Martins work confirmed in my mind that the goal of limiting magazine capacity was for reasons other than to solve the school shooting problem.  As soon as news of another school shooting appeared on the wires, hysterical people, most of whom wouldn't know which end of a gun to point at the target, began crying that if only the shooter had less rounds, the damage would have been limited.  The numbers touted by the antis seem to be grabbed out of thin air and have always struck me as more of a marker. If they can limit magazine capacity at all, they can then squeeze the number down later. The point is to get the precedent into law.

He then look at time the killers had without armed intervention to see if that affected the outcome.  He notes that in the case of the Aurora theater shootings, the first 911 call was made within 90 seconds, and the police  arrived in record time, but the killer still had 9 minutes during which to shoot victims unimpeded by anyone with gun to stop him.  Ft. Hood represents a similar situation.  Although a military base, with many guns on base, those guns are locked in an armory, and the base is essentially a gun free zone.  The Ft. Hood killer had 10 minutes to kill anyone he could find, before station security forces were able to respond, and bring him down.

So what is the rational solution, if limiting magazine capacity is not it?  Martin thinks, as do I, that eliminating the legally required "gun free zones" is at least a major part of the answer.  He notes that the Aurora theater killer passed up a number of movie theaters closer to his home that were showing the same movie that night. Instead he chose the Aurora theater.  What is so special about that theater?  Well, the one difference was that the Aurora theater had a no guns sign on the door, and the others did not.

The law is fundamentally based on a belief system.  People generally obey that law either because that believe that doing so protects everyone, or they believe that the potential penalties present too great a risks to their life or liberty should they get caught (I sadly suspect that more people fall into the later category than into the former.)  Moreover, having effective enforcement of a law ensures compliance by all but the most hardened criminals.  So, if you want to declare that schools must be gun free, then you have to treat them like a court house, with armed security roaming the hallways, and manning magnetometers at each entrance.  And while that level of security would pretty much kill the "atmosphere for learning" so touted by educators, nothing less ensures the facility is truly gun free.  Short of that, the law becomes a paper tiger that only the law abiding take notice of.  Yet, the law abiding person can walk through  the school carrying a loaded BAR and no body would get shot.

Mr. Bloomberg's latest attempt to eliminate guns is variously "Every town for Gun Safety" and "Moms demand action on guns."  The Demanding Moms go about the country harassing business large and small demanding that guns not be allowed on their property.  They have managed to elicit luke warm responses from Starbucks and Target which amount to a plea that guns be left out of their stores.  The latest target is Kroger, which chain seems to be holding the line.  Good on them.  These Demanding Moms claim a "right" not to be around anyone who happens to be carrying a gun, whether they know it or not.  They are so sure of that "right," they even have put up "no guns" signs even when the business turned them down, because they no better what the business owners interests are than the business owner does.  What many business owners have concluded is that their best defense against liability claims is to follow state laws.  Otherwise, the only way to enforce a no guns sign is to have armed guards manning magnetometers at the entrance.  Somehow, I don't feel very much like eating in a prison, do you?

Interestingly, I agree with the Demanding Moms in this:  that they, their children, and everybody else should be able to walk everywhere they want in complete safety.  But that vision is of a perfect world, not the world we have.  The world we have is messy, and not everyone plays by the rules.  Shocking, I know.  But, how I choose to deal with reality should be of no concern to anyone else.