Mutual Assured Destruction

After yet another mass shooting, this one claiming 28 lives in Newtown, Connecticut at a local elementary school, right-wing politicians including Texas Governor Rick Perry are calling for students and/or teachers to be allowed to carry guns at school so they can defend themselves from future massacres.

11 thoughts on “Mutual Assured Destruction

  1. After Texas secedes from the United States, let Republic of Texas President Rick Perry do it his way and the rest of us will see how this laboratory experiment works out.

  2. After Texas secedes from the United States, let Republic of Texas President Rick Perry do it his way and the rest of us will see how this laboratory experiment works out.

  3. The idiocy of this argument that we should arm everyone is beyond comprehension -if not that I have family members who are ardent proponents of it. THis is just about selling more guns and making more money, regardless of the cost. The cost in the lives of other peoples’ children is never too high for the NRA to get their way…and their way is to push higher sales no matter what. It’s OK with them if this country turns into a war zone of perpetual shotouts anywhere and everywhere. It serves their fantasies.

  4. The only objection is that WMDs for kids would be inflationary for kiddie allowances? We do have a “the financial cliff” to consider, don’tcha know!

    Instead, we simply deploy a drone for each school. All translocating, infra-red emitting entities, not sending proper ID from implanted transponders, would be zapped before entering school buildings.

  5. Many years ago, there was a comedy group called the Firesign Theatre – they suggested that “people were no damn good” and that “in the future, every person will be handcuffed to their own personal police officer”. I guess that may be another suggestion along this line of reasoning – simply arm every person with a responsible armed police officer. Still – in the face of the facts that we are No. 1 in putting people in jail and prisons, and that we are # 37 in healthcare ( healthcare includes mental healthcare), and that we have an undeniable history of massive violence – it might be a good idea to stop and consider the fact that “maybe we are so ignorant and thoughtless, that we can’t help but kill each other?” Is this a natural tendency for us? Now that we have the Internet and anyone can say anything they want – look and see what you get – even here on Ted’s blog, i’ve seen people wishing death on other bloggers or telling them they are idiots or worse. Hate is as hate does, I guess…

  6. ——[snip]

    “The idiocy of this argument that we should arm everyone is beyond comprehension…”

    [snip]——

    I wish someone would actually make the case for *not* arming teachers.

    “It’s crazy,” “It’s all about selling guns,” don’t make an argument.

    I grew up in New York with its Sullivan law. All my liberal friends and I knew carry permits and handgun possession were crazy. Guns in private hands? Who could argue for such a thing?

    Forty-five years later I live in two states, one with carry permits and one without. I am much, much more comfortable sitting in a theater with a little pistol in my shoulder bag in state number one.

    In state number two, New York, I stand on crowded subway platforms and wonder what we’d feel, standing there empty handed, if a crazy/terrorist came walking toward us shooting as he or she came.

    Found myself standing near Mayor Bloomberg and was moved to say something to him about his stand on handguns. I couldn’t get close enough. His two armed guards were in the way. No kidding.

    Why not train and arm teachers? Israel did after a school shooting disaster in 1974 and terrorists chose other targets.

    Just because the NRA (Right Wing and political to the core, yes) suggests armed defense of schools doesn’t make it crazy.

    What am I missing?

  7. Aggie,

    The point of the argument (arm everyone) isn’t that it won’t work. The NRA knows that the plan won’t work. They also know that the plan (arm everyone) will never be implemented. They are distracting everyone until Justin Bieber gets a new hairstyle or a new diet plan is discovered. Even trained cops, in the heat of the moment, have terrible hit rates. I’m sure Google has the details of what the ratio is for Dead Bad Guys to Innocent Bystanders shot by cops in the middle of a massacre.

    BillMasi,

    You make a reasonable set of comments, meaning you aren’t one of the frothing-at-the-mouth troglodytes who insist on the rightness of the gun from the very beginning, so, as fairly as I can, here’s the answer:

    “I am much, much more comfortable sitting in a theater with a little pistol in my shoulder bag in state number one. In state number two, New York, I stand on crowded subway platforms and wonder what we’d feel, standing there empty handed, if a crazy/terrorist came walking toward us shooting as he or she came.
    Found myself standing near Mayor Bloomberg and was moved to say something to him about his stand on handguns. I couldn’t get close enough. His two armed guards were in the way. No kidding. Why not train and arm teachers? Israel did after a school shooting disaster in 1974 and terrorists chose other targets.
    Just because the NRA (Right Wing and political to the core, yes) suggests armed defense of schools doesn’t make it crazy. What am I missing?”

    Okay. Let me take the first example, the movie theater. Someone starts shooting. What do you do?

    No. You don’t get to ask for extra information. You see, you don’t have the time. No one can hear you over the soundtrack. It’s very dark. People are probably screaming and running. You’ve got your gun in your hand. BANG! BANG! The person three people behind you, who also had his gun, thought YOU were the one with the gun doing the crazy shooting. One bullet clipped you on the ear (a simple fix). The second bullet tore into your lung after punching a hole in your back. You manage to hang on long enough to be wheeled into surgery. But you have a stroke in the recovery room (it happens). You linger for a few months and then die. The well-intended man three rows behind you? The one who shot you because he thought YOU were the maniac? He starts drinking. Eventually he hangs himself.

    Your “comfort” is similar to the “comfort” I have in a tall building. You see, I’m scared to death of heights. I mean, really, really scared of heights. If I stand near a window on a high floor, I can feel myself start to get faint. But I have absolutely no problems leaning against the wall RIGHT NEXT to the window. Even though I’m still the same distance in the air, hundreds of feet above the sidewalk. The real situation is that the window, the wall, the gun, the non-gun, are all meaningless to the reality: if someone starts shooting, if the wall peels away and pulls me with it like in the Roadrunner cartoons, the situation is, mostly, out of my hands. But you, me, the guy on the street, we all need psychological reassurance. But you can’t make good policy on a real problem by handing out security blankets.

    The subway? I take the subway every day pretty much. A gun? We’re back to the same problem. Here comes the subway with a loud, shrill noise as it pulls into the station. A gun? You’d never hear it. Or someone would wait until rush hour, walk up to the train right as the door’s closing, pull the gun, empty the clip. You really think the gun will help you in that circumstance? It won’t.

    If someone came shooting as they approached, you MIGHT have time. Go ahead, try it. Grab your purse, open it, grab for the gun, yank it out, aim, fire. Damn! You had the safety on. Quick, flip that little lever. Aim. Fire. If there’s a lot of people on the platform, and if you can shoot around them all, AND plug the crazy, it’ll be great (again, assuming someone behind you doesn’t plug you first, or the crazy doesn’t see you doing all that prep and shoot you first).

    As for Mr. Bloomberg’s security. Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, etc. Ask ANY security team. They’ll tell you the same thing: We can make it difficult, very difficult, for a crazy to get to Politician X, but if someone REALLY, REALLY wants to punch a particular ticket, it can be done. Want proof of that? Make a facebook post about how you want to kill a particular politician. If it couldn’t be done, no one would really care. Put oh my, these things are taken quite seriously. Why? Because you can’t make anyone bulletproof.

    As for training and arming teachers. You do realize teachers go nuts, right? They have nervous breakdowns right in the classroom. Putting guns in their hands? There are faster ways of killing students, but none will get the job done with more certainty. Yes, the Israeli schools don’t get shot up (or, at least, we don’t hear about it as much), but, as you point out, other targets are selected instead. You aren’t solving a problem, you’re just spreading it out. McDonald’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Boy Band concert, etc., all of them are potential death zones.

    Armed defense of schools IS crazy. Why? In Counselor Troi-speak, it’s called “escalating the situation.” You put metal detectors in high schools. What’s the reaction by some of the kids? They sneak a gun in because NOW it isn’t just a gun, it’s also proof of how the kid is smarter than the adults: all that tech and he defeats it. So now you’ve got a cop in every school. The kid comes in, shoots the cop in the back of the head, picks up his gun, and just keeps going.

    You asked a fair question set, and I have tried to answer it fairly, albeit very lengthy (sorry everyone). I’d like to close with three things:

    One. There’s a line in Deep Space 9. Shapeshifters have infiltrated Starfleet. So everyone starts insisting on blood tests to be sure the person is “real.” And Sisko (the lead character) confronts his father and demands a blood test from him. His father grudgingly consents. And after the test “proves” the Elder Sisko is actually Sisko’s father, he chews out his son, telling him that “There isn’t a test that’s been created a smart man can’t find his way around.”

    Two. In “The Shining,” (the book, not the movie), Jack Torrance, explaining about cabin fever, describes the guy who plays solitaire in the cabin, and starts to go a little crazy. So he cheats a little, and thinks about killing his wife. And then he cheats some more, and thinks a little more — then a lot more — about killing his wife.

    Three. In “Silence of the Lambs,” Lecter points out that the crazy in that movie (who skins women to make a girl suit) didn’t just show up one day, “Our Billy wasn’t born a criminal, Clarice. He was made one through years of systematic abuse.” Lanza probably wasn’t abused. But whatever turned him into what he was took years, and if/when the careful dissection of the timeline is done, we’re going to see, literally, dozens of people who knew something was wrong.

    The people who do these things are never stupid. They spend a lot of time in their “cabin” thinking through the details, egging themselves on, getting themselves used to the ideas that are filling their heads, and it takes a long, long time for the crazy person to get there.

  8. Good to see, Ted, that you are standing up for «weapons parity», otherwise known as «levelling the playing field». You haven’t thought of collaberating with that chief journalistic leveler of (other peoples’) playing fields, Thomas Lauren Friedman, have you ?…

    Henri

  9. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

    I notice that all of your individual points are predicated on the same one: “This will NOT work.” From that presupposition it’s fairly easy to imagine situations in which each of my scenarios is shot down.

    Wonder if your response might have been different if you’d followed the Aristotelian notion that one can entertain ideas without necessarily endorsing them.

    You “theater” conclusion might have been, “You know, Bill, the fellow three rows behind you might have shot you, instead. But I’ll grant that if you’d managed to kill the original shooter, the families of all those killed and wounded in Aurora would have been grateful to you.”

    If I’d suggested arming ushers in churches, there’s no doubt you’d have pointed out how crazy the idea is, how more innocents might have died… but there is a case of an armed church usher, a woman, killed a fellow who entered a church clearly bent on mass killing:

    http://themoderatevoice.com/16434/new-life-church-female-security-guard-shoots-gunman-dead-at-church/

    ———————

    To the point of the CT school: you don’t address the question, “What if the principal of the school had been armed and trained and had managed to kill the intruder before he’d killed twenty of her students?”

    I really do know you. I understand perfectly where you’re coming from. “People carrying guns is crazy on the face of it.” I was there once myself.

    My suggestion is that given the world we live in with millions of guns on the street, with no possibility of enough attention being paid to the crazies before they run amok (was a therapist in another life) and with all the routes in young mens’ heads that preparation for violence has, from video games to movies to the daily news, we might need reconsider our liberal certainties.

    Thanks for the conversation. I’d like to end with the wish for, “A better New Year to us all,” but the words would not ring true.

    “God help us all,” – including those hearing drones overhead as I write – seems more to the point.

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