Comments: Pro-Choice

I don't understand why the guy wrote that he was sorry before he went to the mall and shot everyone.

Seriously, if someone is showing remorse, why the remorse prior to the act? And if he was remorseful for other things, then shouldn't he be remorseful for what he was about to do?

This doesn't strike me as the normal behavior of a person who goes out shooting people.

I'd like to see his psychological profile. He's not acting like a normal psychotic.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at December 8, 2007 10:03 PM

I love how the pro-gun advocates are now wailing that if only the place hadn't been a gun free zone, those of us who travel to the mall with our guns just in case some wacko shows up to shoot someone would have got that guy.

Posted by Dan Coyle at December 8, 2007 10:33 PM

Dan, et al. If 50% of mall-goers were armed there would never again be another similar mass killing which would take more than 2 or 3 lives. Guns will be used to kill 12,000-ish this year; a miniscule percentage of which will be random like the one in question. Cars will kill 40,000-ish. Medical malpractice, by some estimates, will kill 10 times that many. Banning or restricting guns makes less safety sense than banning or restricting driving and access to medical care. Politically, it's one of the most dangerous courses possible b/c the crux of it is that citizens have no right to defend their lives and that force is the exclusive purview of the state.

A point often unmade in these conversations is that guns are successfully used to defend life or property at least 1,000,000 times a year in the US and some estimates put it at 4,000,000 times. Normal citizens are judged to be within the law in the use of deadly force more often than cops. In other words, strangers are more trustworthy with guns than your assigned and paid protectors and I'll bet you never bat an eyelash at that. A white upper/middle-class person typically wouldn't. It's not an idle right. It matters in many lives every single day. There is no other way for a small or elderly or physically weak person to have the same power as anyone else. Firearms are a great social equalizer and it's no accident that a lot of early anti-gun legislation was related directly to the increasing social rights of blacks.

The entire Bill of Rights matters, not just the parts that happen to sit well with your upbringing or lack of experience. If it's just a self-serve buffet then whoever is in power gets to pick the ones they like too. See how well that's working out. Again.

I am often armed, legally, in public places. I hope to God nothing serious enough to draw a weapon ever jumps off in front of me but there are people like me -- like the man who ended the UT shooting spree last year by being armed at that mall -- who are responsible and would be willing to risk death to protect a bunch of strangers from some poor deluded kid who decided to take some company on the ride down.

Posted by Ashley at December 9, 2007 12:21 AM

The boys in blue could have been there if they weren't busy with pot busts, but hey, that's where the money is, filling prison beds.

So for security on your next mall trip just call 1-800-AGUA-NEGRA. We guarantee that NOBODY will be in the checkout line ahead of you. Choose the security force that Santa uses for your next holiday shopping trip; let the boys in black guard your sack. If it's good enough for Foggy Bottom it's good enough for you!

Posted by Don Bacon at December 9, 2007 12:27 AM

just for the record, i don't fisk.

If 50% of mall-goers were armed there would never again be another similar mass killing which would take more than 2 or 3 lives.

so by multiplying the number of people packing (X) by about 40, we divide the number of people killed per incident (Y) by 3. to keep things even you'd have to limit the increase in incidents (Z) from hitting even 1/13th the rise in X. my guess is people'd want the guns to go away.

Guns will be used to kill 12,000-ish this year

... leaving out iraq, afghanistan, all the war on terror, all the war on drugs, and everywhere else american gun manufacturers' wares are sold ... as though the right to carry a gun here and the right to control foreign destinies with bombardment there were independent concepts ...

a miniscule percentage of which will be random like the one in question

yes

Cars will kill 40,000-ish. Medical malpractice, by some estimates, will kill 10 times that many. Banning or restricting guns makes less safety sense than banning or restricting driving and access to medical care.

tighter restrictions on driving that would save thousands of lives include serious speeding prevention, wider DUI testing, and rearrangement of services to reduce car trips and ease pressure on long-haul pro drivers. regulation. malpractice reduction probably involves patients:caregiver ratios, spot checks, and better preventive efforts to reduce case load. more regulation. it's not hard to make a case for more gun regulation, on these examples.

Politically, it's one of the most dangerous courses possible b/c the crux of it is that citizens have no right to defend their lives and that force is the exclusive purview of the state.

note here that you have absolutely granted the state the right to use force, as long as that force is held in pro forma check by some small part of the population carrying vastly inferior firepower.

A point often unmade in these conversations is that guns are successfully used to defend life or property at least 1,000,000 times a year in the US and some estimates put it at 4,000,000 times.

and since that's possible, there's no reason to create other ways to defend life and property, and thus we don't have to think whether that other option might have worked, also. nice!

Normal citizens are judged to be within the law in the use of deadly force more often than cops.

oh, easy! just make it so the streets belong to the police, then everybody can be judged to have been shot while trespassing. done and done.

In other words, strangers are more trustworthy with guns than your assigned and paid protectors and I'll bet you never bat an eyelash at that.

cop stands before an elementary school class to teach street-crossing safety, with a semi-automatic visible on her hip — believe me, i bat a lash. no guns means no guns.

There is no other way for a small or elderly or physically weak person to have the same power as anyone else.

except with — what's it called — community involvement? is that the word? social cohesion? solidarity? affinity? something like that?

Firearms are a great social equalizer

yep, e'body dead or scared wit de guns. all equal.

and it's no accident that a lot of early anti-gun legislation was related directly to the increasing social rights of blacks.

and women got the vote to keep the brown down, too. people seek better outcomes for themselves in pretty egotistical ways. must be stupid. let's give more of them guns, see what happens. maybe that will lead to absolute equity.

I am often armed, legally, in public places.

hope you're not shot by a cop.

Posted by hapa at December 9, 2007 01:55 AM
A point often unmade in these conversations is that guns are successfully used to defend life or property at least 1,000,000 times a year in the US and some estimates put it at 4,000,000 times.

The issue I have is equating property rights with human rights. I know that in the US a $599.00 MSRP flat screen TV is roughly viewed as equal to the life of the person stealing it, and even less when you consider holiday discounts. (CompUSA is going out of business after this holiday season -- be watchful for bargains.)

You know how they often say on the telly: "Mrs. Smith was killed in the course of a mugging. The perpetrator got away with $12.00. The inhumanity and savegary of it all..."

It's like that but in reverse. I'm waiting for the telly to say: "Well, the thief was killed for $12.00 but it was the legal principle that mattered. It's all that separates us from savages."

Disclaimer: I'm a gun user (mostly out of habit), but don't make a habit of walking around with guns since SOOOOO many things piss me off in the course of the day that I'd want to use that equalizer if it was handy. Instead, I comment. :-) It's as effective as p*ssing into the wind.

Posted by Ted at December 9, 2007 08:38 AM

I trust me to have loaded weapons. I have several.

I do NOT trust "you" with 'em.

Period.

Posted by konopelli/wgg at December 9, 2007 09:15 AM

Why was this guy apologizing BEFORE he was killing people? If he was just suicidal, he didn't need to kill all those other people. What kind of psychotic thinking would both make him apologize beforehand for killing people and then go out and THEN go out and kill them?

This guy seemed to have a compulsion to kill people but had a moral stricture against it, which suggests at least that his pyschotic thinking wasn't justifying the killing. Something is missing here.

Any psychiatrists out there to explain this?

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at December 9, 2007 10:47 AM

From "Open Letter to Americans" by John Cleese:

"You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you are not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun."

Posted by donescobar at December 9, 2007 11:53 AM
Any psychiatrists out there to explain this?

Do you need to be a psychiatrist to explain this? I don't think his behavior is all that mysterious.

He knows it's wrong to kill people, yet does it anyway to meet his needs (doesn't want to die alone in his room, anonymously -- I think most mundane failures are anonymous so it is a source of frustration in itself; routine suicide is a statistic, of interest to only a few).

We know it's wrong to kill people (or torture them), yet if it was in the path of expediency we'd do it. Look at Iraq for the macro view; this guy is just the micro view of self interest dominating his actions. (Forgive my use of "we" there; I mean "we" - my tribe.)

Of some interest is this pervasive need to be famous and go out in style. If we didn't go all apesh*t over the likes of Madonna, Britney, Lindsey, Paris, et al, we'd be better off.

Most of my generation just had a desire to live hard, drive fast and leave a good looking corpse. The guy went out looking sloppy with sagging pants and emo hair. Times change.

For security recommendations, rather than metal detectors at mall entrances (the Israeli model) I suggest that everyone must wear spandex.

Posted by Ted at December 9, 2007 12:22 PM

@donescobar: While the points you quote are salient, the piece is a fake.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/revocation.asp

Posted by David at December 9, 2007 12:37 PM

David

Fascinating. Thanks.

From now on, only in goddamn I trust.

Posted by donescobar at December 9, 2007 12:47 PM

I would like to see the source of Ashley's statistics, because while I know a few people killed by guns (the 12K per year statistic), I know of no one who has successfully defended their lives or property with guns (the 1000K per year statistic).

So - references please. Links please.

I do know of one claim to have defended one's home against an invasion via guns - it was made by an old women who happened to come to my workplace (medical) for a visit. My co-workers bought it hook, line and sinker --- that this old lady who can't hear or see well shot at someone who was trying to break into her home via a window. After shooting, she called the police. It had been raining all day and the area beneath the window she shot at had NO FOOTPRINTS or other marks - must have been levitating robbers!

She did have a blown out window though.

As to all the people who think it is the left wing anti-gun folks who will deprive you of your weapon - I predict you are totally wrong. It will be the right wing authoritarians who will take away your legal guns, just like they in New Orleans after Katrina.

Posted by Susan O at December 9, 2007 01:10 PM

Amusing post, interesting debate in the Comments...why I love ATR.

Great posts, Bernard--keep it up!

FWIW, at 5'5" and 125, with a slight case of cerebral palsy, almost everybody's more physically powerful than me. And yet, in 38 years, I have NEVER been in a situation where I thought, "Shit, I wish I had a gun." But I HAVE thought "Shit, I'm glad I DIDN'T have a gun."

Now you can say, "But Mike, you're an upper-middle class white male. The places you are, aren't dangerous." And there would be some merit in that statement. But I haven't always been so fortunate, and particularly when I was a kid, I lived in a few dodgy neighborhoods. Certainly as a teenager, I found myself in MANY situations with family and friends that could've turned lethal, had one or more people been packing heat. Flooding America with guns in the name of protection, would guarantee more guns finding their way to more people that shouldn't have them. Like teenagers having regular screaming fights with their dad, who is much bigger and stronger than they are. And that teenager go gets Mom's gun, and goes to jail instead of Yale. My point is, everybody snaps, and when they do, I want them to throw a punch, not fire a gun.

Instead of arming everybody, there should be a nationwide effort to strengthen the safety nets, improve parenting and increase mental health. Shouldn't we at least attempt social fixes--I mean, really try them--before the gun solution is even on the table? Shouldn't more lethal force be our last option, rather than our first, simply because of the relative stakes attached to being wrong? Ask yourself: why does the social solution seem weak, naive, and impossibly Utopian, while the gun option seems direct, strong, and admirably self-reliant?

The problem isn't out there on the streets and in the shopping malls. It's in here, inside our heads. We are atomized and paranoid. In the wealthiest and safest society in human history, we tolerate (and often actively promote) so much needless economic and personal desperation. I believe the majority of it comes from a false perception that each of us can thrive without the rest of us thriving. "We're all in this together" isn't just good spiritual advice, it's also reality. If America was a saner, fairer, more cohesive place, the people who currently snap would snap much less, and the disagreements that turn lethal could be rarer.

The Second Amendment reflected a world in which armed citizens could effectively resist an armed government. Today this is a fantasy. Today, the best (perhaps only) guarantee against tyranny is creating an environment in which it cannot thrive--a strong social contract based on fairness, equality and justice, where the "I-thou" connection is constantly nurtured. As the isolation and paranoia of individuals increases, so too does the tendency towards unjust government; witness Bush, Nixon, LBJ...

If you own guns, carry guns, and do both responsibly, I have no quarrel with you. But until we turn the heat down on this pressure-cooker, I think more guns in more hands is a very bad idea, a false solution that cannot be taken back.

Posted by Mike of Angle at December 9, 2007 01:35 PM

Is not wanting to die alone a usual rationale for killing others?

By the way, I don't think anyone wants to see me in spandex, even it minimizes the risk of being shot.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at December 9, 2007 02:46 PM

Today, the best (perhaps only) guarantee against tyranny is creating an environment in which it cannot thrive--a strong social contract based on fairness, equality and justice, where the "I-thou" connection is constantly nurtured.

funny, innit, how just about EVERYTHING we do, say, see, taste, hear, and view--including blogging-- militates against a strong communitarian ethos...

Posted by konopelli/wgg at December 9, 2007 06:14 PM

``Instead of arming everybody, there should be a nationwide effort to strengthen the safety nets, improve parenting and increase mental health. Shouldn't we at least attempt social fixes--I mean, really try them--before the gun solution is even on the table?''

Amen, brother.

``Ask yourself: why does the social solution seem weak, naive, and impossibly Utopian, while the gun option seems direct, strong, and admirably self-reliant?''

Because too many men in this society think that would be the wimpy solution, and they can't abide the idea.

Posted by Feeder of Felines at December 10, 2007 03:09 AM
Ashley: There is no other way for a small or elderly or physically weak person to have the same power as anyone else.

I smell a libertarian fantasy about armed societies being polite societies, with an emergent sense of everyone's rights causing the police to simply wither away.

What's that saying, again? Ah, yes. "The Mafia will always outgun you." Feel free to travel to Russia and see how well your guns stack up against their endemic gangsterism. But it's a nice fantasy, if you can plug your ears and sing loud enough.

Posted by grendelkhan at December 10, 2007 09:31 AM

Ashley does a nice job expressing the view that more guns equals more safety. I disagree, but respect the way the comment was written.

There's no space to dispute the comment point by point, so I'll just mention a story from a couple years ago that I think shows the fallacy of that logic:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/30/national/main658296.shtml

This situation should have been the gunlovers' dream. Everybody involved in this tragedy had to know that everybody else was well-armed, and well-trained on the use of the weapons they wielded. But instead of leading to calm, the easy availability of guns led to multiple deaths, even though nobody involved woke up that day with the intent to kill.

In the wake of the shootings in Omaha and Colorado, there will be calls for more guns in private hands. But don't forget this story or many others like it, which are conveniently ignored by advocates of arming everyone.

Posted by Whistler Blue at December 10, 2007 06:50 PM