How Americans of a Different Era Ended Mass Deaths of Schoolchildren

My “discovered book” by Grove Patterson, written in 1954, includes this account of the author’s early years at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The main grade-school building in Collinwood, railroad town and suburb of Cleveland, was destroyed by fire during the afternoon session. In the panic that ensued 273 little boys and girls were burned or trampled to death. There has been no other school fire in American history to compare with it in stark horror.

The scene on the copy desk that night and until four o’clock in the morning is engraved in my memory. Tears flowed down the cheeks of oldtime, supposedly hard-boiled copyreaders as they handled column after column of vivid stories from the schoolhouse, the morgue and the homes of the bereaved.

As I reflect on whether we will as a nation do anything to stop the next Newtown massacre, I consider Patterson’s sentence “There has been no other school fire in American history to compare with it in stark horror”. Why was this statement true when Patterson wrote it 46 years after the Collinwood fire and why is it still true? Because Americans decided to use their government to make it true.

After Collinwood and some less deadly but still horrible school fires in the Progressive Era, U.S. schools were mandated to have fire escapes, paint that was free of accelerants, panic bars on exit doors, fire alarms and fire drills. No doubt it was expensive. No doubt some people resisted. No doubt some resented the imposition and complained about big government intruding on the lives of communities and individual citizens.

But American reformers got their government to do it, and that’s why no fire as deadly as the 1908 Collinwood blaze has happened in a U.S. school since.

People back then were not smarter than we are today. They certainly didn’t have more money or love their children any more than we do today. But they strongly believed that governmental action could save the lives of children, acted resolutely on those beliefs and made them real. May their courage and their faith in government inspire everyone who is now trying to stop the next Newtown.

Comments

  1. J.m.g. says

    Thank goodness no one profited enough from schoolhouse fires, unlike, say, gun sales or sale of fossil fuels.

  2. Brett Bellmore says

    Good thing it wasn’t today, or the response would have been locking down the building, so that nobody could escape while the firemen waited for the building to burn down and become safe to enter.

    Also, thank goodness the tragedy wasn’t exploited by people with a pre-existing desire to attack a civil liberty who only used it as a pretext for doing things they’d already wanted to do, but which wouldn’t have helped in the cases they used to justify them.

    • Anonymous says

      “…locking down the building, so nobody could escape while firemen waited for the building to burn down…”
      Weepin’ jebus that’s a stretch. I know your god given right to shoot targets without having to reload is under threat but really.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        Look, what’s the first thing they do, when they think they have a killer loose in the building? They lock all the doors, so that nobody can get away. Stretch? I think it’s exact. If you wanted a response to Newtown that was analogous to Collinwood, you’d give all the classrooms exterior exits, so that the moment you had a killer detected, the building would empty.

        • navarro says

          i rarely respond to your desperate cries for attention anymore because you’re both argumentative and thin-skinned and dealing with you is just too painful to contemplate but this is really too much. although school shootings are rare, the ones that have happened over the past 20 years indicate that attempted escape is not as useful as hiding in a locked or barricaded location. indeed, some of the school shootings of the past 2 decades have made use of fire alarms to bring targets out of cover.

        • Ack Ack Ack says

          Brett just wants easy targets to shoot when he goes on his Norway-inspired killing spree of Head Start liberals-in-the-making. Pull that fire-alarm and skeet skeet he’s gunning down all those easy targets running across the field.

        • Anonymous says

          I think reasonable people should be able to own reasonable types of weapons for reasonable purposes. When I read your arguments for absolute, no two ways about it right to own and carry a gun it just spurs me to argue against that idea of what the constitution says because it doesn’t sound reasonable.
          Plus the 2nd amendment starts with the modifier “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…” “Well regulated” kinda sets the stage for regulation, Brett. You must see this.
          Just for starters can’t we agree that say, a semi-automatic high capcity weapon has no more buisiness on the street than a nitro powered drag racer?

          • MobiusKlein says

            slippery slope, and us gun controller’s crazy need to control gun.

            But when Brett’s best suggestion when guns come out at a school is for 2000 kids to start running and screaming all over campus, streaming out of 3rd floor emergency exits, I doubt you will find much common ground on the ‘reasonable’ avenue.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            When your only argument against an idea is to suggest the stupidest possible implementation of it, and attribute it to the person suggesting the idea, you probably don’t have an argument.

          • navarro says

            instead of competitive strawman demolition, let me explain the practices in my school district which are fairly common practices in the state of texas. i am not offering the description as necessarily representing “best practices,” nor am i knowledgeable about the practices in any other state. my building contains three grades and serves ca. 740 students with 60 full-time staff, not counting the cafeteria staff. the entrances to the building are locked at all times and require a key card for entry. the front door has a bell with a camera and a visitor must ring the bell and wait for one of the office staff to buz them in. during a lockdown situation, either real or drill, all students and staff are to hide in a corner of a locked room that cannot be viewed from any window. the lights are to be turned off. we have a way of signaling to first responders if the intruder is not in our room. if the signal is not in place first responders will enter the room with guns drawn, prepared for action. we are to wait in our spots until a police officer unlocks our door and escorts us to a safe exit and out of the building. we are not to leave the room under any other circumstances. these practices have been established based on an analysis of attacks on schools over the past 25 years.

    • toby says

      I am sure parents always had a “burning” desire to ensure the safety of their children at all times.

      How downright unethical of them to use a tragedy like this one to their advantage.

    • doretta says

      This might be the most disgustingly disingenuous comment I’ve ever seen here and there have been some other whoppers.

      There are no people sitting around scheming to deny people the “civil liberty” of owning guns. Newtown is not “being used” by people who want more gun regulation. Newtown is at the heart of what people care about who do spend time working for gun regulation. If all people did with their guns is own them and use them lawfully and sensibly no one would care.

      That not what happens in the real world. In the real world men use guns to massacre large numbers of other people. Men use guns to kill their wives and/or themselves. People use guns to settle arguments and rob banks. Boys kill each other with guns to prove they are men. People leave their guns unsecured and their children kill each other or their playmates.

      All civil liberties are not created equal. The right to continue breathing and to have your heart continue to pump blood without having that cut short by someone else’s gun is a more fundamental right than the right to own a gun. Where two rights are in conflict, regulation is required. Were there no conflict there would be no need for regulation.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        “There are no people sitting around scheming to deny people the “civil liberty” of owning guns.”

        Why the sneer quotes, then? Don’t be absurd, of course there are people scheming to destroy this civil libery. People who wait in confidence for Obama’s next Supreme court nominee to make the Heller 4 the whatever 5, and wham, reversal, it’s no longer recognized by the judiciary as a civil liberty, despite remaining right there in the Bill of Rights. Just like the 14th amendment was still in the Constitution after the Supreme court gutted it in the Slaughterhouse cases.

        I suppose in a trivial sense there are relatively few people who will come right out and say that they’re trying to destroy a civil liberty. But that’s only to say that the people who want it destroyed won’t admit that it’s a civil liberty, or that what they want to do amounts to the destruction of it as a civil liberty.

        And why are essentially all of the laws proposed after Newtown pretty much irrelevant to what went down there, if it’s not being used pretextually?

    • Ohio Mom says

      IIRC, the claim that locking down school buildings is the only approach suggested in response to shooters has been made on at least one other thread here the the RBC and I wrote in response then, and will repeat myself here:

      I have been to a presentation by local law enforcement at my son’s high school and the CURRENT BEST PRACTICE DOES ENCOURAGE ESCAPE IF POSSIBLE.

      File this under, “Facts: real ones, not your own.”

        • Ohio Mom says

          Under “Unfortunately new information takes a while to fully disseminate” or maybe “For once, Mark Twain was wrong about Cincinnati.”

          I wouldn’t have left my first comment if Brett had written, “the response would have PROBABLY been locking down the building.” Because that’s unarguable. But if someone is going to insist that locking down is the only approach advocated, yes, I’m going to say, No, not everywhere.

          • Freeman says

            But if someone is going to insist that locking down is the only approach advocated, yes, I’m going to say, No, not everywhere.

            I don’t think he was saying that so much as observing that that’s how it’s currently done. I, for one, can think of no counter-example from recent history. A google search for “school shooting lockdown policy” turned up mostly examples of lockdown as immediate reaction to a suspected shooter on campus, though I found this article worth the read near the bottom of the first page of hits.

            I’m glad to hear that alternatives are being considered. Current policy offers a “canned hunt” environment to the Adam Lanzas out there.

        • Mitch Guthman says

          I’m not sure what point you and Brett are trying to make here but Ohio Mom is making way more sense than either of you. Also, the article you link to talks about lock-downs but doesn’t say or even remotely imply that they are locking the teachers and student in the school while dangerous people are running around there. If you’d actually read the article, the clear implication is that they are telling people to say put while the police are in the area looking for dangerous people who aren’t in the school and they want to keep people from these schools out of harms way and out of the possible line of fire. Why doesn’t that make sense to you?

          From what I’ve read, the idea of these lock-down plans is not to lock the students and teachers in but rather to put obstacles in the way of the rampage killer and also to reduce the number of people running around the campus. All of the experts that I’ve seen interviewed uniformly say that an escape route that leads directly out of the danger zone should be used in preference to staying put but that staying is generally better than running around in a panic. That also makes good sense to me. Again, why doesn’t it make sense to you?

          What’s more in at least one place, the kids and teacher will be facing an extra risk by moving around in the danger zone. I have read that Joe Arpaio, the famous lunatic publicity hound of a sheriff, has hired Steven Seagal to “train” a “volunteer posse” of, well, quite literally, weekend warriors to respond to school shootings. So, unless you have a direct route out of the danger zone, there’s that to contend with, too.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            “Why doesn’t that make sense to you?”

            Admittedly, given how many innocent people got shot up during the Dorner manhunt, so casually, you may have a point. So, the lockdown is to protect the students from the police, who might be in a mood to kill anything that moves, and not the murderer engaged in his “canned hunt”? (Thanks, Freeman, perfect term.) Terrifyingly plausible.

            Anyway, the larger point is that the response to the school fire wasn’t a direct and long desired attack on a civil liberty. If you wanted to respond to Newtown by equipping schools with gunshot tracking systems, so they’d instantly know somebody fired a gun, and where, you’d have something analogous to the pushbars on the doors. Immediately leap to attacking a civil liberty? Expect blowback.

  3. FuzzyFace says

    Fires are pretty well understood, and nobody has anything to gain politically from them. That’s not so for shootings, where the dominant political urge appears to be to pretend that shootings are inevitable whenever guns exist, and has nothing to do with the people using the guns.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      Yeah, I’d say that’s exactly the problem: They want to pretend that guns = shootings, and the actual people are just the passive instruments the guns use to accomplish this. So take away the guns, (Almost entirely from people who weren’t doing anything wrong!) and everything will be hunky dory with exactly the same people, because they won’t break the law to get a gun, or find some other way to kill. That’s their vision: A world full of mass murderers which is magically safe because you’ve told them they can’t have a gun.

      It has everything to do with the *people* who are using the guns. But you can’t target the people, because that would stigmatize mental illness, or some such.

      Or, more honestly, they just don’t like guns, and this is a handy pretext to take them away from people who weren’t hurting anyone.

      • Butterfly nets hanging out of Black helicopters says

        Or, more honestly, they just don’t like guns, and this is a handy pretext to take them away from people who weren’t hurting anyone.

        I’m on my way to get your guns son. On my way.
        I’m nearly flying overhead now.
        Hear the prop wash?
        I should be there any second.

        Bunker down boy!

      • Mitch Guthman says

        That’s nonsensical even by your usual standards. Surely it must be obvious even to you that guns do indeed equal shootings and that if nobody except military or police had guns, the number of rampage deaths by shootings would be zero. You can argue that your need to high-powered, military style weaponry is a right given to you by God and the founders and must not be abridged no matter how may innocents are regularly massacred by your fellow gun nuts. But how can you say there would still be shootings without guns? Seriously?

        • CharlesWT says

          “…if nobody except military or police had guns, the number of rampage deaths by shootings would be zero.”

          Does not compute.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            Charles, don’t you realize that a government pay stub in your wallet guarantees you’ll never go on a rampage?

          • Butterfly nets for bulletheads says

            Charles, don’t you realize that a government pay stub in your wallet guarantees you’ll never go on a rampage?

            No more than your lack of empathy and public display of mental illness guarantees you will go on an rampage.

          • Mitch Guthman says

            Why doesn’t it compute? We went for perhaps a hundred years or more with such rampage shootings. They began only when military style weaponry started being sold in large quantities to civilians. I can’t think of a single such rampage shooting that has been committed by either an active duty military or police officers using their government supplied weapons and ammo. No a single one. So, I believe that the number to date is indeed zero and, if history is a guide, will likely remain at zero.

            It is equally clear that if the country weren’t overflowing with high-powered weapons, there’s a very good chance that most of the gun massacres in our history would have been avoided if the lunatics involved hasn’t enjoyed such easy access to military style weapons and high capacity handguns. So, again, why doesn’t it compute?

          • CharlesWT says

            “I can’t think of a single such rampage shooting that has been committed by either an active duty military or police officers using their government supplied weapons and ammo.”

            I suppose you’re overlooking the mass shootings of labor strikers and collage students done under the color of law.

        • Brett Bellmore says

          Mitch, if guns equaled shootings, then everybody in the country would be dead by now, given that the guns are about equal in number to the population.

          • Mitch Guthman says

            I didn’t say that guns equaled shootings. What I said was that, perforce, no guns equals no shootings. How is that wrong?

            Also, to both you and Charles: Thus far there has been only one mass shooting by a member of the military and, as far as I’m aware, none by active duty police officers. The fact that some infinitesimal risk of rampage shootings would still remain if military style weapons and handguns were only in the hand of police and military does not somehow mean that we ought therefore to all civilian ownership of military style weapons and handguns.

          • Butterfly nets for bulletheads says

            Mitch: I didn’t say that guns equaled shootings.

            True, but if I invoke Brett’s own words perhaps you can find it in your heart, a way to forgive him his willful misconstrue:

            When your only argument against an idea is to suggest the stupidest possible implementation of it, and attribute it to the person suggesting the idea, you probably don’t have an argument.

            (This is fun. Like shooting fat fish in a small barrel with a large shot gun.)

          • Mitch Guthman says

            Freeman,

            If you own a dictionary and can use it, please look up “context”. My first response was to Brett’s argument that there is no relationship between guns and mass shootings. In the context of the response, it’s very clear that guns do indeed equal shootings because if they are no guns, there can be no shootings.

            If you look where I replied to Brett’s inane claim that “if guns equaled shootings, then everybody in the country would be dead by now, given that the guns are about equal in number to the population” you should be able to see that the phrase “I didn’t say that guns equaled shootings” responds to that claim. In context, then, I am saying that Brett’s claim that if “guns equaled shootings”(using his idiotic ratio of one gun, equals one shooting) is not responsive to my argument because I am simply saying that if there were no guns, then there would be no shootings. Surely that can’t be too difficult for even you to understand.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            Heck, there’s a relationship between libel and writing utensils, but we don’t say printing presses equal libel, and propose abolishing libel by banning printing presses. We recognize that almost all uses of printing presses AREN’T libel, and settle for prohibiting libel, instead, not the instrument that incidentally facilitates it while having massive legitimate uses.

            But that’s it, isn’t it? This absurdly over-inclusive proposal comes from people who don’t care to admit there are any legitimate uses for firearms, and who want to deprive everybody of them. Excuse me, everybody who doesn’t have that government pay stub, because they’re ok around guns.

            Yes, if you could magically cause every gun in the nation to vanish, and further, arrange that, magically, any future gun taken into or manufactured in the country vanished, it logically follows that there would be no school shootings in the country. School arsons, school poisonings, school vehicular homicides, all these categories would likely rise, but there would be no shootings.

            Unless you’ve been attending Hogwarts, who the hell cares about the logical consequences of magical interventions?

          • Freeman says

            Mitch: You completely lose me when you claim that your self-evident self-contradiction is coherent because “context”, while simultaneously stating that arguments with which you disagree are “inane”, “idiotic”, and “nonsensical even by your usual standards”, and raise questions as to whether or not those with whom you disagree “own a dictionary and can use it” and that an argument may be “too difficult for even you to understand”.

            Your “if there were no guns, there would be no shootings” claim is an irrelevant double-fantasy; there are guns, outlawing them won’t make them disappear any more than outlawing drugs does, and even if it did, there would still be shootings, just not with guns — next you’d have to outlaw anything that shoots a lethal projectile, like bows. It makes about as much sense as trying to ban fire in response to the Collinwood tragedy.

            One thing that is so obvious that it isn’t “too difficult for even I to understand” is that you feel your arguments are so weak that gratuitous insults will actually bolster them. At least there we find some common ground on which we can agree on something.

  4. SamChevre says

    There’s a really good short write-up of the Collinwood fire by Jim MacDonald on Making Light here.

    One major difference between fires and shootings is that one simple piece of non-controversial technology (outward-opening doors with panic bars) solves the problem, without imposing any significant costs on anyone. (It’s another case of “a good idea is the only free lunch around.”)

      • marcel says

        The general topic (of my comment, not the OP) is usage, as in “Would you say, ‘People back then were not smarter than us are’?”

        If you are going to be persnickety about “concerted” (admittedly you are concerned about definition rather than usage or style), or Mr. O’Hare is going to be concerned about writing more generally, certainly your readers can take members of this blog to task for poor grammar. We won’t try to keep you out of med school.

        ;)

        • Keith Humphreys says

          marcel: I don’t mind grammar or style corrections at all, it’s helps me write gooder. So seriously, thanks, I will edit that part, and please keep these kind of corrections coming.

          • marcel says

            a) They didn’t know how to spell back then either!

            b) Pthththth! I refute thee thus!

  5. D. Silver says

    May their courage and their faith in government inspire everyone who is now trying to stop the next Newtown.

    This is over-the-top.

    At Newtown, a deeply disturbed individual killed 26 people with legally-purchased guns that he illegally stole from his mother. If there had been an “assault weapon” ban, he could’ve used the handguns. If there was limit on the size of magazines, he could’ve either used multiple handguns or he could’ve switched out magazines, which can be done quite quickly.

    I don’t think this problem is as easily soluble as you do.

    • Mitch Guthman says

      The fact that it might be impossible to stop all lunatic rampage shooters from successfully killing anyone doesn’t really persuade me that we shouldn’t reduce the death toll by making mass killings as difficult as possible by outlawing civilian ownership of military style weaponry and handguns.

      • Brett Bellmore says

        I suppose, once you’ve openly rejected any conception of civil liberties or cost/benefit analysis, that we could seriously inconvenience pedophiles by requiring that computers only have text monitors, or just restricting the internet to government use. But let’s not.

  6. Ken Doran says

    “‘There has been no other school fire in American history to compare with it in stark horror. Why was this statement true when Patterson wrote it 46 years after the Collinwood fire and why is it still true?” The last phrase is debatable; 95 died in a Chicago school fire in 1958. That doesn’t defeat the argument, but it deserves to be noted. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_the_Angels_School_fire

    • Anonymous says

      It’s only debatable to people who don’t know that 95 is a smaller number than 273.

      • Bostonian in Brooklyn says

        Yes but there is not a linear relationship between “stark horror” and number of deaths. I think it hits a peak and levels off at a figure less than 95.

  7. valuethinker says

    As with child labour and slavery itself.

    Paccala says that in Elizabeth Kohlbert’s ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe’. At some point, global warming will become a moral issue, and we will do what is necessary to prevent it.

    There will be economic and political pain in that. Slave owners, and coal miners, and shareholders in coal mines, will lose money. Fundamental rights of human liberty, like driving a very polluting car or flying cheaply long haul, will be taken away.

    It will all feel very much like 1939 when they start handing out gas masks, and you are fined if you don’t have one (as they do in Israel during alert periods).

    And so, at some moment, the cost to individual liberty of restrictions on firearms ownership and carriage will not seem too great in light of the cost of the next Newtown. See Dunblane, Scotland. 14 children dead. The Tory government does nothing. And a woman from the town starts to campaign, and is asked to speak at the opposition (Labour Party) conference– there is not a dry eye in the house. And within 18 months the United Kingdom bans the private ownership of handguns.

    Contrary to Mrs. Thatcher, there is such a thing as a society. And there is such a thing as a moral consensus, which comes to find slavery unacceptable, child labour unacceptable, woman’s suffrage acceptable, access to legal abortion acceptable, capital punishment unacceptable in the practice if not the theory (polls suggest small majorities for capital punishment, but in practical examples shy away from it), and eventually the US love of uncontrolled access to guns will be found unacceptable.

    What is interesting is how unpredictable it is, and how once consensus hits that ‘tipping point’ just how much can change so quickly.

    • Keith Humphreys says

      Well said, valuethinker — The Australian response to the Port Arthur massacre is another example in the same vein.

  8. valuethinker says

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/major-and-blair-in-dunblane-feud-1350416.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowdrop_Campaign

    700,000 signatures. that would be like 3.5 million in America. One of the first campaigns by email so a cultural phenomenon in its own right. Who knew?

    text of her speech below:

    Believe me only a total ban will do; How Snowdrop campaigner Ann Pearston moved 5000 people to silent tears…

    Believe me only a total ban will do; How Snowdrop campaigner Ann Pearston moved 5000 people to silent tears…

    That statement is as true today as it was then.

    No action was taken against handguns after Hungerford, despite the fact that nine of Ryan’s victims were killed with a legally held pistol.

    WHY NOT? Because the gun lobby fought tooth and nail to preserve the sport of target shooting. This sport allows people like Hamilton easy access to guns.

    Criminals do not go into primary schools and commit massacres It may never be fully completed or, depending on its its nature, it may be that it can never be completed. However, new and revised entries in the list are always welcome. . This only happens when legally-held guns are misused

    Let’s give the police absolute discretion over licensing. Let’s give them power to inspect gun owners’ premises unannounced.

    On 13th March, Hamilton inflicted 17 death sentences and multiple life sentences.

    There will be no reprieve reprieve ( in law, see pardon. , no parole parole (pərōl`), in criminal law, release from prison of a convict before the expiration of his term on condition that his activities be restricted and that he report regularly to an officer. for good behaviour, no right of appeal.

    People may have the impression that all is better now, that the children are all happily running back to school.

    Well, they aren’t.

    Those who survived were shot up to four times.

    They include a child who lost the sight of one eye, a child in a wheelchair wheel·

    After Hungerford they set up the Firearms This is an extensive list of small arms — pistol, machine gun, grenade launcher, anti-tank rifle — that includes variants.

    :Eight and a half years is all it took before the Hungerford memories faded and the relaxation set in.

    Certificate periods increased from three to five years, civilians replaced police in firearms departments and gun licences could be renewed by post.

    Shooting organisations say they will support any reasonable measure to prevent another Dunblane. But I believe they put their own rights to hold guns above the safety of others.

    They really don’t see that Hamilton and Dunblane was anything to do with them.

    A complete handgun ban is the only answer to Dunblane.

    Leave handguns in clubs and a planner like Hamilton will just book them out for a competition or put them in his pocket and walk out.

    There is growing anger and frustration that what happened at Dunblane was not seen as sufficient to justify a complete ban on handguns.

    BELIEVE ME – IT IS.

    Dunblane paid the price for compromise after Hungerford.

    Yesterday was a little girl’s sixth birthday.

    She got cards and flowers but she wasn’t there to blow the candles out on her cake.

    She was Sophie North.

    Compromise cost her her life.
    COPYRIGHT 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
    No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
    Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

  9. Sebastian H says

    “People back then were not smarter than us. They certainly didn’t have more money or love their children any more than we do today. But they strongly believed that governmental action could save the lives of children, acted resolutely on those beliefs and made them real. May their courage and their faith in government inspire everyone who is now trying to stop the next Newtown.”

    This kind of argument annoys me because it applies equally well to essentially all moves by the government. The current iteration of the war on drugs was implemented because people love their children and wanted to stop the next Len Bias, because Tip O’Neill wanted to use his death for political ammo to prove that Democrats weren’t soft on crime, and there was resolute bipartisan action to make those beliefs about government real.

    And you know what? Our lives are MUCH worse than they could have been if they hadn’t acted with the strong belief that government action could save the lives of our children from drugs.

    • Sufferin' Succotash says

      So I guess that means that all moves by government are equally misguided.

  10. Butterfly nets hanging out of Black helicopters says

    because Tip O’Neill wanted to use his death for political ammo to prove that Democrats weren’t soft on crime…

    Amazing. The writer thinks the war on drugs (an incredibly complicated thing) can be traced back and blamed on one man.
    Let this be a warning to all of you treasure good thinking: Ideology is so powerful it can strip a man of wisdom and fill him with inanities.

  11. Sebastian H says

    Ummm no and no. I don’t think all government interventions are equally bad and I don’t think the modern drug war is traceable to just one person. I do think that creating a whole new class of possession based crimes isn’t very similar to building regulations. And I do think the what about the children argument is used more to shut down debate than to actually explore the pros and cons of anything. See also the actual practice of drug laws and sex offender lists.

    • Mitch Guthman says

      Actually, it would simply be expanding an existing class of possession based crimes. This has been proved to work elsewhere, unless you’re also saying that real Americans aren’t as law-abiding as the descendents of a bunch of transported criminals. There is simply no civilian need for such weapons and eliminating them from our society would largely eliminates there rampage killings.

      • CharlesWT says

        So, how are you going to eliminate all those weapons? A rampaging police state?

        • Mitch Guthman says

          I assume that most Americans are law-abiding, even gun owners. If the gun industry faces draconian penalties for selling to civilians, I presume that will soon stop doing so when they see that society is serious about gun control. If the flow of new military style weapons and high capacity handguns is stopped and most people turn in theirs, it seems likely that over time the number of such weapons in circulation will diminish, they will become ever more expensive and difficult to obtain.

          You, Freeman and Brett would all turn yours in if that’s what the law required, wouldn’t you?

          • CharlesWT says

            “…most people turn in theirs,…”

            This hasn’t happen elsewhere. Passing a law and having it enforced and obeyed is several different things.

            “You, Freeman and Brett would all turn yours in if that’s what the law required, wouldn’t you?”

            Hell no!

          • Freeman says

            I assume that most Americans are law-abiding, even gun owners.

            You assume quite a lot, Mitch. Nobody is law-abiding, it isn’t even possible any more:
            “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” said John Baker, a retired Louisiana State University law professor who has also tried counting the number of new federal crimes created in recent years. “That is not an exaggeration.”

            If the gun industry faces draconian penalties for selling to civilians, I presume that will soon stop doing so when they see that society is serious about gun control.

            We’ve been “serious” about our ever-escalating “war on drugs” for over 40 years now, with SWAT-team no-knock shoot-your-dogs-if-you’re-lucky-and-your-family-too-if-you’re-not raids and draconian penalties a-plenty. How’s that one going?

            If the flow of new military style weapons and high capacity handguns is stopped and most people turn in theirs, it seems likely that over time the number of such weapons in circulation will diminish, they will become ever more expensive and difficult to obtain.

            That’s a pretty big IF when anyone can just download this gun and print their own gun parts. (Warning: if Mele’s article made you uncomfortable, you really won’t like this one!)

            You, Freeman and Brett would all turn yours in if that’s what the law required, wouldn’t you?

            Sorry Mitch, pass whatever laws you may, but you’re still gonna have to send someone to take mine by force. Those who will not fight to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens do not deserve the liberties that others have fought to defend for us all. The absence of liberty is tyranny and ultimately slavery; those who beat their swords into plowshares end up plowing for those who kept their swords.

          • CharlesWT says

            Gun buy-backs are really great. You take in two or three pieces of junk and you have enough money to buy a nice Glock.

          • Brett Bellmore says

            So far I haven’t noticed Taurus, Mossberg, S&W, or even Calico Light Weapon Systems offering to buy any of my guns off me. And they’re the only ones who could buy them back.

  12. Mitch Guthman says

    Freeman,

    I read the second article. This lunatic Melé wants the brave new world of maximum guns where we’re all tooled up like Dodge City on a Saturday night, ready to draw our guns and engage the bad guys just like Chuck Norris. Not only is this nutter proposing that teachers be armed but that they be heavily armed. He even says that classrooms should be equipped with “flash bang” grenades.

    I can only presume that you and Anthony Melé were never children and so never attended school or perhaps you are both so enamored of the world of maximum guns that you have both taken leave of your senses.

    Of course, it seems not to have occurred to this “security expert” that there’s never been a terrorist invasion of a school. What’s has been an all to frequent occurrence, however, are situations like the Newton rampage killing where a heavily armed gun nut goes berserk and uses his arsenal of military style weapons to kill innocents. It also never seems to have occurred to him that the better alternative would be remove these weapons from our society.

  13. SamChevre says

    He even says that classrooms should be equipped with “flash bang” grenades.

    Since flash-bang grenades are designed to stun without harming, that seems to me like a sensible idea.

    • Brett Bellmore says

      Since flash bang grenades, despite that design, frequently cause injuries anyway, I’m not so sure.

    • valuethinker says

      And these are *kids*: what might stun and injure an adult could cause serious injury to a small person.