Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: December 21, 2012

Considering armed school guards

Is it really so horrible to talk about armed law enforcement officers at our schools?   Or do we prefer continue to listen to stories and watch video of anguished parents standing outside a school under siege and wondering whether their child made it?

If we really want this “discussion” that the left appears to be craving, this is a viable and practical way to combat such acts of violence in schools.  And yes, it means more guns and near a school too.  Unless you’re comfortable with a 20 minute wait time for the local cops to arrive.  Yeah, not much shooting can happen in 20 minutes, can it?

Of course, we all know what that really means when the left claims to want to have a discusion, don’t we?  It means the left getting their way and  banning guns. They are really not interested in considering alternatives or actually hearing contrary opinion. And God forbid you should use facts. When the left talks about having a discussion, they’re essentially saying ‘you sit and listen to me talk and then we’ll do it my way’.  And if you refuse, they call you every vile name they can think of, and when you answer, they claim you’re being uncivil.  Wash, rinse and repeat.

Anyway …

It seems interesting to me that no one had a real problem with air marshals when they were put on aircraft. Remember them? They were a reaction to the fact that government had disarmed everyone that flies on an airplane, and consequently terrorists with box cutters were able to take advantage of that and finally kill 3,000 on 9/11 without anyone on two of the flights being able to put up a defense (except flight 93, of course).  The flying public was downright pleased, in fact, to know the marshalls were aboard.

LaPierre discussed in detail an inconvenient fact many in the media and on Capitol Hill have failed to acknowledge: gun free school zones leave children vulnerable to violent attacks carried out by madmen. LaPierre said making schools gun free over the years has simply told “every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with little risk.”

He’s right. You think an “insane killer” would attempt the same thing at a gun show? They are not that insane. Instead they look  the place of least resistance. And that would be a “gun free zone”. Schools, unfortunately, are easy targets because they are usually  gun free zones.

Right now we have no problem arming guards and  stationing them  at critical facilities. You read about very few “insane killers” trying to get inside a federal building, at least not anymore. That’s because they know they will meet armed resistance. So why not go to a school instead?

If the left really wants to have a “discussion” about the school shootings in Connecticut, then this must be on the table. The whole point of course is to make those “insane killers” reject schools as an easy target. What better way to do that than to make it clear that they will face  well trained armed guards if they try?

It all goes back to the discussion of  human nature.  Few  “insane killers” are going to go somewhere where they may not be able to  accomplish their murderous deed in the manner they wish. Instead, they’re going to look for the easiest target.  Certainly having armed guards at schools isn’t what we would prefer (and no, it won’t forever traumatize little Johnny and Jane to have them). But reality rarely cares what we prefer.

It is time we deal with reality.  Bulletin: we live in a dangerous society that has any number of deranged people in it.  I’m not sure how many more school shootings we have to suffer before we get the message. Certainly not an ideal solution, but definitely a very practical solution.  It won’t guarantee the safety of our children necessarily, but it certainly will give them a fighting chance. And, probably more importantly,  once it becomes known that schools routinely employ armed guards, my guess is the “insane killers” will attempt to find newer and less threatening targets with which to claim their 15 minutes of fame.

~McQ

Economic Statistics for 21 Dec 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index is down nearly 10 points in December to 72.9  from last month’s 82.7.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index turned positive, coming in at 0.10 vice a revised -0.64 in October.

Personal income in October was up 0.6%, following a flat October. Consumer spending rose 0.4%, compared to a -0.2% drop in October. For inflation, the PCE price index fell -0.2% while the core rate was unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, income is up 4.1% while spending is up 3.5%; the PCE is up 1.4% at the headline level and 1.5% at the core.

Durable goods orders in November rose 0.7%, while ex-transportation orders were up 1.6%. This is the second consecutive monthly increase.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index fell to -6 in November from -4 in October.

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Dale Franks
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Gun ownership doesn’t correlate with murder rates

In a recent study two Harvard professors determined that banning guns will not solve the violence or murder problem. That in fact, guns really have nothing to do with it. Instead it is instead a matter of culture.

The reason that gun ownership doesn’t correlate with murder rates, the authors show, is that violent crime rates are determined instead by underlying cultural factors.  “Ordinary people,” they note, “simply do not murder.”  Rather, “the murderers are a small minority of extreme antisocial aberrants who manage to obtain guns whatever the level of gun ownership” in their society.

Therefore, “banning guns cannot alleviate the socio-cultural and economic factors that are the real determinants of violence and crime rates.”  According to Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser, “there is no reason for laws prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law-abiding, responsible adults because such people virtually never commit murder.  If one accepts that such adults are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than to commit it, disarming them becomes not just unproductive but counter-productive.”

The sort of reasoning Kates and Mauser use for  seems to be foreign to those who want to ban guns. It is not a problem of law abiding citizens because, as the authors state, law-abiding citizens don’t commit murder. Consequently, taking their guns away will have no fact other than to make them easier victims. The counter gun culture tries very hard to correlate guns with violence and murder. But looking at the number of guns owned in America as well as the number of Americans who own guns (45 – 52 million), we see that in reality gun crime and gun violence are statistically small.   As the authors state disarming law-abiding citizens is “not just unproductive but counterproductive.”

Additionally, they use these things called “facts” to gut  the myths that have grown up around gun ownership and violence. For instance, the myth surrounding the Soviet Union and its strict gun control.

In their piece entitled Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and some Domestic Evidence, Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser eviscerate “the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths.”  In so doing, the authors provide fascinating historical insight into astronomical murder rates in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they dispel the myths that widespread gun ownership is somehow unique to the United States or that America suffers from the developed world’s highest murder rate.

To the contrary, they establish that Soviet murder rates far exceeded American murder rates, and continue to do so today, despite Russia’s extremely stringent gun prohibitions.  By 2004, they show, the Russian murder rate was nearly four times higher than the American rate.

The authors also look at the gun control policies in Europe and find evidence that counters the correlation between gun ownership and violence.

More fundamentally, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser demonstrate that other developed nations such as Norway, Finland, Germany, France and Denmark maintain high rates of gun ownership, yet possess murder rates lower than other developed nations in which gun ownership is much more restricted.

For example, handguns are outlawed in Luxembourg, and gun ownership extremely rare, yet its murder rate is nine times greater than in Germany, which has one of the highest gun ownership rates in Europe.  As another example, Hungary’s murder rate is nearly three times higher than nearby Austria’s, but Austria’s gun ownership rate is over eight times higher than Hungary’s.  “Norway,” they note, “has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate.  The Netherlands,” in contrast, “has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe (1.9%) … yet the Dutch gun murder rate is higher than the Norwegian.”

Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser proceed to dispel the mainstream misconception that lower rates of violence in Europe are somehow attributable to gun control laws.  Instead, they reveal, “murder in Europe was at an all-time low before the gun controls were introduced.”  As the authors note, “strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever-growing violent crime throughout the post-WWII industrialized world.”

Citing England, for instance, they reveal that “when it had no firearms restrictions [in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries], England had little violent crime.”  By the late 1990s, however, “England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban on all handguns and many types of long guns.”  As a result, “by the year 2000, violent crime had so increased that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States.”  In America, on the other hand, “despite constant and substantially increasing gun ownership, the United States saw progressive and dramatic reductions in criminal violence in the 1990s.”

So, if one is honest and reads the evidence clearly, they are left with the understanding that the attempted correlation between gun ownership and violence doesn’t really exist. In fact, it appears that it is indeed the culture that is the cause of violence. One could even argue that disarming the public makes them the culture of victims. For example, one of the things we hear about England is that there has been a vast increase in “hot burglaries” since firearms have been banned. That ban has emboldened the criminals. They no longer fear the homeowner. They know the homeowner does not have a gun. Why? Because they’re law-abiding citizens.

Finally, Kates and Mauser talk about the seeming change in American culture and its impact on violent crime.

Critically, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser note that “the fall in the American crime rate is even more impressive when compared with the rest of the world,” where 18 of the 25 countries surveyed by the British Home Office suffered violent crime increases during that same period.

Furthermore, the authors highlight the important point that while the American gun murder rate often exceeds that in other nations, the overall per capita murder rate in other nations (including other means such as strangling, stabbing, beating, etc.) is oftentimes much higher than in America.

As should be obvious to anyone, those that are murdered really don’t care about the means that murder. Dead is dead.   The key to reducing murder is cultural. It has nothing to do with the weapon involved. As Kates and Mauser pointed out the per capita murder rate in other nations is often higher than ours. And many if not most of those include countries with strict gun bans.

It should seem clear, given the experience of many European countries with strict gun control, that banning guns does not solve the murder and violence problem. It would be nice for a change if we would learn from the experience of others. As horrific as the Newtown massacre was, it wasn’t perpetrated by a person anyone would consider a law-abiding citizen.  In fact, he had no concept of the principle of law or his responsibility to abide by it.

If we want to learn from that incident, the lesson isn’t about guns.  It’s about how inadequate our means of handling those who pose a danger to society really are.  Megan McArdle does a good job of discussing that very important point.

This study seems to point to what many would argue is obvious. However there is a strong, emotional lobby that continues to want to ignore the primary problem in favor of banning the instrument of murder in this particular case. It is foolish and shortsighted.  It would be feel-good legislation, made in haste as usual and in the end accomplishing nothing. We have a history of knee jerk legislation made in haste in which the consequences are unforeseen and usually unintended.

What should be clear is we don’t want to end up like England.

~McQ