Why the ‘More Guns’ Argument Doesn’t Make Sense – NYTimes.com
Of the many specious arguments against gun control, perhaps the most ridiculous is that what we really need is the opposite: more guns, in the hands of more people, in more places. If people were packing heat in the movies, at workplaces, in shopping malls and in schools, they could just pop up and shoot the assailant.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, which is like the National Rifle Association only nuttier, said the other day: “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered.”
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, echoed that sentiment this morning. “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.
I see it differently: About the only thing more terrifying than a lone gunman firing into a classroom or a crowded movie theater is a half a dozen more gunmen leaping around firing their pistols at the killer, which is to say really at each other and every bystander. It’s a police officer’s nightmare.
In the movies, the bad guys can empty 200 rounds at the Green Hornet and miss every time, while the good guys can knock a man off a fire escape from 200 feet with a rusty pistol, but here are a few facts from the real world:
In 1999, New York police officers who were actually trained to use their weapons when seconds count (i.e., unlike civilians), fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo and missed 22 times.
Last August, two New York police officers fired 16 rounds in an altercation with an armed man outside the Empire State Building. Ten people were hit – the gunman and nine bystanders.
Does anyone think armed civilians without training would do better?
Apparently, Mr. Pratt does. “The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun,” he said.
And so does Michele Fiore, a Republican member of the Nevada Assembly who likes getting photographed with her piece on her hip. She believes her bill to “allow students and others with permits to carry concealed weapons on the campuses of the Nevada System of Higher Education” doesn’t go far enough. “[W]e might have to have an armed employee at the schools, that’s a measure,” she said.
(That’s actually a step up the logic food chain, believe it or not, from Charlotte Allen, who wrote in the National Review Online that we should all think of “what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on” the killer. Answer: two dead teachers and some dead 12 year olds.)
Mother Jones reported the other day, based on a pretty thorough look at mass shootings, that “not one of the 62 mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years has been stopped” by an armed civilian. In a couple of cases a bystander subdued the gunman after the fact. In a couple of other cases, attempted interventions went horribly wrong, with well-intentioned civilians shot dead or wounded by the assailants.
While other advanced countries have imposed gun control laws, America has conducted a natural experiment in what happens when a society has as many guns as people. The results are in, and they’re not counterintuitive.