Magical Thinking and Newtown

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been less than a year since the terrible, tragic actions of a disturbed young man took 27 lives in the State of Connecticut. I believe in armed self-defense precisely because I value the lives of myself, my loved ones, and the innocents of our society, and precisely because when the predators and the madmen come for me and mine, I’m prepared to stand between them and their prey.

Yesterday, the Connecticut State Attorney’s office released their preliminary report on the Sandy Hook massacre, and it’s interesting, if unsurprising, reading. It contains more detail about what happened, but not even speculation about why it happened. But it did include a couple of interesting facts which make what I think is an important point that people often overlook: “Crazy” is about motive, not method. And this is why Gun Free Zones and other gun control laws that only control the law-abiding are doomed to fail to prevent future tragedies.

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Mass Murder: Blame and Responses

With three mass murders in the past few weeks, the predictable froth is getting whipped up in the media and the court of public opinion about who’s to blame and what should be done about it. Predictably, some quarters are calling for renewed restrictions on firearms and associated components, despite decades of evidence that there is at best a net zero correlation between gun control laws and violent crime rate.

In a superficial sort of way this response makes sense. This murderer used a Scary Black Rifle with a beta mag, so let’s ban SBRs and beta mags. That murderer used ammo he bought online, so let’s ban ammo purchases online. This murderer used a pistol he bought at a gun show, so let’s ban sales of pistols at gun shows.

But it comes back to the divide between feeling safe and being safe: Taking a potentially dangerous item out of the hands of law-abiding citizens (who, by definition, won’t abuse that item to cause harm to others) won’t keep criminals (who, by definition, won’t abide by the laws and rules of society) from behaving like criminals. It might make us feel safer, but we won’t actually be any safer. In fact, since we’ll make it harder for people to use those tools in defense of themselves and their neighbors, we’ll actually make them less safe, even as they feel more safe.

So, who is to blame for these acts of mass violence, and what can we do about it?

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Gun Control, Mass Murder and Training

In response to the Aurora movie theater shooting, Northeastern University professor James Alan Fox had a terrific opinion piece on CNN about the desire of both pro- and anti-gun groups to use the tragedy to support their viewpoints. Prof. Fox argues both sides are incorrect to do so, and I won’t debate the point here. I did however, want to quote something Prof. Fox wrote to use as a springboard to talk about training.

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