Sunday, December 16, 2012

Random thoughts on a school shooting.

Since Adam Lanza shot 27 people in a Connecticut school, I've been having a number of conversations over the last several days, primarily on Facebook and in what we laughingly call "real life." (I have yet to work up the interest in trolling right-wing blogs, though. Not sure why - perhaps the open futility of logic in this case.)

It's surprising how often I've been hearing the same tropes, too.

You know, if one of those teachers had owned a gun, none of this would have happened!
Actually, one of them owned several guns. Her son used them to kill her, and 26 other people.

And in fact, if you review the data (and this analysis is slightly flawed, but data is data), of the 17 mass shootings he analyzed, 11 were, in fact, stopped by civilians. But only in one of them was the shooter gunned down by someone carrying a weapon (one other was wounded by a civilian with a firearm, but he escaped, and later shot himself). The most common endings for these situations is a gunman shooting himself, or getting tackled by unarmed civilians; police killing the gunman actually came in third.

In fact, the most common ending for armed civilians entering the fray? Increased confusion, more collateral damage, and more wounded bystanders. So, once again, the "conventional wisdom" turns out to be completely inaccurate.

Students were killed because liberals ended prayer in school!
Or any of a thousand variations on a theme. Really, there's only one answer to statements like that.
(On a side note and something of a non sequiter, Westboro Baptist Church announced their intention to picket the funerals of the children. And within hours, the hacker group Anonymous released the contact information of many of the more public members, so you can contact them and tell them how you feel. Just thought I'd mention.)

There've been a few new tropes of late, though. I had the following exchange after tossing out a simple picture like this:

Guy: I would only point out that they should be focusing on the societal issues that causes this piece of dirt to think this was a viable option.

Me: And one of the societal issues? The easy availability of guns. How is it that every other 1st world country can handle this problem but us? Why are we down with the 3rd world countries in per capita gun deaths?

Girl: It's been said many times before: guns don't kill people, crazy idiots with guns kill people

Me: Guns don't kill people. People kill people. By throwing bullets at each other.

Still me: 27 children. Dead. I'm just saying.

Guy: Lol at your wikipedia reference. it would be a little more believable if the dates the data was cherry picked from matched and if the US didn't have three years of data to every others one year (exception being Argentina)

Still the guy: and yes 27 people killed is a horrible tragedy. Maybe we should spend some time grieving first and then discussing why it happened at a more appropriate time.

Me: Huh. Interesting theory. Ignoring your wish to get all the data from a source that doesn't exist, there have been 4 mass shootings this year alone. There have been two a year for the last 3 decades. If we followed your advice and waited until an appropriate time, it's a discussion that would never happen. So, since we obviously need it, when do you suggest? And how many people need to die before we do?
Please note the two newest tropes on display up there:

We should take care of the societal issues that cause the problems, not the problems themselves.


Now is not the time to talk about this. There should be time to mourn. We should wait until emotions aren't running as high.

I believe Jon Stewart pointed out the problems with that last point.

So in the end, there are no new arguments. Just the same ones, louder.

1 comment:

StevenK said...

I hear you, Bill, I hear you. I live in a state where lots of folks love their guns, and when our local paper printed an editorial cartoon in the wake of this terrible tragedy that truly drives this issue home, well, just look at the collective shit fit that got thrown:

Happy reading.