Umm, Vice President Biden…?

shotgun_tlcI already knew that Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comments on the relative suitability of Modern Sporting Rifles and double-barreled shotguns were a bit silly. An AR-15 (something around 5.5 foot-pounds of recoil energy) is harder for a woman to shoot than a 12-gauge shotgun (17 up to a staggering 54 foot-pounds of recoil energy, depending on load and gun weight)? Hate to break the bad news, Mr. Biden, but in a contest between politics and physics, Newton’s Second Law wins every time.

But now, I don’t have to fall back on nebulous little trivialities like science. I’ve experienced the difference myself firsthand.

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Lessons from the Clackamas Mall Shooting

585836_31371578The mainstream media is whipping itself into a frenzy this morning after a shooting at a mall in Oregon yesterday. Although the details are fuzzy, current media reports suggest a killer with body armor and a semiautomatic rifle killed two people and wounded a third before taking his own life. Law enforcement response was gratifyingly fast — by some accounts, the first officers on scene arrived in less than two minutes — but by then the incident was already over and the killer lay dead of what sounds to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

I think there are some good lessons that can be learned from this incident, and I’d like to talk about a few of them. As tragic as yesterday’s events were for the victims and their families (and for the family of the killer, a victim of his crime and yet often overlooked), they’d be even more tragic if we didn’t learn anything from them.
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Gun Control vs. Risk Assessment

Over on the Gun Values Board, Ruth has an excellent post about the inevitable flurry of anti-gun legislative effort following the Aurora shooting.

Ruth writes:

One of the bills proposed is against the sales of ammunition online. You would need to have a license to be able to purchase ammunition online, and the dealer would be obligated to report purchases of large amounts of ammo (I think over 1000 rounds).

The architects of this bill, McCarthy and Lautenberg, think that if someone wants to purchase ammunition they should have to present a picture ID, and do it face to face.

I’d like to talk about this a bit, because it points to a flaw many people seem to share in how we think about risk assessment.

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