- One side wants to control the guns.
- The other side wants to control the lunatics.
Nah, that'll never happen.
Of course the delusion is that, even with the best will in the world, we could do either. The IRA used to arm themselves through raids on police stations and army barracks in a land with stringent gun control.How certain do you have to be to pre-emptively lock someone away?
If lunatics are deprived of guns, we would need worry only about their car bombs, suicide vests, hijacked airliners, and retail knife attacks. Or perhaps simply cars driven at high speed into crowds of pedestrians.
Is it an improvement if the attacker must plan more carefully?
The terrible slaughter of the schoolchildren in Michigan in 1927 was carried out using dynamite -- by a tax-protesting farmer who was facing foreclosure.Was the killer in Orlando just a lunatic with fears about his own masculinity, or was he a jihadi propelled by the traditional teaching of the Qur'an? Maybe this is not an "either/or" question. It could be "both/and."
At his speech in Orlando, the president of the USA said, "We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer." Really? Allahu akbar wasn't a clue?
That's not entirely silly. The motto "Any port in a storm" applies to mental ports and mental storms as well. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Party members in the Near East started joining Islamist groups.Were they true blue muslims any more than they had been true blue reds? Or had they simply been anti-West all along?Let's not jump to conclusions? Why not? Think of all the other conclusions we have jumped to when they fit our narrative. Remember when Gabby Giffords was shot "because" of talk radio? Or the embassy in Benghazi was sacked "because" some Copt made an insulting video? Or, as some initially supposed, the federal office building in Oklahoma City had been bombed by jihadis?
It's easy to talk about "X legislation," but the devil is in the details. What are the words in the law? What riders are attached? Even public legislation is apt to have fine print. There's more to a law than its title. Its provisions, for one.
In 2014, terrorists in China killed 29 people (other accounts say 31) and injured 140 at the Kunming railway station in Yunnan. They did it using long knives. Do the Chinese need long knife control?
Does anyone ever check the laws they propose? The Patriot Act was passed in response to 9/11, but had the act been in effect at the time, the attack would not have been prevented. Its like passing a law to regulate ham sandwiches following a shark attack.
Seth McFarlane and Susan Sarandon have tweeted for a ban on automatic weapons. Oh, that'll help. Possession of automatic weapons ("machine guns," "Tommy guns") has been tightly regulated since Prohibition. They have not been used in any of the mass killings that have taken place since, I think, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. (when seven Irish gangsters were killed by Italian gangsters. Our threshold for shock was lower back then.)
Another tweet: "BBC just said the gun used in the shooting can 'fire 700 rounds per minute.'" We can only hope the Beeb is not that stupid. No semi-automatic can possibly do that, since the trigger must be pulled independently for each shot. Is there any reason to listen to people who don't know what they're talking about?
Insert comment on listening to favorite candidate X here.Another tweet: "Clinton on CNN: We did have an assault weapons ban for 10 years, and i think it should be reinstated." But when the assault weapon ban was repealed, murders by rifle dropped by one-third, contrary to pearl-clutching predictions of the havoc about to be unleashed. In 2014, 248 people were murdered with rifles; 660 with hands, fists or feet.
What exactly is an "assault" rifle? How does it differ from the more passive sort used in match play target competition?
The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles if they had
1) a detachable magazine, plusA grenade launcher? Really? And how does a collapsible stock make the rifle more deadly than a fixed stock -- but only if the rifle also has a bayonet lug?
2) any two of the following five features:
- a collapsible stock,
- a pistol grip,
- a bayonet mount,
- a flash suppressor, or
- a grenade launcher.
IOW, they wanted to ban guns that looked scary.
There is hoo-hah today that no one on a terrorist watch list or the no-fly list should be able to buy a gun legally. I agree. But the jihadi in question was on neither list at the time he bought his guns.
Well, then... anyone who has ever been on such a list. Even if he was investigated and cleared? Urrr. OK. Yes, even then. Better safe than due process. And what happens when our opponents win the elections? Do we let them put us on lists? Could there be civil liberty issues connected with these panicky over-responses?
Now imagine that Trump is president. Still want mere suspicion to be grounds for being listed? Do you suppose the authority will never be extended to other issues beside terrorism? Are the fears once expressed regarding the plasticity of the Patriot Act suddenly null and void?One of the four bills voted down this week would have allowed a temporary bar for people merely suspected. The government would have 72 hours to substantiate the accusation or remove the hold. We can quibble about the time limit. Maybe it's too short. But it does try to address the issue of people unjustly accused, maybe because they "look muslim."
Who was it who said, "Why let a good crisis go to waste"?
Probably not the same one who said, "Hard cases make bad law."+++++
Someone thinks if we keep out illegal immigrants, these things would not happen. But none of these mass killings afik has been carried out by illegal immigrants. The Boston Marathon bombers were legal immigrants whose parents had been granted political asylum. The 9/11 hijackers were on visitor or student visas. The Ft. Hood, San Bernadino, Orlando perpetrators were all American-born. So were Timothy McVeigh, Charles Roberts, Dylan Roof, and others. But why let a good crisis go to waste if we can buffalo folks into pushing through a pet peeve of ours?
Someone thinks we can keep out jihadis by a ban on muslim immigration. That's like keeping out the Mafia by banning Italians or keeping out IRA terrorists by banning Irish.
The problem with banning guns or banning muslims is that most guns are never used to commit crimes, let alone mass murders; and most muslims never commit crimes, let alone mass murders.
This results in enormous waste of effort spent in reviewing or controlling people or things that will never be a problem. The consequence of conducting massive inspections that mostly yield nothing is that a) the inspectors become bored and routinized and stop paying close attention and/or b) they become bored and start "finding" things to keep themselves occupied. (TOF has seen industrial inspectors actually make defects just in order to find them.)Surely, security agencies will not make terrorists just to have someone to find! But think of all the Fenians and IRB members the British created by their response to the '98 Rising. (And during and in the aftermath of the Easter Rising, the vast majority of the Irish were opposed to the republicans. What turned the tide was how the British overreacted afterward.)
100% inspection is also remarkably inefficient.This is why:
How many sheep do you want to round up with the goats? Especially if the sheep will grow irritable at long lines and false accusations and eventually vote for the other party?
- Suppose you are screening a population of one million people for the dread disease Red Squamish. Unbeknownst to you, 5% of the population carries the virus. You have a test for the disease that is 95% effective on both the α and β risks. What happens?
- 50,000 people (5%) have Red Squamish. If the screening is 95% effective, 47,500 will be detected. That means 2,500 carriers will pass undetected (They are called "false negatives").
- 950,000 people (95%) are uninfected. If the screening is 95% effective, 47,500 will fail the screening anyway. (They are called "false positives").
- The screening therefore nets 95,000 cases half of whom are not actually infected. You will think the population is 9.5% infected instead of the actual 5%.
The only solution is to pre-identify probable goats and focus the screening on them. It is generally more effective to look where something is more likely to be found. There ought to be a name for that.+++++
They attack us with guns and IEDs. We retaliate with candlelight vigils, tears, and group hugs. That'll scare them into stopping.
A different kind of message: when a Jordanian pilot was tortured and killed by ISIS, the king of Jordan hopped in a jet and personally bombed ISIS targets in Syria.What if the killer had targeted a Trump rally instead of a night club. Would we still have seen the same outpouring of sympathy? Or maybe an outpouring of Schadenfreud instead.
We were told yesterday not to let politics stand in the way of doing something about the problem. Was this a call for gun control or for profiling? And why isn't foot-dragging on the other one "playing politics"? Whichever one you think is the other.
A civil war is underway for the soul of Islam. Most of the victims of jihad have been other muslims. Westerners are stage props in an intra-muslim psychodrama.
And lest we forget, most mass murders in this country have been carried out by non-muslims. What price profiling or gun control when Timothy McVeigh parks his truck?
When a guy goes off his nut, he will wrap himself in whatever garb feels comfortable to him. He might wrap himself in the Qur'an, or he might wrap himself in the American flag. Mostly, targets have been ex-wives and bosses and he wraps himself in a marriage certificate or visitation order or some other treasured but now abrogated relationship.
There are many ideologies, but sometimes the murderous personality precedes adopting the ideology and sometimes it is a result thereof.
It was nice to see the president swell up with anger and denunciation. If only he spoke that way about jihadi terrorists and not only about Donald Trump.
How does road rage figure into this? Are these mass killings simply the most dramatic cases of a much broader retail problem: that people seem more ready to resort to physical violence against frustrations?
Still waiting for the much-feared anti-muslim backlash.
(If we didn't get one on 9/12, when will we?)