Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“At least once every human should have to run for his life, to teach him that milk does not come from supermarkets, that safety does not come from policemen, that news is not something that happens to other people.”     Robert A. Heinlein,    The Number of the Beast

April 17, 2007

Point-Counterpoint

by Chris

No, not the soon-to-be regular feature of this site, where one of us debates another one; this one is in response to some of the responses to yesterdays events.

Yesterday, a horrendous attack was carried out by a lone, crazed individual at Virgina Tech. 33 people (including the mass murderer) are dead, with dozens more wounded.

Though reports are conflicting, it seems the murderer did this with one hand gun, and a few spare magazines. No “assault” weapons were involved, and there were no “super high capacity” magazines… just the standard capacity magazines for the gun. Even if he were limited to 10 round magazines for the gun, he’d only need one, or at most two more, at $30 a piece, to achieve the same result.

No “assault weapons ban” would have stopped this mass murder.

He apparently purchased his gun legally, several months before.

No background check or waiting period would have stopped this mass murder.

It was initially thought that the murderer was a chinese national, who had acquired his guns illegally. This was plausible, because it is easier to buy a gun illegally in many areas, than it is legally.

No ban on handguns, or even all guns, would have stopped this mass murder.

The murderer apparently took his time, sought out specific locations, and blended in with the hysterical crowds when he wasn’t actively shooting. He waited three hours while the police and security searched for him; and when the students started moving again, he started shooting again.

No Police presence short of an armed and trained officer in every room, and at every intersection would have stopped this mass murder

Dozens of police spread out throughout the campus couldn’t find him, and couldn’t stop him when he got up and started shooting again. The police COULD NOT STOP HIM.

One prospective “victim”; a student, a teacher, an administrator; armed with a gun; could have stopped this mass murder.

Why could one student do it when the police couldn’t? Because the students were there all the time. They were there when the murderer stood up, took out his gun, and started shooting at the (disarmed by law, and university policy) victims.

In Virginia, about 150,000 people have CCW permits; and though there are no accurate statistics, it is estimated that out of a population of 7.5 million, at least 3 million are gun owners. Out of the almost 30,000 students and faculty at Virgina tech, there are at least several dozen, perhaps as many as several hundred CCW holders (I’ve known more than a couple personally) and several thousand gun owners.

If just one of the students, faculty, or staff there that day were carrying a gun; they could have stopped this mass murder. It isn’t assured that they would have, but it’s damn well sure that without arms, they were nothing more than cowering victims.

Yesterday, in this post “Blue Girl” called this notion ridiculous, saying that private citizens who are not sworn law enforcement officers are the equivalent of Barney Pfife with his one bullet in his shirt… yosemite sam, backyard rambo, whatever ridiculous insult you want to pile on.

Essentially she (and some of her commenters) are saying “you are all incompetent, and mentally ill for thinking you could stop this. You are a danger to yourself and others, leave it to the professionals”. She (and some of her commenters); and in fact anti-gun sites and organizations around the world; went on to blame guns in general, the NRA, and gun owners for all “gun violence”; and to suggest that effective gun control could stop things like this from happening.

She is of course not isolated in this view; many people share it, in fact millions.

In this case, millions of people CAN be wrong. This view is patently ridiculous; and indicates a fundamental lack of maturity, and understanding about criminals, the insane, violence, and the effectiveness of both weapons, and weapons laws.

First, there is no such thing as “gun violence”, there is only “people violence” or “natural violence”. Guns are inanimate objects, that have no capability to act on their own. They are tools that individuals use, for good or ill; and have no inherent morality.

Second, and what I want to specifically address in this post however; is the idea that private gun owners are somehow incompetent and dangerous, and that police and other law enforcement officers are somehow more qualified, and better trained in firearms and their use.

This view is shared by MANY people, even many people who are otherwise not anti-gun. They believe that police officers are for the most part firearms experts, and highly trained in shooting.

Sadly, in most cases, this is not true. I don’t mean to denigrate the many fine law enforcement officers in this country; but most cops are not very good with guns; and most are sadly ignorant about them, both legally and technically.

Let’s do a little point-counterpoint here:

Point: I carry every day, all day.

Counterpoint: Most cops carry 8 hours a day (it amazes me that most cops don’t carry off duty).

Point: I carry a $2000 pistol, custom made for me, specifically to be incredibly accurate and reliable. I have several other pistols jsut as reliable (though perhaps not quite as accurate), and I can choose the appropriate pistol for the appropriate situation. I choose my supporting gear to specifically suit my personal, and situational needs.

Counterpoint: Most cops have one gun, often not well suited to their body, or shooting style. It is often maintained only in a basic fashion, and often worn or “loose” to the point of questionable accuracy. Because they are fired infrequently, it is difficult to judge reliability. Most cops are limited in their supporting equipment choices to that which the department issues.

Point: I extensively test all my ammunition options, select those that perform best, and then test those again to come up with an appropriate load which shoots accurately and reliably from my weapon, along with two backup loads.

Counterpoint: Most cops are limited to ammunition issued by their department, generally chosen based on cost; and may be limited to relatively ineffective chambering and loadings, because of cost, and political considerations.

Point: I have hundreds of hours of classroom training in small arms usage, and thousands of hours of range training. I have also delivered hundreds of hours of training to others. I try and take a training class at least every other year (more often if I can afford it), and up until recently was REQUIRED to do so every 4 years.

Counterpoint
: Most cops get 8-16 hours or so of classroom training at the beginning of their career, and if they are lucky 24 hours of range training. They then generally get no continuing classroom training with firearms throughout their careers, and at most 8 hours of range training per year (this is starting to improve in some departments).

Point: I shoot 500rds a week in a good month; every other week in a bad one.

Counterpoint: Most cops shoot less than 500 rounds per year… in fact many shoot less than 100 rounds a year. There are some law enforcement organizations which only require a 25 round qualification every other year.

Point
: I train to a standard of combat accuracy that requires the ability to put 5 shots into a 4” circle on a moving target at 10 yards (and I don’t always make it, but it’s always close).

Counterpoint: Most cops train to get 70% hits in a 16” x 18” oval

Point
: I train with a moving shooter, moving target, and both paper and reactive targets of varying sizes, at varying ranges, indoors and out; in varying weather conditions; strong and weak handed; and I include rapid reloading and malfunction drills in my training

Counterpoint
: Most cops “train” at a fixed range, with fixed lighting and weather conditions, a fixed target; and with little emphasis on reloads or malfunction clearance, using only “stock” shooting positions (though this is improving somewhat).

Point: I am not unusual in the community of shooters, in seeking and achieving this level of training and performance. There are 60,000 nationally ranked competitive practical pistol shooters, and many more non ranked shooters, across the various pistol shooting disciplines. There are several times that many competitive rifle shooters. Most of those people also carry concealed on a daily basis. Then there are the many thousands of students taking advanced pistol instruction every year.

Counterpoint: Of the 800,000 full time sworn law enforcement officers in the united states, not 1 in 100 is a “gun guy”; and most of those, are counted among the people I list above. They universally describe their competitive and other non-law enforcement training as many times better than that of their law enforcement agencies, and fellow officers.

So, really, who is Barney Pfife here?

What’s worse is, when anti-gun types ask me why I train so much (if they even bother); I tell them that I train because of people like this mass murderer. I tell them that I train, not because I want trouble, but because if trouble comes I don’t want to be unprepared for it. I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

When presented with this perfectly valid justification, they say things like “you’re paranoid” or “you’re a wannabe hero”, “you can’t protect yourself”, “you’re more of a danger to the people around you” etc…

WHY?

… Because they don’t trust themselves, and project that distrust onto others. Because they are afraid. Because they want to believe that they don’t HAVE to have the responsibility of doing the same themselves, they don’t have to protect themselves, they don’t have to protect others around them. Because they want to believe that the cops can protect them.

Anything that threatens this view creates a violent emotional response in them.

In fact I can guarantee you that when the anti-gun, anti-responsiblity, anti-liberty types find this post; there will be violent emotional responses all over the place in comments

Oh… and one more thing.

Point
: It takes a large man an average of 1.7 seconds from a standing, apparently non threatening start, to cross 7 yards (21 feet), and execute a knife slash on another person (a trained shooter can draw and fire in 1.5 seconds – though it is difficult).

Counterpoint: The average 911 response time in this country is 8 minutes

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you for your post.

    I would also add that this criminal could just have easily put cyanide in the cafeteria food or driven a car across the campus running people over or placed a bomb in a building. His weapon of choice was a gun to commit his heinous act. He was obviously disturbed and I would venture to say if is true he was in counseling and on prescription medication for depression that this was probably what made him do it. I am more shocked to hear that people knew he was troubled and did little when the warning signs appeared then I am to know he killed using a gun.
    Additionally, the campus does have a “no gun” policy.. and look at where that got them. Maybe they ought to have had a “no crazy/disturbed people on campus” policy.

    Comment by Judy Aron — April 17, 2007 @ 3:14 pm
  2. oh yeah and here is something else:
    True fact: the Roanoke (Va.) Times has put online an article originally published Jan. 31, 2006, about how the Virginia General Assembly defeated a proposed bill that would allow students to carry weapons on campus (with proper permits and such, of course). Here is an exact quote from the story:

    Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

    I wonder how safe they feel now..

    Comment by Judy Aron — April 17, 2007 @ 3:27 pm
  3. Something else I would like to add to your post is how often campus security are unarmed, though I haven’t heard if the VT campus police were allowed to carry or not. On the campuses without armed security, the “official” most likely to be the first on the scene can do no more than anyone else.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — April 17, 2007 @ 6:11 pm
  4. trumpetbob,

    Back in the day, we didn’t call campus police the 5-0… We called them the 2-point-5′s…

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — April 17, 2007 @ 7:34 pm
  5. Brad,

    On my college campus, we called them the Department of Parking Enforcement rather than the title the school gave, Department of Public Safety. They didn’t care about keeping people safe, but man, park your car with a tire on the line and they would hunt you down for their parking ticket money.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — April 18, 2007 @ 8:41 am
  6. The security guard at my high school back in 95′ in Denver carried a gun.

    Judy, nothing like a quote like that from the spokesman of VT to come back and bite him in the ass.

    I have been arguing the whole gun issue over at atheist in a mini van, it’s not even what the post was about, it was about Fox news, but it turned there in a hurry.

    Comment by Aimee — April 18, 2007 @ 1:25 pm
  7. Chris, btw, great points. I used to be one of those that thought concealed weapons were a bad thing. Stephen has slowly but surely been changing my mind.

    Comment by Aimee — April 18, 2007 @ 1:27 pm
  8. I’ve been working on her for a long time Chris. It’s good to see its paying off :)

    Comment by Stephen Littau — April 18, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

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