Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Further thoughts on Newtown

Since yesterday' post I came across two other interesting items. One is an article that appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy:

The burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.

And, lest we forget shortly before the Newton massacre another shooting occurred at a mall in Oregon where the shooter took his own life, just as the Newtown shooter did. However, there is an interesting twist that kept the Oregon incident from becoming as awful as the one in Newton: an armed citizen. According to The Examiner:

The shooter … was confronted with an armed citizen, at which time he ran away and shot himself. By the time police arrived on the scene, [the shooter] was already dead.

Interesting that this fact has managed to not surface in the media coverage, isn’t it? The paper above has the following in its last paragraph that touches on this tendency to bury inconvenient facts.

Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to determine whether Canada’s more restrictive policies had better contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was with the admonition:
If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” handguns, but there it is—a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.

Why do I bring this up in light of the Newtown tragedy? Am I committing the same error as those who immediately use the victims as fodder for a political cause? To be fair both sides of the gun control debate think they’re defending the best interests of everyone. I believe the “solution” proposed would not prevent other tragedies. We’re treating a symptom as opposed to trying to figure out the root cause and coming up with a solution (if there is one) that treats the source. To me banning guns is like removing mercury from a thermometer in hopes that it will make the fever go away. Banning guns will only make tragedies like Newtown more likely, as the evidence in the Kates-Mauser paper shows. And that in itself is a tragedy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Way Forward by John Podhoretz, Commentary Magazine

Of all of the post-election post-mortems that I've read this one makes a lot of sense. « The Way Forward Commentary Magazine Especially this point.

Obama and his team let it be known in the spring of 2011 that they intended to raise and spend an unprecedented $1 billion—$250 million more than in 2008—without having to drop so much as a nickel on anything but the general election against the Republicans. This is probably the key to understanding why the Republican field in 2011 came down to the distressingly uncharismatic array of B-listers like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and a couple of ludicrous outliers who thought they had nothing to lose by running. A Republican senator explained it to me at the time: “That’s one billion dollars aimed like a laser-guided munition at the reputation of a single person.”

ROBERT JAMES BIDINOTTO: Understanding Mass Murder

This week's massacre at Newtown has set off the to be expected firestorm over gun control. I highly recommend this post, Understanding Mass Murder. Robert, a good college friend, spent a lot of time studying criminals as well as talking with the survivors of the crimes committed. He talks about the sense of power shooters like this. (I won't mention the name so as not to contribute to whatever legacy or infamy he was hoping for.)

You have to understand this to grasp that, for the mass killer, murder is an empowering event. He is playing God with other human lives, and gets a tremendous "rush" of power and control by treating other humans like playthings.

I think this is especially true when these massacres occur at an elementary school where the perpetrator know that the kids won’t be able to over-power him (and the teachers are unarmed).

I find it interesting how quickly gun control advocates capitalize on tragedies like this to clamor for more controls on guns. I hear precious little talk about what other factors (cultural, social, psychological, etc.) that lead up to this. Excuse me if I get a bit sarcastic but that would take too much time and thought … and rational argument with people who might not agree. Instead we’re urged to rush into taking action even if ultimately that action might not prevent another tragedy like Newtown. And that is the deeper tragedy that most people don’t see.