There Ought to be a Law

June 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm (Guns)

A reportedly insane (by his sister) 88 year old man shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC this afternoon.

Maybe a law to keep people from having loaded rifles would have helped – or not.

Or maybe if a convicted felon (he once tried to kidnap the Federal Reserve board) were prohibited from owning guns – but wait, they are.

Is there any way to prevent this kind of incident?

Sure, but that’s not a price I’m willing to pay.  All that would be required would be to find all the crazy, hateful people, and lock them up (or dispose of them in other ways).  The Chinese have occasional success with it, and the Nazi’s that he idolized were quite good at it as well.  That’s a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

So, what does this unfortunate incident show?

Crazy people, especially hateful ones, will do crazy and hateful things – up to and including killing people.  Laws to prevent them from doing so just aren’t effective, since they aren’t interested in following them.

In this case, the best possible thing happened.   An armed man at the scene prevented him from injuring or killing a whole lot more people.  It is obvious that his intention was to cause as much death & destruction as possible.  This differs from other ‘active shooter’ incidents in that the gun used to stop him was already at the scene.  If it hadn’t been, the police would have taken at least minutes to respond.   It’s uncomfortable to think about the amount of damage that he could have done in those minutes as the only armed person among thousands of unarmed people.  There is an appropriate quote at the Holocaust Museum’s website, ‘At that time, a gun and a million dollars, the gun was worth more than a million dollars.’

All you need to do is compare the outcome of the Virginia Tech and the Binghamton Immigrant Center with the ones at New Life Church and the Holocaust Museum.  The difference is clear.

What if he had picked a different place, one without armed guards?

Some place like a shopping center, school, library, swimming pool, or mall?  We’ve already seen examples of those.  The shooter will kill and continue to do so until they are confronted.  If the gun used to confront him has to be brought from somewhere else by a police officer, then the casualty list is long.  If it’s already there, then the list is shorter.

But why were all the other people unarmed?  Because THEY aren’t crazy, and followed the law.  So the effect of the laws exclusively keep NON-CRIMINALS disarmed.

Why didn’t the laws work?

But they did.  And do, just not the way they were intended.  The laws were 100% effective at keeping HONEST, LAW ABIDING people from breaking the laws.  In short, people that weren’t inclined to be violent were prevented from having defensive tools, while the violent, crazy man didn’t bother obeying the law.

What can be done?

If we aren’t going to eliminate or isolate all the violent crazy people, including potential ones, then incidents like these will continue.  You can’t legislate sanity.  The only practical thing is to minimize the damage caused by them.  And the best way to do that is to make sure that as many non-crazy people as possible have the means to stop an attack as soon as it starts.  Since it isn’t possible for everyone to have an armed escort, the next best thing would be to be your own armed escort.  Remember that the guard that stopped the Holocaust Memorial shooter wasn’t a cop, but an employee of a private security firm.  The Holocaust Memorial delegated the job of protecting them to the security firm.  Each indivicual has the right to defend themselves, and hiring a bodyguard for that purpose is merely delegating that job to someone else.  It’s a common misconception that the police are there for that purpose, but numerous court rulings, including one from the Supreme Court show otherwise.  The police have a general responsibility to the public as a whole, not to any individual.

Your safety is entirely your responsibility.  I’d suggest that you act accordingly.

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