Gabrielle’s Law

I can’t believe some of the s..t that’s turning up in the comment threads on many web sites. The following may be a misuse of the RBC to try to cope with really profound bitterness I’m experiencing, and if so I apologize, and my fellow RBCers are authorized to take it down if they see fit.

First, fellow citizens, let us shrink from assigning blame for this terrible act of a madman to the patriots guilty of nothing but framing their love of country in language like “Second Amendment remedies” and visual puns like crosshairs.  There is absolutely no way these leaders could know anyone having access to a Glock with a 20-round magazine would think a harmless metaphor for political engagement has anything to do with actual violence, or even to know that such people exist.  To accuse them is as unjust and irrational as to blame those who preach death for blasphemy and for those who tolerate it, when a devout follower of the Prophet acts on the sermons, and when thousands of the faithful throw rose petals on him for it.

Now, there is an important lesson already taught by today’s tragedy, and that is the feeble inadequacy of our gun laws, and the terrible cost in human life of that weakness.  Arizona is one of the genuinely free states, whose citizens rejoice in the right to carry concealed weapons without a permit, and yet…! An armed citizenry is a safe one, but the really shocking part of today’s episode is that “allowed to be armed” is not enough: not one of the Arizonans present except Loughner used this precious freedom to shoot anyone, apparently not even to draw a piece! Some of them may have inexcusably left home without their weapons, and the rest incompetently (or timidly) failed to use them; all need to be identified by name and address, with pictures, and held accountable at least in the forum of public opinion.

Real Americans would have had their heat out and shot anyone they took to be the original shooter, and before Loughner emptied his magazine. With freedom comes responsibility, and a lot of people in Tucson didn’t use theirs, and that’s the plain fact.  This is where we need to clothe our duties with the dignity of law, and I propose the following, with some optional features.

Whereas, yada, and furthermore yada yada;

Now therefore be it enacted:

Article 1.

A.From [effective date] no [person/white person/Anglo person/male person etc.] over the age of [13/16/21] shall be abroad in a public place without a loaded repeating firearm of a type approved by [agency/outsource to local NRA chapter] on his person.

B. Any [citizen/NRA member in good standing] shall be authorized to inspect obliged parties under this article and to effect arrest for violation. Upon a finding of guilt in a criminal court, violators shall be subject to [a fine of $XXX/a period in the public stocks of not less than YYY hours/etc.] and for two years following the offense shall be obliged to carry two (2) approved weapons as per this article.

Article 2. Any person obligated under Article 1 present at a crime involving deadly force, or a circumstance where a reasonable person would consider such a crime incipient or likely, who does not shoot someone present, preferably the initial or probable perpetrator, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor etc.

I do not think even this will work, owing to reflex times, holster friction, and like that, and therefore I believe Article 1 should be amended to read

“…without a loaded firearm [etc] in his shooting hand, cocked if of single-action design, provided that such weapon may be laid upon a counter, table, etc. at a distance of no more than 20 inches when it is necessary to use two hands to make change, cut steak, etc, but for a period not exceeding sixty seconds.” Extremism in defense of anything you really care a lot about is not only no vice, and not merely a privilege, but a duty, and a posse of all the citizenry is no posse at all if it’s not ready to fire.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

13 thoughts on “Gabrielle’s Law”

  1. Thomas's attempt at an argument is an example of why intelligent conversation has broken down on the right.

    A man who supports the gold standard and likes Ayn Rand and Hitler along with Marx is left wing rather than simply politically incoherent. You call him left wing.

    According to you a man who think that the language of violence breeds violence is hateful.

    A man who sees a perfect correlation between right wing attacks on radical Muslims and their own rhetoric leading to violence is hateful – because the truth hurts.

    Thomas, you are not a credit to your species. Your arguments, if they can be dignified with that term, are an example of a completely bankrupt ideology, with as much coherence as those in Mao's Little Red Book. No wonder you guys like the language of violence. You cannot handle any other.

  2. Happiness is warm gun, bang, bang, shoot, shoot.*

    *Some leftist hippy named John. See that proves all those hippies are pro violence.

  3. This has been suggested, see Robert A Heinlein's 'The Door into Summer' about a society where men are required to go armed (and, if they do not, they are second class citizens).

  4. Malcolm, if you could just clarify: do you expect _higher_ quality stuff from government than from the private sector, or did you omit the word "even" between "pathetic" and "for"?

    There remains the problem that every professor I know or know of is tax-subsidized, either directly by being in a public payroll like me, or employed in a 501c3 nonprofit that receives tax-deductible gifts and doesn't pay property tax, or from government-subsidized student loans. Do you have a solution for this?

  5. "First, fellow citizens, let us shrink from assigning blame for this terrible act of a madman to the patriots guilty of nothing but framing their love of country in language like “Second Amendment remedies” and visual puns like crosshairs."

    I share your bitterness, but I wish this statement were a little less sarcastic. The crosshairs map was stupid and irresponsible, but I'm skeptical this nutcase's actions are a direct result. If they are the indirect result of general political vitriol, then I expect left and right share responsibility, and I guess this part of your post doesn't improve the situation. I can't even figure out Loughner's politics.

  6. (O'Hare): "Malcolm, if you could just clarify: do you expect _higher_ quality stuff from government than from the private sector, or did you omit the word 'even' between 'pathetic' and 'for'?"

    I expect what I see repeatedly, to recur. I expect Professors of Public Policy at State universities to shill for their employer (the State). Sometimes some of them surprice me and recommend market solutions to resource allocation questions. I expect the quality of analysis to vary with the prestige of the institution (with a lot of departure from the regression line). I've revised my expectations of Berkeley and UCLA downward, lately.

    (O'Hare): "There remains the problem that every professor I know or know of is tax-subsidized, either directly by being in a public payroll like me, or employed in a 501c3 nonprofit that receives tax-deductible gifts and doesn’t pay property tax, or from government-subsidized student loans. Do you have a solution for this?"

    I think so.

  7. thanks for the link, Malcolm

    So, pass a "read and compute" exam = "educated", and employer competition will sort out the rest of it.

    But some lefty is messing with your blog, and has made it appear you want the State to be a monopolist of these exams. Please be assured I don't think that of you for a minute.

  8. (O'Hare): "So, pass a “read and compute” exam = “educated”, and employer competition will sort out the rest of it."

    If it's good enough for the California Bar, the US Foreign Service, and the Society of Actuaries, who am I to disagree?

    (O'Hare): "But some lefty is messing with your blog, and has made it appear you want the State to be a monopolist of these exams. Please be assured I don’t think that of you for a minute."

    Thanks for the sense of humor. You make the same objection as Neal McCluskey. I'm not recommending that these exams provide the only road to certification. Imagine a room with various doors and windows opening through various walls. I'm suggesting opening cutting four new doorways through the K-12 wall and four new doorways through the post-secondary wall. This does not close any other doors, except that the others lapse through disuse. I'm notM suggesting that no one else open other new doors.

  9. I hoped for an epidemiological approach to violence. Consider this.

    And this…

    Hyman and Penroe,

    Journal of School Psychology.

    "Several studies of maltreatment by teachers suggest that school children report traumatic symptoms that are similar whether the traumatic event was physical or verbal abuse (Hyman, et.al.,1988; Krugman & Krugman, 1984; Lambert, 1990). Extrapolation from these studies suggests that psychological maltreatment of school children, especially those who are poor, is fairly widespread in the United States…."

    "In the early 1980s, while the senior author was involved in a school violence project, an informal survey of a random group of inner city high school students was conducted. When asked why they misbehaved in school, the most common response was that they wanted to get back at teachers who put them down, did not care about them, or showed disrespect for them, their families, or their culture…."

    "…schools do not encourage research regarding possible emotional maltreatment of students by staff or investigatiion into how this behavior might affect student misbehavior…."

    "…Since these studies focused on teacher-induced PTSD and explored all types of teacher maltreatment, some of the aggressive feelings were also caused by physical or sexual abuse. There was no attempt to separate actual aggression from feelings of aggression. The results indicated that at least 1% to 2% of the respondents' symptoms were sufficient for a diagnosis of PTSD. It is known that when this disorder develops as a result of interpersonal violence, externalizing symptoms are often the result (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)."

    "While 1% to 2% might not seem to be a large percentage of a school-aged population, in a system like New York City, this would be about 10,000 children so traumatized by educators that they may suffer serious, and sometimes lifelong emotional problems (Hyman, 1990; Hyman, Zelikoff & Clarke, 1988). A good percentage of these students develop angry and aggressive responses as a result. Yet, emotional abuse and its relation to misbehavior in schools receives little pedagogical, psychological, or legal attention and is rarely mentioned in textbooks on school discipline (Pokalo & Hyman, 1993, Sarno, 1992)."

    "As with corporal punishment, the frequency of emotional maltreatment in schools is too often a function of the socioeconomic status (SES) of the student population (Hyman, 1990)."

    Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Howard M. Knoff;

    Education and the Treatment of Children, V. 26, #1, Feb. 2003.

    "Results showed that the over-representation of Black males that has been cited consistently in the literature begins at the elementary school level and continues through high school. Black females also were suspended at a much higher rate than White or Hispanic females at all three school levels."

    Clive Harber,

    "Schooling as Violence"

    Educatioinal Review p. 10, V. 54, #1.

    (Quoting) "…It is almost certainly more damaging for children to be in school than to out of it. Children whose days are spent herding animals rather than sitting in a classroom at least develop skills of problem solving and independence while the supposedly luckier ones in school are stunted in their mental, physical, and emotional development by being rendered pasive, and by having to spend hours each day in a crowded classroom under the control of an adult who punishes them for any normal level of activity such as moving or speaking."

    E. G. West

    Department of Economics

    Carleton University

    Ottawa, Canada

    Schooling and Violence

    "We conclude that so far there is no evidence to support the 19th century Utilitarian hypothesis that the use of a secular and public school system will reduce crime. Beyond this there is some evidence indeed that suggests the reverse causality: crime actually increases with the increase in the size of the public school sector."

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