Part 2: Gun Control: A Pound of Prevention – Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold

April 17, 2013

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner  and Ed Ingold: –

The cause celebre behind measures aimed at preventing gun violence are the incidents of random violence, where madmen attack innocent and largely helpless people in schools, malls, public transportation and theaters. These so-called “soft” targets have a high density of potential victims who are unlikely to offer much resistance, and are easy to reach. The average response time for emergency help is nearly 30 minutes, whereas the typical attack is over in less than 15 minutes. Notable are:

1. All of the “prevention” offered by lawmakers so far has the unanticipated effect of increasing the number of “soft” targets, whether by disarming honest citizens, or by expanding gun-free zones, which encourage rather than deter criminal

2. While they not be as newsworthy, the vast majority of “soft” targets are not school children, movie goers or shoppers, but those walking on quiet streets, waiting for public transportation, or sitting in the privacy of their homes.

3. The vast majority of offenders are not mass murders looking for notoriety, but thugs, opportunists, bullies and thrill seekers. No amount of “prevention” is going to screen out or disarm those bent on destruction. If we concentrate on one area, like public schools, it may have the unwanted effect of diverting attacks to other “soft” targets, not easily protected due to expense and almost unlimited opportunities for attacks.

So far, we have been spared attacks by individuals or groups prepared for a force-on-force assault, an every day occurrences in the Middle East. This may prove to be a short-lived respite?

Instead, all of the “domestic terror” attacks, except for 9/11, have been executed by people who live in a fantasy bubble, not unlike players of some video games, who wilt in the face of armed resistance.  At the Clackamas Mall in Portland, OR, a day after Sandy Hook, a gunman committed suicide after killing two innocent shoppers, when confronted by an ordinary citizen with a gun.

Cho (Virginia Tech), Kazmierczak (NIU), and Lanza (Sandy Hook) committed suicide when police entered the buildings. Holmes (Aurora) waited passively in the parking lot behind the theater. That story is repeated too many times for comfort.

A lot of attention has been directed toward putting armed guards in schools, which is reasonable considering the need to protect our most vulnerable and precious resource, our children. What about parking lots, theaters, malls and sidewalks? There are fewer than 800,000 law enforcement officers of any sort in the US, about one for every 400 citizens. Would we even tolerate a more conspicuous police presence, without fearing for our freedom?

Part of the answer is already available. 49 states, with the sole exception of Illinois plus Washington DC, allow citizens to carry firearms for self defense. Of these 40 do not require any special “need”, and issue permits unless otherwise proscribed. Some, like California, New York and Maryland, issue permits only to public officials, celebrities and millionaires.   

There have been no “OK Corral” scenarios (except on the part of the NYPD), and there has been a significant and salutatory reduction in violent crime, other than homicide, in those 40 shall-issue states. Homicides have decreased about 30% nationwide since 1993, continuing to decrease unabated after the first AWB expired in 2004. Aggravated assaults, including robbery and home invasions have decreased nearly 50% in that time frame, EXCEPT in states with draconian gun control laws, where these crimes have increased nearly 20%. (In Great Britain, where nearly all private firearms were confiscated in 2006, violent crime has increased dramatically, and stands at about 5X that in the US. Home invasions are more frequent than burglary of unoccupied homes, and nearly as frequent as muggings and robbery.)

Exactly how do we “harden” attractive targets. One way is to eliminate most “gun-free” zones, which keep licensed citizens from carrying firearms where most needed. Wisconsin enforces a 1000 foot gun-free radius around K-12 schools, but exempts all but school property for licensed carriers. Carry is permitted on college campuses, except for buildings (other than parking structures) when specifically posted by university officials. In most shall-issue states, private businesses can post their buildings under ordinary trespass law, but otherwise have no force of law.

In Utah, concealed-carry-licensed teachers and parents can carry in K-12 classrooms. In general, only courts and legislative bodies, in session, are posted. Significantly, there have been absolutely no occasions where this has caused a problem. The 2% of citizens who avail themselves of the right to bear arms in public aren’t the troublemakers Rahm Emanual and the President routinely associate with guns. On the other hand, criminals who have little to fear from prosecution, but a lot to fear from an armed “victim,” or even an armed witness to a felonious assault. Chicago has a 20% conviction rate for felony arrests. According to the FBI, there were 986 violent or “index” crimes per 100,000 Chicago residents in 2010, but there are no readily available records on the number of arrests for these crimes.

It’s time for solutions, not assaults on our freedom. If we need any law, it could be described as “Contempt of Constitution.” We can all name a few well-known politicians who deserve prosecution under such a law.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Wednesday, April 17.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 08:00 AM | PermalinkTechnorati


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