Hair of the dog

Let’s reflect on the two real lessons of the Battle of Newtown.

First, the Second Amendment is not about hunting animals and punching paper, it’s about winning a war against the government, and here we have a man who didn’t whine about tyranny, or run and hide: he took up arms like a Real American, went right at the most dangerous hotbed of government freedom-killing  subversion, a public school, and put a decisive end to the daily internationalist indoctrination of twenty Connecticut children. But Lanza was not able to kill even thirty people before the jackbooted thugs of blue-state Connecticut imposed their tyrannical will on him, another martyr to liberal sabotage of our Second Amendment God-given rights to insurrection. (Those rights are in the Bible, right where Jesus teaches his wussy disciples to go armed at all times, and practice quick reloading so as to really Render unto Caesar, not just mess with the odd drunk Roman soldier.)  The government won the Battle of Newtown in the end, because Lanza was disarmed by the regulations people like Mayor Bloomberg want more of. Government has stuff like tanks and helicopters now, so insurrection (freedom) needs serious hardware.   If Lanza (and his mother) had been allowed the belt-fed machine guns,  grenades, armor-piercing rockets, and ground-to-air artillery the constitution plainly allows but our surrender-monkey disarmers do not, he could have given the UN a real warning.  Patriots need stuff to take down an invisible black helicopter, not toys from an old western movie.

Some, however, may not see Lanza’s intervention exactly as a blow for freedom but in a slightly different light, perhaps as an insane explosion of savagery.  Never mind:  just turn the page to the other lesson, the one about the importance of arming everyone all the time to prevent mayhem. Everyone, even the principal, went to work without so much as a little .25 caliber automatic, never mind the Uzi, slung dashingly over the shoulder for easy use, that should be a part of every responsible teacher’s equipment.  (I myself have nothing but chalk on my sleeve to maintain order in the classroom, and that Uzi would be a real asset to my pedagogy.)

But what about the kids, Professor Volokh?  A safe society is one where everyone packs heat all the time: wouldn’t it build character for for citizens to learn their responsibility early on? There’s no problem finding a firearm for small hands: if every one of them had had a piece in his desk, and opened up on Lanza from all directions right away, only a few more would be dead now, maybe even fewer, and the survivors would have learned about pride and self-sufficiency instead of fear and surrender. We have fire drills; don’t we care enough about our kids to give them rapid-fire drills? And come to think of it, kindergarten is not too young to learn freedom through armed revolt (see lesson one above): what more oppressive, authoritarian institution is there than a school to its students?  K-12 students with suitable weapons could be learning to fight tyranny before the school crushes their spirit and turns them into slaves of big government.

The correct ideological exegesis of this event is above my pay grade; indeed both of the foregoing may be correct.  Either way the action implication is clear, as clear as those eternal and unvarying truths “Now this”, “Here we are”, and “Cut taxes on the rich”:  we need lots more, bigger firearms everywhere, and now more than ever. If freedom fighters like Lanza, and ordinary citizens like the innocent teachers and kindergartners at risk from murderous lunatics like Lanza, all get the serious weaponry they deserve, some good may come of this sad episode.

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.

42 thoughts on “Hair of the dog”

  1. I don’t want a gun even if it’s supposed to make me safer. And I’m a 70 y-o white Democrat living in the Florida Panhandle.

  2. Prof. O’Hare’s post is a great example of exactly what’s wrong with most gun control advocacy – it’s not actually about reality at all.

    1. I’m seeing a lot of this kind of thing since the Newtown massacre. Gun-rights absolutists adopt this pose of being above the fray. They sit, as if on high, and declare this or that to be “sad” or “predictable” or “unacceptable” but seem to be otherwise incapable of engaging.

      It could be that the movement isn’t as strong as it appears. Concern-trolling is a tool of the weak.

    2. If you want reality, read this article about Australia’s response: “After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Similar Massacre Since”

      “At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic
      shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The
      country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually
      registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for
      needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.)”

      “homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006 , with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks . Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase , contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.”

  3. The NRA was not represented on the Sunday shows I tuned into (ABC and NBC), and David Gregory said that they had invited 31 pro-gun Senators to appear but none accepted. Very interesting. These guys are on the defensive right now.

    There are opportunities to compare and contrast which could be instructive. Inside Israel, a huge part of the citizenry packs heat; firearms are almost as ubiquitous there as cell phones are here. Homicide among citizens is rare there compared to here. What are the differences that make the difference? Several answers spring easily to mind, but just because they come easily, does not make them right. Israelis may see themselves as more connected to one another than Americans, where it is every man for himself. Someone who visits this blog no doubt has some depth of information and insight regarding this contrast. Israel seems to have no shortage of lunatics, but perhaps their brand of lunacy is more communal and less alienated than ours. Anyone out there have some analysis to enlighten us with?

    1. No need to go as far as Israel for an example of an armed society.

      The Swiss require that each adult male (this is Switzerland) keep a government supplied gun in his house. Long gun or pistol, depending on reserve rank.

      Ed Whitney does raise a good point. Is the U.S. especially prone to mass murder insanity (apparently, yes) and why. Any explanation should also explain the recent Norwegian tragedy.

      1. You are not quite right on Switzerland. It´s not adult males,it´s reservists. If you didn´t serve, you don´t get a gun. Second, keeping the weapon you were issued with when you served at home afterward is encouraged but not required. Third, since 2008 it´s been illegal to keep ammunition at home. So the gun is symbolic rather than usable.

          1. Israelis do not “pack heat.” It’s common to see soldiers with weapons in public places. But ordinary civilian Israelis do not own handguns or rifles:

            “Anyone who [can show a need for a weapon], is over age 21 and an Israeli resident for more than three years, must go through a mental and physical health exam, Amit said, then pass shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range, as well as background checks by the Public Security Ministry.

            “Once they order their firearm from a gun store, they are allowed to take it home with a one-time supply of 50 bullets, which Amit said they cannot renew.

            “The gun owner must retake his license exam and testing at the gun range every three years. As of January, Amit said, a new law will go into effect requiring gun owners to prove that they have a safe at home to keep their weapon in.

            “Amit said that since 1996, not long after the Rabin assassination, there has been a continuous reduction in the amount of weapons in public hands due larger to stricter regulations. He estimated there are about 170,000 privately-owned firearms in Israel, or enough for around one out of every 50 Israelis, far less per capita than the US, where there are an estimated more than 300 million privately owned guns for a population of a little more than 300 million.”


  4. Every once in a while I mosey on down to Volokh’s site on the theory that I should read things that I don’t think I’ll agree with, to challenge myself and make sure I don’t suffer the skewered world view that comes from remaining in an echo chamber. It’s one small attempt to keep myself intellectually honest.

    I always get there through this site’s blogroll. I took it as a sign of approval that it was listed here.

    But I don’t think I’ll ever be back to visit Eugene.

  5. I stand with the NRA and its partners in the Republican party, in honoring our Second Amendment right to bear arms. It is what keeps tyranny from our door, it is the price of freedom. We must not jump to any hasty conclusions which will endanger our freedom.

    The Second Amendment to our Bill of Rights is vital to our nation, and we must never begrudge its cost; not even twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High. A well regulated militia, being necessary (more so than 32 dead at Virginia Tech) to the security of a free state, the right of the people (at least the survivors, such as Rep. Gabby Giffords) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. “They” (except for twelve dead at the cinema in Aurora, CO) can take my gun when “they” (minus six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin) pry it from my cold (like the thirteen victims at Fort Hood), dead hand.

    Thus illuminated, President Kennedy’s blood-spattered limousine was an invoice for freedom. Yet another witness to the liberty for which, we are told, people hate us, was Bobby Kennedy’s bloodied, blank stare as a busboy cradled his head. The throat from which rang out the soaring rhetoric of “I have a dream…”, pierced by a rifle round, was another installment made. Freedom is so very precious, the shattered wire rim glasses and corpse of John Lennon was but one more coupon in the payment book.

    Now, our safety, our security, our preparedness to fight a despotic government, our very liberties, are vouchsafed once more by twenty small pairs of cold dead hands. Thank you, little patriots; we salute you. There is nothing more that a free people can, or should do.

    1. “What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of schoolteachers and children. It is its natural manure.”
      — Thomas Jefferson

  6. You raise good points here. If the parents of these dead children were True Americans, they’d be celebrating the fact that their children died protecting our freedoms by watering the tree of liberty with their own blood.

    We should all be willing to do the same ourselves, because guns.

    1. The Westboro Baptist Church is celebrating the deaths of the children, and may be on their way to Newtown to show their approval of the massacre. The reason, though, is that it shows that God hates America for not killing all fags, whom He hates. So at least some people are happy about the slaughter.

      If they travel to Connecticut to picket the funerals, perhaps their vehicle will hit a patch of ice on the road and send them hurtling to their reward.

      1. I hope you are still kidding in character. Even those A holes couldn’t stoop that low. Could they?

        1. Of course they could. That’s what they do; it’s their entire MO. And it got them mentioned here, and will get them mentioned in other media as well. any press, right?

      2. I think they often try to grab attention by threatening this type of thing and then never actually carry it out. As for ice, it’s becoming rarer and rarer, or hadn’t you heard? You’ll have to imagine some other road hazard.

        1. “You’ll have to imagine some other road hazard.”

          You ever tried I-84 from Brewster to Danbury?

  7. Since the NRA is in hiding I think it only fair to make their stock argument for them:
    If only Lanza’s mother had had a gun in the house this could have ended very differently.

    1. And the criminal mastermind Adam Lanza was probably going to go to any length to get guns, anyway, so we might as well leave several of them close at hand.

  8. I wonder what our readers who fear that Michael is a little injudicious here would think of Garry Wills:

    I have often thought that we should raise a statue of Heston at each of the many sites of multiple murders around our land. We would soon have armies of statues, whole droves of Heston acolytes standing sentry at the shrines of Moloch dotting the landscape.

    1. The link leads to “page not found”.
      I am guessing the “statue of Heston” to be Charlton Heston with his Winchester raised in defiance at the podium of the NRA. And what a glorious crack pot he was.

  9. Volokh should practice what he preaches. The next time he goes to a gathering of right bloggers he should insist on everyone being armed. I volunteer to to pipe in a voice yelling “GUN!” followed by the sound of a pistol being fired. I’m sure hilarity would ensue!

      1. Since I don’t know you, I will give a polite non-sarcastic answer to your query, which may have been polite and non-sarcastic, or maybe not:

        No, I don’t have a sign. Don’t need a sign. I have a “no guns in this house” rule, which is enforced politely and consistently.

        Also, I don’t need any guns, and I don’t own any. My son, OTOH, is an avid hunter. He has several guns, which he keeps in a sturdy gun safe at his office, safe from his children at home.

  10. Why stop there? Everybody seems to think that one solution will take care of the problem. I’ve always maintained that violence in the media = violence in society. Perhaps we should also review the 1st Ad in regards to the trash we see on tv, hear on the radio, watch on gaming systems, not to mention the wonderful world of the internet. Did the Founding Fathers envision any of that as well? We raise kids who listen to “music” in which the lyrics describe the beating of women, then wonder why they act like animals. There is a seriously huge problem in America today, not just in the things we place in our hands but also the things we put in our heads. That some would defend the irresponsibility in today’s medias only leads me to believe the gun-control argument is equally insincere.

    1. Why do other countries, which consume violent media in similar volume, not have the same problems we do?

      1. You must live in an alter-reality than the rest of us, because these things DO happen in other countries. Where have you been?

        March 13, 1996
        Dunblane, Scotland 16 children and one teacher killed at Dunblane Primary School by Thomas Hamilton, who then killed himself. 10 others wounded in attack.

        March 1997
        Sanaa, Yemen Eight people (six students and two others) at two schools killed by Mohammad Ahman al-Naziri.

        April 28, 1999
        Taber, Alberta, Canada One student killed, one wounded at W. R. Myers High School in first fatal high school shooting in Canada in 20 years. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy, had dropped out of school after he was severely ostracized by his classmates.

        Dec. 7, 1999
        Veghel, Netherlands One teacher and three students wounded by a 17-year-old student.

        March 2000
        Branneburg, Germany One teacher killed by a 15-year-old student, who then shot himself. The shooter has been in a coma ever since.

        Feb. 19, 2002
        Freising, Germany Two killed in Eching by a man at the factory from which he had been fired; he then traveled to Freising and killed the headmaster of the technical school from which he had been expelled. He also wounded another teacher before killing himself.

        April 26, 2002
        Erfurt, Germany 13 teachers, two students, and one policeman killed, ten wounded by Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, at the Johann Gutenberg secondary school. Steinhaeuser then killed himself.

        April 29, 2002
        Vlasenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina One teacher killed, one wounded by Dragoslav Petkovic, 17, who then killed himself.

        Sept. 28, 2004
        Carmen de Patagones, Argentina Three students killed and 6 wounded by a 15-year-old Argentininan student in a town 620 miles south of Buenos Aires.

        Sept. 13, 2006
        Montreal, Canada Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon at Dawson College. Anastasia De Sousa, 18, died and more than a dozen students and faculty were wounded before Gill killed himself.

        Nov. 7, 2007
        Tuusula, Finland An 18-year-old student in southern Finland shot and killed five boys, two girls, and the female principal at Jokela High School. At least 10 others were injured. The gunman shot himself and died from his wounds in the hospital.

        Sept. 23, 2008
        Kauhajoki, Finland A 20-year-old male student shot and killed at least nine students and himself at a vocational college in Kauhajok, 330km (205 miles) north of the capital, Helsinki.

        March 11, 2009
        Winnenden, Germany Fifteen people were shot and killed at Albertville Technical High School in southwestern Germany by a 17-year-old boy who attended the same school.

        April 30, 2009
        Azerbaijan, Baku A Georgian citizen of Azerbaijani descent killed 12 students and staff at Azerbaijan State Oil Academy. Several others were wounded.

        April 7, 2011
        Rio de Janeiro, Brazil A 23-year-old former student returned to his public elementary school in Rio de Janeiro and began firing, killing 12 children and seriously wounding more than a dozen others, before shooting himself in the head. While Brazil has seen gang-related violence in urban areas, this was the worst school shooting the country has ever seen.

        July 22, 2011
        Tyrifjorden, Buskerud, Norway A gunman disguised as a policeman opened fire at a camp for young political activists on the island of Utoya. The gunman kills 68 campers, including personal friends of Prime Minister Stoltenberg. Police arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian who had been been linked to an anti-Islamic group.

        March 19, 2012
        Toulouse, France Mohammed Merah, a French man of Algerian descent, shot and killed a rabbi, two of his children, and another child at a Jewish school. Police believe he had earlier shot and killed three paratroopers. Merah said he was a member of Al Qaeda and that he was seeking revenge for the killing of Palestinian children.

        I won’t even begin to write about the past 5 years of fatal stabbing taking place in China in their schools, that would take up pages. Point being, all these countries have strict gun laws. These things should not have happened if guns were the sole motive. There is something else going on on top of that, and we are ignoring it. I would contend we must do something about the violence in pop culture which many are defending as “art”.

        1. The point is not whether these killings ever happen in places with strict gun laws. It’s how frequently they happen and how many people die when they do happen. If you keep the same media content but substitute knives for guns, the body count will be much lower.

          1. here’s some information i’ve compiled from the national violent death reporting system for the years 2005-2009. i filtered out all violent deaths except those due to homicide, to suicide, or to homicide followed by suicide to restrict my search to intentional killings. the percentage of intentional killings in each of those years which were due to firearms, due to sharp instruments, and due to blunt objects–






            with 5 year averages of:

            indicating that over that five year period one would be 16.5 times more likely to be intentionally killed by a firearm than intentionally beaten to death, 9.7 times as likely to be intentionally killed by a firearm than to be intentionally stabbed or cut to death, and 1.3 times more likely to be killed with a firearm to be intentionally killed by all other means put together.

            i admit that the data is from 16 states with a population of 80 million people and may not be representative of the nation as a whole but it does seem to suggest that gun related violent deaths are the elephant in the room and it would be silly to try to minimize that. i would also mention that the reason i’ve ferreted out the stats for sharp and blunt objects is that some of those here arguing strongly against additional gun regulation keep pointing to knives and hammers as suitable replacements for guns if guns were somehow restricted. freeman in particular keeps pointing to a 2007 volume,”mass murder in the united states: a history” by grant duwe, which compiles mass killings in the u.s. for the years 1900-1999 and concludes that guns weren’t used in the most deadly mass killings of the 20th century (explosives and arson takes top honors on that score) and that knives and blunt objects and bare hands taken together account for only slightly fewer deaths per incident than guns do (4.52 deaths per incident compared to 4.92 per incident for guns). i went by my library today and i’ve ordered it through the interlibrary loan system so i can get a clearer idea of the work and it’s sources.

        2. There is a coarsening of life which might reasonably be laid at the game culture where to a large extent consequence is divorced from action and where the gentler and more civil way of life is absent. To take the UK’s soap operas as an example, the general conversation between characters is conducted at the top of their voices and with ill temper and bad grace and I think this does map over into general culture

          The point might be worth making is that in most of the countries cited, following the outrages, government took action to restrict the availability of guns and to control their ownership. None were perfect and none were totally effective but unlike the USA governments acted to protect their citizens and for my country, the number of deaths from firearms is low; it’s not say we’re perfect far from it but recourse to a gun at a moment of tension is largely absent and this is reflected in the statistics. In the USA, by contrast as I understand it, controls have been weakened and removed. It’s your country and your choice but I would rather live in any country where there is no talk of arming teachers to guard against massacres.

        3. Dunblane led to changes in the UK gun laws, and the UK has not had a second Dunblane. is brief but to the point.

          This UK school shooting in 1996 was brought up over the weekend by George Will to make the point that such shootings happen anyway; no one on that panel challenged him by pointing out that changes in the gun laws were followed by no further school massacres.

          1. I’m reading this a day late, so my comment will be lost in the cosmic wind, but I feel compelled to write it anyway:

            George Will used to be a smart fellow. Had to be, y’know, to have written Men At Work, then follow it with Bunts.

            But I think he may have been abducted by aliens, who sucked out most of his brain then put him back on Earth. There’s no other obvious explanation for having said this, which is EXACTLY the same as saying “Even with all those regulations, Three Mile Island happened anyway, so there’s no use in having the NRC and all its burdensome rules.”

    2. If you really think that the tidal wave of blood released by gun-toting patriots and insane citizens in the US is due to liberal _television programs_, and not to the ready availability of military-grade hardware (and the cult of enablers that fetishizes the packing of heat), then there’s no point in engaging with you in conversation.

      Our country- and its gun nuts- is so murderous that I actually thought your list to be an exhaustive catalog of _US_ gun massacres for the single year 2012, not a compendium of _the entire rest of the world_ for a _fifteen year period_.

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