Monday, December 17, 2012

Ban Gun-Free Zones

Image HT: Wintery Knight
By now, nearly all my US readers and a goodly portion of my overseas ones have likely heard about the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting rampage that left 20 children and 6 adults dead at Sandy Hook elementary, not including the suspected shooter's mother, who was slain off-site, or the suspect himself.  Before I touch on a post over at WinteryKnight's place--from whence I drew the title of this post--allow me to enter into the record this excerpt of research extracted from Newsletter 218 of the Force Science Institute:*
Ron Borsch, who monitors active killing incidents worldwide, has released his latest statistical summary, indicating that the frequency of these bloody events is continuing to escalate and that the interruption of a suspect’s murderous rampage is most likely to be initiated by a single citizen or LEO.
Borsch, manager of the Southeast Area Law Enforcement Regional Training Academy in Bedford, OH, tracks what he terms Rapid Mass Murder (RMM): four or more persons slain within 20 minutes in a public place.
He also tallies attempted RMMs: incidents that would likely have reached the four-victim level had they not been aborted. Attempts, he concedes, are a case-by-case judgment call, determined by the number of persons wounded, the weapons and ammunition the offender had, suicide notes, and/or other evidence suggesting apparent intent.
Among Borsch’s findings:
+ RMMs are at a record high. From 1975 through the Columbine massacre, “successful” and attempted RMMs in the US and abroad averaged one per year. Post-Columbine through 2010, the yearly average was four. Last year there were eight, and the total for 2012 through Thanksgiving was 9.
+ Statistically, the most dangerous months are March (23%) and April (16%), with September and December tied at 11%.
+ Schools (pre-school through 12th grade) are target 38% of the time; colleges/universities 17%; and churches/religious facilities 10%.
+ Intervention occurs to stop the killing in just over half the incidents, Borsch estimates. Of known aborts, two-thirds are accomplished by civilians and one-third by law enforcement.
+ Citizens for the most part act unarmed, and eight out of 10 times their intervention is initiated by a single actor. “When law enforcement successfully stops RMM,” Borsch reports, “the abort is initiated by a solo officer seven out of 10 times.“ 
+ Borsch has found examples of successful two-officer and three-officer intervention on occasion, but he says he has “never been able to objectively document a case where four or more officers acting together in a formation have been able to stop RMM.”
* FSI is subscription only, a subscription gained only by submitting a lot of personally identifiable information.  However, they publish their list of available newsletters here, after a lag time of a few weeks/months.

Takeaways: (1) Gun-free zones, like educational institutions and sports arena create very tempting, soft targets for those intent on doing a lot of evil in a short amount of time.  (2) RMMs are increasing in frequency. (3) A single civilian with a tactical mindset (IOW, a sheepdog), or a lone LEO are most likely to stop the RMM.

Conclusions: (1) Being in a gun-free zone poses an additional risk to your life. (2) Homeschool or die, physically as in the case of Newtown, Columbine, Santee, Paducah, Jonesboro, Springfield (Ore), or worldwide as one may see here, or politically/morally/socially as one may see here. (3) Many more RMM "aborts" would occur if the tactically minded sheepdog(s) were armed...when seconds count, LEOs are minutes away. (4) SWAT-style dynamic entry interventions are not effective at stopping RMMs in a timely manner, likely because of the time it takes to assemble and dispatch a team.

Now on to Wintery Knight's post.  First, he links to this editorial in USA Today, by Instapundit, aka Glen Reynolds:
Plenty of people...[would] be much more comfortable seeing ordinary Americans disarmed. And whenever there is a mass shooting, or other gun incident that snags the headlines, they do their best to exploit the tragedy and push for laws that would, well, take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.
There are a lot of problems with this approach, but one of the most significant is this one: It doesn’t work. One of the interesting characteristics of mass shootings is that they generally occur in places where firearms are banned: malls, schools, etc....
Policies making areas “gun free” provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking, but in practice, of course, killers aren’t stopped by gun-free zones. As always, it’s the honest people — the very ones you want to be armed — who tend to obey the law.
Adding to the pile on comes John Lott of "More Guns, Less Crime" fame:
Because America has the most guns, multiple-victim public shootings are an American thing, right? No, not at all. Contrary to public perception, Western Europe, most of whose countries have much tougher gun laws than the United States, has experienced many of the worst multiple-victim public shootings. Particularly telling, all the multiple-victim public shootings in Western Europe have occurred in places where civilians are not permitted to carry guns. The same is true in the United States: All the public shootings in which more than three people have been killed have occurred in places where civilians may not legally bring guns.
It may be a surprise to those who believe in gun control that Germany was home to three of the five worst attacks. Though not quite as tight as the U.K.’s regulations, Germany’s gun-control laws are some of the most restrictive in Europe. German gun licenses are valid for only three years, and to obtain one, the person must demonstrate such hard-to-define characteristics as trustworthiness, and must also convince authorities that he needs a gun. 
The phenomenon is not limited to school attacks. Multiple-victim public shootings in general appear to be at least as common in Western Europe as they are here. 
It isn't the gun that kills. A firearm is an inanimate object; it is the criminal intent on doing so that pulls the trigger.  And the wolves--the vast majority of whom are men with no/low attachment, the subject of a different, later post--find their pool of ready targets in places where the sheepdogs aren't. Or are disarmed before they can enter.

Rather than infringe upon the common man's natural-law right to defend himself, it would be better to outlaw gun-free zones.  You can't stop crazy with rules crazy doesn't observe....but 350-450 ft-lbs (the energy delivered by a .45) just may.

Update: Seems the shooter's parents divorced three years ago. I'm not sure how much to make of it, since the divorce happened when he was nearly of the age of majority, but it is certainly an interesting data point that may help explain why this happened.


Zorro said...

"Gun-Free Zone" says two things, and two things only:

1. (To law-abiding citizens): You are not allowed to protect yourself.


2. (To vermin criminal psychopaths): Nobody will put up a fight here.

Gun-Free Zones are an invitation to carnage. To walk into one is to willfully request extermination.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Too true. What I would like to see is tort/liability lawsuits against the businesses and governments that make their buildings/places "gun free"...denying those that enter their right to self-defense..and then fail to properly secure the premises.

Of course, every time a ghoul breaches security, that's prima facie evidence of not properly securing the premises.

okrahead said...

Well, let's see what we could do... We could enact gun laws just like Mexico, where civilians cannot own guns, and then we will have a safe, civilized nation just like Mexico...
Okay, so maybe that won't work. Maybe we should just outlaw anything a criminal actually used. You know, like diesel fuel and fertilizer. And box cutters. And jetliners. Because if jetliners were illegal, 9/11 would never have happened...

Steve said...

I am skeptical of Borsch's numbers. This article says mass killings are down:

I could not find what number of people need to be killed to ve considered a mass killing for the article above. Perhaps that is where the discrepancy lies. I would like to know what the break out is for countries and RMM as I wonder if this is up in other countries but not the U.S.

This kind of data seems somewhat murky to me hence emotionalism rules the day with regard to guns.

empathological said...

All manner of social pathology come together at the box labeled DIVORCE on the flow chart of offending individuals lives

whoism3 said...


pause at the 1:00 mark.

puts the whole video in context.

Christina said...

Well...someone gets it...

Elusive Wapiti said...


"Well, let's see what we could do"

Or we could also ban guns like the UK did in 2001, and watch violent crime zoom-climb into the stratosphere.

John Fund wrote at NRO yesterday that the top 3 school shootings were in the UK or Germany...places that have far stricter gun laws than we do.

Silly liberals. Impervious to data, they are.

wanderling said...

tighter gun control is no brainer, this means outlawing semi,automatics, gun shops on every corner, getting them sold only by closely licensed reputable dealers and greater background checks with enforceable heavy fines on all sellers who sell without submitting background clearances on the sellee. I live in a country with gun control, where we dont have regular massacres and i have never seen a gun shop, i dont even know where u would buy one. It works.

Elusive Wapiti said...


Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, our ability to drill down into Borsch's data is frustrated by the heavy personal-info-required nature of the site his research is published at.

But yes, the data seems to conflict. No matter to me, though: school shootings + terrible moral teachings + horrible school performance + liberalist political teachings = I'm not sending my child to public school until he's way older, if at all.

Elusive Wapiti said...

@ Empath,

"All manner of social pathology come together at the box labeled DIVORCE..."

Yup. Thus far it's only MRA sites who have noted the...interesting...correlation with the Lamza mum's (likely) frivorce and her being #1 on the death list.

But no, never mind, nothing to see here. Gotta have our autonomy, no matter how many kids whose lives are ruined and bystanders die.

Elusive Wapiti said...

@ whoism3:

I reviewed that very video, and made note of the "gun free" decal on the door, here.

Ironic, that a video entitled "run/hide/fight" would have the very thing that makes such a target soft on such prominent display.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Thanks for the link, Christina. A post with a HT on deck for tomorrow.

Elusive Wapiti said...


Pray tell, Wanderling, how all of the glorious measures you discuss above would have altered the outcome here one iota?

Also, John Fund's NRO article is illustrative of the efficacy of the sort of draconian gun bans in Europe, specifically the UK and Germany.

JJ Rockmale said...

Right on EW; the fact is this in my mind-this could be a year the government is behind half of these. Most of these kids are all one demographic. White, and clinically crazy.

I might be totally talking out my rear end, but our government could very well be engineering a solution searching for a problem.

The current administration is hell bent on submitting to UN rules; and the UN and those in our government have been engineering so many disasters I am left wondering if they are not incompetent; are they perhaps involved?

If not, this is a growing tragedy that keeps reoccurring. I believe arming our citizens is the best option.

Imagine a school with numerous armed teachers and staff in that same scenario. I suspect their might have been a worse disaster sure; I also suspect there would have been less of one too.

If every one has guns, yeah, police may have a hard time. THe thing is though, when everyone has guns and their own "turf" they tend to defend that turf. Couple it with a mandatory 3-week stint in jail for self defense if you absolutely must; but institute the citizens ability to ensure their own safety.

Imagine if the law abiding citizens had guns in the ghettos and formed anti-gangster coalition Especially if led by their returning vets? That would be hilarious to me when the gangstas get a piece of their own fear and call it quits.

Kathy Farrelly said...

I am afraid Wanderling is right. (yikes never thought I'd say that)

Powerful weapons used in combat should be banned, and there should be tighter gun controls. Stringent checks carried out on prospective gun owners.

What was Nancy Lanza (a woman basically on her own) doing with such high powered weapons, and why weren't they locked up securely?

I am sorry, but these controls do work. I live in Australia. Since the gun laws were tightened in 1996 after the Port Arthur Massacre, there has never been another one here. Of course there are gun related deaths, but not of the magnitude of those in the U.S.

The fact is, that if Lanza hadn't had access to such a high powered combat type of weapon, the number of deaths would certainly have been fewer, at the very least.

We Australians will just never understand why so many Americans need to have so many high powered guns.

What's wrong with tighter gun controls?

If Adam Lanza had never been taught to use guns by his gun owning mother (who had a collection of them that should have been locked away) this shy reclusive young man who rarely spoke to anyone would
more than likely have not committed such a heinous crime.

He had no previous criminal record.

Certainly if he had been in Australia, there would not have been access to such a high powered gun.

Something has to be done. 20 children dead. Shocking!

wanderling said...

Pray tell, Wanderling, how all of the glorious measures you discuss above would have altered the outcome here one iota?

Considering the guns were his mother's and I'm assuming she had no MH issues or criminal history, you are, technically, correct, a background check on her would not have resulted in her being refused a sale of guns, however, you have what, 9 massacres per year now in the US? The last one in my country was in 1996. Straight afterwards the government bought back guns from 140,000 owners and banned the sale of many types of guns.
Now maybe it's just luck as there are a quite a lot of knife and machete related killings in my country, but that doesn't detract from common sense. Common sense says, don't sell guns in grocery stores, do proper background checks, don't sell military style weapons to the average citizen and penalise heavily anyone who fails to abide by proper registration and licensing practices. Cars are also a deadly weapon, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you do have driver's license tests, mandatory, yearly registration and background checks on drivers in your country, no?

wanderling said...

Also apparently he had a medical condition where he could not feel any physical pain. If this is legit, you can add that to your data point, in addition to the divorce.

wanderling said...

As for a "gun-free zone". In my country that means, security guards are at the door, there is a conveyer built and x-ray of your bags and you walk through a metal detector.

No point having a gun-free zone unless you actually back it up with security measures.

wanderling said...

Also considering you are laying the blame for this massacre at the feet of the first victim, please inform us as to how you know that his mother instigated the divorce and that her reasons for doing so were indeed frivolous, as opposed to you know, the husband cheating on her, unless of course she should just have taken that in her stride. Thanks, I'll wait.

Kathy Farrelly said...

Sheesh Wanderling.!
How about putting that baseball bat away.

Christina said...

please inform us as to how you know that his mother instigated the divorce

You can learn that the wife initiated the divorce Here.

This excerpt:
About nine months after Nancy filed for the divorce, the two worked out an in agreement that included joint custody of their son Adam, who was 17 at the time. As part of their parental agreement, Adam was to live primarily with his mother, with Peter permitted "liberal visitation and vacations."

Would suggest that the divorce was amicable and the post on the reasons for divorce that EW posted previously would continue to affirm that this divorce was, most probably, frivolous.

newrebeluniv said...

Powerful weapons used in combat should be banned, and there should be tighter gun controls. Stringent checks carried out on prospective gun owners.

The caliber responsible for the most murders in the USA over the past 100 years is the .22LR. The smallest of the calibers. It was one of the pistols used at the VT shooting. EVERY GUN IS A POWERFUL LETHAL WEAPON THAT COULD BE USED IN COMBAT. That said. The weapons that were used in this case were NOT combat weapons (fully automatic) but sport versions that are suitable for civilian market purposes.

There are two types of people who should not own guns: Criminals and crazy people. There are ZERO ways to identify either type of person except for past criminal and crazy activity. Both of which are already checked before every purchase of a new gun in teh USA. There are already stiff financial and criminal penalties for gun dealers that don't enforece that and there are tons of BATFE agents going from store to store looking.

There aren't gun stores on every corner in the USA either. In Washington DC, there are no gun stores at all and only one licenced dealer to make legal transfers.

What was Nancy Lanza (a woman basically on her own) doing with such high powered weapons,...
because women on their own shouldn't own weapons? In what country does that make sense besides Saudi Arabia? All guns are "high powered". If it can kill a squirrel, it can kill a person. And who died and made you king to decide what things other people should and shouldn't have? Was her car too big for her needs? Her house sure was. Maybe she had too many pairs of shoes too. If she had a legitimate fear that our nation is being overrun by third world immigrants and she might have to defend her big house from roving packs of thieves all by herself, then having a good quality American made semi-automatic carbine is a really sensible choice both for effectiveness and cost.

... and why weren't they locked up securely?

How securely do they need to be to keep a determined 20 year old adult from getting to them? Especially an adult who has ready access to everything else in the house includeing bolt cutters and key rings?


newrebeluniv said...

There is a lot of buzz about the gun free zones attracting loonies. But I don't think loon minds work that way. I think that people are drawn to kill in schools because they associate those locations with their own traumatic childhoods (real or imagined). Nor do I happen to think that arming all the teachers would matter from a point of deterrence. The motivations of crazy people don't follow predictable paths. That is why we call them crazy. Yet they may still retain enough sensibility to avoid dangerous areas like the concealed carry teacher's lounge and strike instead at the principal's office (source of emotional angst).

newrebeluniv said...

For the record. I keep multiple high powered weapons loaded and totally unsecured in my house and a "stockpile" of ammunition. They are in easy reach of my 18 year old daughter and have been since she was 12. She knows where they are. If she wanted to go on a killing spree at her old high school it would be trivial for her to accomplish it. I showed her how to shoot. (that what dads are for). In fact I just took her to the range Sunday to brush up her skills.

But I'm not worried about her doing that because I DIDN'T RAISE A PSYCHOPATH.

She has unrestricted access to my guns because she might have a need to defend herself while at home and I as her father will not deny her her God Given right to self defense. Instead I will make it one of my main purposes in life to assist her to do that better.

wanderling said...

Not necessarily christina. It may also suggest that the husband just couldnt deal with his crazy son anymore and the libetal access and overcompensatory alimony reflected his guilt at abandonment. Apparently he was also emotionally devastated at the time of divorce, that may have been due to his realisation he could no longer handle his son rather than because his wife said it was over. in any case, the person who pulled the trigger is male, and not female, yet of course victim blaming is going on here simply because a woman was kiled who is conveniently unable to defend herself. so let me repeat it, the blame should be attributed to the killer, not a victim, yes he is male, own it. And kathy, maybe she bought and trained her son to use guns because she saw he was a target for bullies. He shot up a school, so connect the dots. Does that mean all those bullies from his school years are also culpable? If they're male, i guess not.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Possible motive: Lanza's mother may have been attempting to have him committed against his will.

Also, from my understanding, the higher one goes on the autism spectrum, the more sensitive they are to disruptions in their environment. A frivorce--difficult enough for those of us more balanced types--likely ranks quite even high on the list of equilibrium-disturbing events for autists.

I have a suggestion: rather than ban the tools people need to defend themselves, perhaps we should ban frivorce and self-defense-free zones instead. That would drive the crime rate asymptotically to zero.

Australia has come up often on this thread. Yet, thus far none have addressed the mass shootings in the UK and Germany--places with Aussie-style firearms restrictions--or the skyrocketing crime rate in the UK--where homeowners are prosecuted for defending their property against burglars.

Elusive Wapiti said...

@ El Bastardo,

"this could be a year the government is behind half of these"

Well certainly gov't policy could be blamed. After all, it is offical government policy to sell one's former spouse into partial slavery for a (quite) few shekels, just as it is gov't policy to not lock away the crazies.

Kathy Farrelly said...

"Also, from my understanding, the higher one goes on the autism spectrum, the more sensitive they are to disruptions in their environment. A frivorce--difficult enough for those of us more balanced types--likely ranks quite even high on the list of equilibrium-disturbing events for autists."

You are trying somehow to tie this all in with the divorce, EW.

The kid was a loner and was odd from the start as has been noted by his peers.

Lanza was a recluse who spent most of his time alone in his room, not interacting with anyone. Let alone his parents. His father had a very important high paid job, so most of the time there would have been little interaction with his father, anyway. After the divorce nothing much changed for Lanza. His environment remained basically the same.

I know more about this having a high functioning autistic son (and also knowing many other autistic boys) Aspergers/High functioning autistic kids have difficulty interacting socially and often appear awkward.They are generally not violent towards others, and many prefer their own company.

Fortunately my own son,wants to interact with people but he has had to be taught how to engage socially with others. Something we all take for granted.

I really think that Lanza had no emotional bond with his parents or his sibling, from what I have read.

Lanza had other problems going on there. One report said he played violent video games.

He was a disturbed young man. More than likely a psychopath, which is probably why he was so detached from his family, and cold bloodedly murdered his mother, before swiftly moving on to the school and further carnage. He didn't just snap, he prepared for THAT shooting spree.

wanderling said...

Never thought i'd say this but i have to agree with kathy.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Hi Kathy, thanks for your comment and your insight.

"You are trying somehow to tie this all in with the divorce, EW...After the divorce nothing much changed for Lanza."

I'll admit the frivorce tie-in is just speculation, driven in part from observing Mrs Wapiti (a special ed teacher in a previous life) in action with one of her private-lesson students who was a high-functioning autist--and *very* sensitive to changes in routine. Just as it was/is speculation that suspicion that his mother was attempting to have him committed may have triggered him.

I'm also not aware one way or another of how large a role his father had in his upbringing/routine--it is possible that dad didn't have much as you suspect, or perhaps Lanza's ties to dad were more numerous than even I imagine. If he did identify with dad, or blame mom for the quite lucrative divorce that resulted in his father being exiled from the home, well it's certainly one possibility of many.

Unfortunately, Lanza didn't do us the favor of documenting his reasons, so in many ways we'll never know the "why".

Dr. Φ said...

EW: You inspired me. I wrote my reps proposing we abolish "gun free zones".

I'll let you know how it works out. ;-)

Elusive Wapiti said...

Thanks bro. "Self-defense-free-zones" is more accurate than "gun-free-zone", but doesn't roll off the tongue the same way.

Lol, I think we both know how it'll work out, but it would be entertaining if just one Congresscritter submitted a bill to that effect. I'd pay to watch CSpan that day.

Double Minded Man said...

Australia's violent crime hasn't dropped since the gun ban, even if instances of RMM are down.

That article also points out that murders decreased elsewhere, so it wasn't simply a gun ban in Australia that was the cause of this. Also, according to the crime stats released from AIC.GOV.AU, the 20 year average number of people killed with firearms is only 19 per year. In a country of 22 million, its hard to see why they thought it so bad as to take away the freedom of the people.

Double Minded Man said...

Wanderling writes that she doesn't know where firearms are sold near her. The FedGov lists that info and it can be found here:

In May of 2012, there were 65,536 FFL holders, 23,000 of which are able to legally sell firearms in America and its territories. Including 8 in DC, only two of which belong to the ATF.

If you care to offer up your location I'd be happy to look up the crime stats for you.

Double Minded Man said...

This young man was, by all accounts, highly intelligent. As this is the case, there is little that could have been done to prevent his murderous tendencies. It is perhaps true that various laws or other restrictions could have altered the method in which he performed his murder, but they would only be able to alter the method by which his madness evidenced itself. Bombs, arson, mass poisoning... these are things that are available to a mind of sufficient intelligence. And if one is lacking in intelligence, then one simply has to read a few murder-mysteries as much of the imagination and research has already been done by others.

Taking away guns from the average person only prevents them from stopping someone in the act of committing a crime, be it directly against them, or against other innocents. And since it is simply impossible for cops to be every where at every time, and since it is the average citizen that such acts are aimed at, it is the average citizen who should be armed as they are the ones in place at the time to prevent or even put a stop to such a killing spree. If you don't believe that, just look at the time it takes for cops to enter the school buildings after each one of these events. Its a time better measured in hours than in minutes, despite their training and body armor and supposed valor in protecting us plebes.

Elusive Wapiti said...

DMM, Wanderling asserts Aussie citizenship.

But like anywhere, just because something is illegal doesn't mean it can't be purchased nearby if one knows the correct ppl.

Double Minded Man said...

I was offered to buy a gun when I was yet in Jr High. I could buy a derringer type gun or a 9mm. I couldn't afford the 9mm, and I have always held a very low opinion of derringers. So it was a great many years before I purchased a firearm. I did, however, carry a knife daily, or more accurately multiple knives, until the time I purchased a firearm. We are never far apart, and tho I have never pulled either the knife or the gun, I know that there may come a day when trouble cannot be avoided and I will need it.

Double Minded Man said...

I pulled up some stats on gun ownership in Australia. Apparently its not quite as draconian as many think because, according to GunPolicy.Org, there are 3-3.5 million privately owned guns in Australia. In addition they estimate that there are 0.5-6.0 million illegally held guns. Its a large range, but of course the very nature of the category means it cannot really be counted. But a minimum of 3.5 million guns committing but 19 murders a year seems to put the lie to the need for such legislation.

Interesting comparison from the same source.
Australia has 15.5 guns per 100 people. America has 88.8. We citizens also have 88.4 times more firearms than our government.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Similar experience. I carried a folder, either a Buck or an "Old Timer", from MS until well into HS. I only stopped because I moved to a big city and the multi-racial HS I attended installed metal detectors to counter all the gang-bangers.

And I acquired my first firearm, a Marlin 700 .22LR, at age 16. Independently of an adult, paid with my own money.

Ah such were the halcyon days before NICS and Clinto-era gun bans and people at large freaking out.

newrebeluniv said...

I got my first firearm at 12. A sears and roebuck 22LR bolt action rifle (made by Remington) with a cheap K-Mart scope on it. I kept it in my room, unlocked, with ammunition all throughout my childhood. Nothing bad happened. I had an older brother who deserved getting the tar beat out of him, but I never once considered pointing that gun at him. I knew all along that that would be "wrong".

I still have it.

Steve said...

This article by David Koppel, who has done a lot of writing and research on the gun issue, refutes Borsch's numbers. Somewhat. It appears Borsch may be cherry picking or looking at this very narrowly. If you are a gun owner or not and want to be able to defend against the on slaughter of having them taken away you need to be able to debate with truth and facts. Doubtful that facts or the truth will work against a liberal, but like ammo always good to have too much then not enough.

Here is the article: