August 27, 2012

More public shootings, and why are voters so dumb?

So, last week we had a few more public shootings.  The one that caught my eye occurred near the Empire state building where a man gunned down his former boss, and then died himself in a shootout with police.  The interesting thing is that the second shootout involved 9 bystander injuries, and reports suggest that most of them were injured by police bullets.

I am not criticizing the police here.  This was a difficult situation in a public place, but it highlights why I hate the idea of more guns on the street as an answer to public shootings at schools or theaters.  Here, people trained and practiced were unable to just get the bad guy.  What makes gun rights people really think that untrained people in a crowd will do better?


Polling data out says that most people are concentrating on the economy, and on the economy and deficit, Romney gets better marks.  This makes me think that voters are dumb, dumb, and even dumber.  Republicans have, at every step, pledged to stop Obama from getting any traction on the economy, and have killed stimulus bills, middle class tax cuts, programs aimed to help small businesses, and people give the Republicans better marks on the economy?  Seriously?  As I told a friend this morning, this is like a coach who refuses to call any passing plays, then criticizes the QB for his lack of passing yards.

Oh, and Romney pledges to do what now?  Cut taxes on the rich, and slash safety net programs.  No one has said he will actually balance the budget.  He will take away your healthcare though.  Got to love that.


Smitty said...

but it highlights why I hate the idea of more guns on the street as an answer to public shootings at schools or theaters. Here, people trained and practiced were unable to just get the bad guy. What makes gun rights people really think that untrained people in a crowd will do better?

Yes, yes and more yes. I've been saying this forever; if COPS fire a bazilloin rounds and miss their target a bunch...and they're trained to fire rounds in high-stress situations...Bubba Gump with a .38 is going to make a deadly police shootout into a fucking hamburger factory.

steves said...

I know a fair number of trainers and participate on a forum that has a trainer sub-forum. I have no idea how these cops trained, but I know for a fact that most police train very little. Yes, there are some exceptions, such as people that are on SWAT teams, but most police receive very little training and have very simple qualifying requirements.

Most departments have limited budgets and just don't bother with decent training. I am not saying that Bubba Gump will always spend lots on training, but if you look at this incident (and the recent police shooting in Saginaw), you will find that police don't have that great of a track record. Some cops also have some of the most atrocious gun safety skills I have personally seen. Google the following and see what you find:

"police accidental discharge"

There is also a youtube video of a DEA agent shooting himself in the leg after telling an audience he was the only one trained enough to handle a "glock."

I guess I have a hard time understanding why this incident is justification for fewer guns on the streets. Bubba Gump can lawfully carry in most places (though not in NYC, where only celebrities and the politically connected get permits). Despite this, we don't see Bubba and his friends shooting up the place. Despite ominous predictions of "blood in the streets," this has not happened.

steves said...

FWIW, the majority (90%+) of defensive gun uses by non-police involve no shots fired (threat flees once gun is drawn), according to one study. The ones that involve actual shooting are limited to an average of 3-4 shots.

Streak said...

Hmm, so your argument is that since the police are poorly trained, that we should absolutely have more poorly trained people with guns? Sure you want to stick with that?

And by the way, I am a little tired of you using the logical fallacy of "straw man" here. None of us said blood will flow in the streets." We raised a legitimate question in response to the very real gun rights argument that having armed citizens in that theater, or in that classroom, or in that public street would make us safer. That is a legitimate concern, dammit. Not something to just be dismissed--which is why I am so frustrated with the gun rights lobby. You do better than this most times, but give me a freaking break.

BTW, we do have blood in the streets. Just about every day we have another shooting. As someone who gets in front of students every day, that makes me a little nervous. So don't fucking dismiss me for being concerned about it.

steves said...

No, I am saying that using police as examples of what kinds of mistakes "trained" people make is not logical.

It isn't a strawman. You are suggesting that more guns would somehow make people less safe. I am asking you to provide some evidence. We have had "shall issue" concealed carry for some time now. Research from John Lott suggests that crime actually goes down in places where concealed carry is allowed. I am not even making that argument. I am asking for some kind of research that suggests that the public is somehow at risk because of more guns.

Sorry about the blood in the streets reference. Back when concealed carry was ok'ed in Michigan, opponents said that there would be blood in the streets and shootouts at playgrounds (yes, this was actually suggested). This never happened. One of the critics, former governor Granholm, actually apologized for making those comments.

The people doing these shootings, for the most part, are criminals. They don't give a shit about gun laws and aren't deterred by them. Lawful, permit holders aren't the ones shooting up the place and aren't the ones you should be scared of.

I honestly don't know if having armed citizens in the places you mentioned would help in all cases. I do know that the majority of mass shootings take place in areas where you can't carry. Since these psychos probably pick these places because they are guaranteed to have no resistance, I fail to see how having armed citizens would make it any worse.

Another consideration in CPL holders using lethal force versus police use of lethal force is that it is kind of an apples to oranges comparison. Cops enjoy a fair amount of immunity to civil and criminal liability. If Bubba and his pals wounded 9 bystanders, I can guarantee they would be sued into bankruptcy. Absent some Walter Mittys, most average citizens have no desire to start blasting away. Cops are supposed to intervene, so they are more likely to use force.

steves said...

As an aside, do you know what kind of training the average person gets? I don't know about Oklahoma, but I am an instructor in MI, so I know what people get here, at the bare minimum.

If you ever come here, I will lake you take the class for free. That way, you can see what is being presented.

Streak said...

Actually, I was simply asking why adding more guns to the streets would make us more safe. The straw man was in reference to the blood in the streets.

What annoys the living crap out of me is that as a teacher, who is often in classrooms where the exits are on the other side from the students, I am just told to suck it and assume that more guns are better. My concern for my safety is not valuable. Only those of second amendment people.

steves said...

Are you worried that you could be hurt by some nutjob on a rampage or are you worried that some person with a permit is going to hurt you?

Streak said...

I am afraid of both. We already have armed guards patrolling the campus and they don't appear to be the best trained. Add a nutjob and someone with a gun permit and I don't exactly feel safe.

Smitty said...

You're right, steve, in that I am using a logical fallacy to argue that somehow I presciently *know* that adding more guns to the streets will yield a bloodbath. I can't argue the point with any real veracity until I finally take the time to dig for some research that's more than just one single study.

I'll go hunt around on Lott's page. The problem (and this is cynical) with public/social policy research is its bent; its bias. I *want* to find an answer I like about, say, shall-issue CCWs, so I *will* find an answer I like. I'm not saying Lott did/does this; I haven't been to his web site yet and maybe if I'm so bored that even masturbation ceases to pass the time, perhaps I'll go check it out!

In all seriousness, though, I do have problems with studies citing that CCW access or increased ownership flexibility shows a marked decrease in crime. As you state: "Since these psychos probably pick these places because they are guaranteed to have no resistance, I fail to see how having armed citizens would make it any worse."

Do they? Do criminals really have the foresight to say "hey, nobody has guns in Podunkville, NB, so let's go there and bring our guns!" Are there possibly other social factors for decreases in certain areas of violent or otherwise armed crime? How do these studies *know* that it is the presence of CPLs that directly led to decreases in violent/armed crime? Are there other factors that contribute to where mass shooting take place other than a casual (casual, not causal) link between mass shootings and places with tighter "gun control?" Factors such as...that's just where the shooter happened to live? To suggest a stronger link is to suggest a forethought along the lines of "hey, I'm psycho. I'm gonna move to Gunssuckberg, VA so's I can lose my shit and shoot-up the place."

*(I recognize that NB and VA may have gun laws that are more or less favorable...I just pulled 2 states out of my ass to illustrate a point)

Streak said...

But Gunssuckberg, VA is a real place, isn't it? :)

steves said...

Campus security here is kind of a joke, too. I know a few local cops and they consistently make fun of MSU DPS. My single run in with them as an undergrad didn't impress me either.

Smitty, crime studies are hard to separate out causal factors. Lott has done some extensive research on this topic, and so has FSU criminology professor, Gary Kleck. There is evidence that shows declining violent crime in states that liberalize concealed carry, but I suppose it could be due to some other factor.

I can't recall the source, but there was a study that interviewed inmates convicted of robbery or theft and most indicated that they sought targets that they knew were unarmed or not likely to be armed.

Again, I can't say that, without a doubt, having loose gun carry laws makes us safer. That being said, I also can't say that having strict gun laws appears to make us any safer either. There are occasions when permit holders act dangerously or violently, but statistics seem to show that this group is way below average when it comes to this.

Gunssuckburg is a real place. I know a guy that just got back from doing a tour in Asscrackistan that lives there.

Sorry that masturbation is losing it's fun. You need better porn.

Smitty said...

but there was a study that interviewed inmates convicted of robbery or theft and most indicated that they sought targets that they knew were unarmed or not likely to be armed.

In criminality, that's about as close to causality as you'll get, I suppose! If there's a body of work on that, that'd be really compelling (meaning further studies, other interviews, etc).

But that's compelling on person-to-person crimes. Mass shootings I think are distinctly different, and for the most part, they seem to lack the cool calculation of the interviewees you allude to above. Where those interviewees carefully considered a target along certain lines of logic, these mass shootings seem to be irrational and...well...fucking crazy.

I forget the rest of my point. Probably just to sound thoughtful and conciliatory.

steves said...

I don't know what the size of the interview population was, so I am cautious about making a broad generalization.

Streak said...

I understand I cannot stop nor avoid some wackjob. I am just suggesting that I am a little tired of gun people assuring me that more guns will make me safer. I don't want a gun, and am not really trying to take theirs away. Why do they keep telling me that they want to bring their gun to every place I am? Church? School? Etc.

I would respect gun owners more if they seemed to respect non-gun owners. I don't get much of that. You are the closest.