Two good guys with guns

didn’t do well against bad guys with guns, even though they were not only trained but apparently alerted to being targets.  I continue to be totally mystified at the idea that just packing heat will let you get the drop on someone who means harm to you and can pick his time and place. McLelland was in pajamas at home; of course his piece was no more than a few steps away, or maybe in the next room…would he and his wife be OK if only that piece had been a full-auto machine gun?

This terrible episode may be cheering up some of the lunatics who think their guns are for fighting their government, but it sure doesn’t help the home protection side of the debate.

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.

47 thoughts on “Two good guys with guns”

  1. I find your argument exactly as persuasive as a gun-nut pointing to a situation in which a weapon was used effectively for home defense. Even the part where you are trying to score rhetorical points may be flawed… if rounds were fired at all by the good guys, then a more devastating firearm might actually have made a difference. Many home defenders have failed because they were using a pistol but would have succeeded if they had an automatic shotgun. Targeted assassination by organized criminals is probably not analogous to the more common home-invasion or robbery situation. Both sides of this debate can find specific instances that support their position. The truth of this matter should be determined by a review of carefully gathered statistics, not by a review of cherry-picked anecdotes.

    1. Your comment assumes the existence of a “common home-invasion” and of “many home defenders” – indeed, more than “many”, as many of them have “failed” because they found themselves disastrously undergunned, and in need of the firepower to rapidly wound or kill dozens of enemies. Color me massively skeptical that this extended dark fantasy reflects anything more than the paranoid culture in which gun worshipers are ritually marinated.

      1. I understand your interpretive frame here, but it is way off the mark. I wrote “more common” not “common”, which you clearly missed, because certainly you are not so stupid as to believe that targeted assassinations by organized criminals are more common than are robberies and home invasions (I don’t mean this sarcastically, I have read many of your comments on this site and you are clearly not stupid). I can see how you got angry at the outgunned bit, but I did not mean many in the sense of some noticeable percentage of all home-defense attempts. I meant many as in, well, more than say 10 total in history. You might counter-argue that this weak use of the word many makes my comment a throw-away comment, but what I was getting at was that counter-examples certainly will exist and so the temptation to go for rhetorical points about weapon potency being irrelevant is not a winning tactic. It is simply absurd to say that someone attempting to defend their home from an armed person would NOT be better served by having a more dangerous weapon at hand. Sometimes it won’t matter, but if both sides actually fire their weapons, it actually will often matter. Period.

        I believe the second amendment should be removed by amendment, and if allowed to stand it should not be interpreted the way it is currently. I am on your side. What I am not is so emotionally committed that I will say something which does not make any sense. I hate guns, they scare the living bejesus out of me. I have, however, practiced with them many many times because at one point I was interested in a career in Law Enforcement. Even at fairly close ranges, pistols are very difficult to use even when you are not in fear for your life. Rifles and Shotguns are not difficult to use at all. These things are true whether or not you hate guns or the American myth of rugged male individualism. I understand that you and Mr. O’Hare are pissed, but I promise you right here and now that you will NEVER match a gun-nut in terms of emotional intensity. The winning approach has to be based on statistics, not anecdotes and snark.

        1. The question isn’t which weapon will best repel a home invasion; it’s whether home invasions nearly ever happen, and whether they are ever repelled by an armed defender. It’s also about the effects on society of distributing enough guns widely and easily enough so that every concerned law-abiding homeowner can easily have a few – some of those effects effects include an enormous rate of gun accidents, gun-enabled escalations of nonfatal arguments, and of course a plethora of guns in the hands of violent criminals.

          Back in the real world, even as we’re warned of home invasions, against which you’ll need a massive overkill of easily deployed lethal firepower (as opposed to, say, a telephone, an air horn, and maybe a dye bomb), what happens with terrifying frequency is more like this story:

          When he left the party about 2 a.m., Caleb needed to sneak home. His friends dropped him off and helped hoist him through a back window. But Caleb had been drinking and had gone to the wrong house. The brick homes on his street are similar, and Caleb was two doors down from his own.
          The homeowner heard his burglar alarm sound, grabbed his gun and went to investigate. When the two met on the stairs inside the house, the man said he told the teen to leave and fired a warning shot, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.
          Caleb didn’t stop, and the home-owner fired again, striking and killing the teen, the official said.

          If we assume every word from the homeowner was true, and his story is plausible, then we have: a drunk, confused kid, thinking he was in his own home, failed to properly interpret and respond to a warning shot in time to placate the terrified homeowner – and note that the teenager may well have thought he had been shot at by a burglar or home invader. The teenager wound up dead, killed by a terrified homeowner with easy recourse to an instrument of almost casual human death. The boy’s family and friends are in terrible pain, and the homeowner must live the rest of his life knowing he unnecessarily took a human life – all because our society tells homeowners they must live in fear of, and arm themselves against, ruthless home invaders, and gives them access to almost ludicrously efficient machines of human death for the purpose.
          And, yes, you conjure these “home invasion” bogeymen too. You write of “someone attempting to defend their home from an armed person” as if that’s something that happens with any frequency – and as if the wisest response our society can suggest to such a hypothetical armed invasion is to confront and attempt to out-kill the invaders, rather than alarms and perhaps flight. Perhaps this was true in the Dakota Territories of the 19th century, and it might even still be true in the hollows of Kentucky. If you’ve got streetlights, not so much.

          1. Student says we need “carefully compiled statistics, not… cherry picked anecdotes,” but it’s worth noting that the NRA has been lobbying against the gathering of any such statistics with remarkable success.

            Now, I don’t know how carefully gathered the statistics were, but I used to go shooting with a prodigious pistolero who liked to quote a study of police statistics which supposedly showed that 90 percent of gunfights take place at range of less than ten feet and are won by the person who fires the first shot. My friend didn’t think his proficiency would count for much in a real fight, because he was never looking to shoot someone.

            I’m with Warren Terra here. The gun cultist is arrested in some (ususally racist) adolescent fanstasy wherein, given just enough warning, he leaps into action and blows away the threat thanks to his lethal preparedness. This has nothing to do the reality. DEA perhaps aside, armed people are not coming to the homes of random average citizens to take their stuff or do them harm. If armed people are coming after you at home, (or anywhere for that matter) they’re not likely to strike when you have your beloved Glock or Bushmaster at hand. It ain’t TV fellas. Once they have you in their sights, nobody can draw fast enough to save himself.

          2. I still think you are missing what I am saying. I did not even imply that home invasions are common, merely that they are more common than targeted assassination, and I included robbery, which is actually fairly common. I live in an extremely upscale neighborhood, and there have been 6 home-invasions here in the last decade (my neighborhood was unlucky to have a crew of lunatics working it for a few years). We have had 0 targeted assassinations for decades. How many people here have been mugged before? I believe I remember Mark Kleiman saying that he was mugged, both of my parents have been mugged. How many people have had their houses burgled before? No I am not saying that its best to have everyone ready to shoot a burglar to death, yes accident and tragedy are very likely outcomes of having an armed populace. I still maintain that using a targeted assassination as an anti-gun argument is silly. Targeted assassinations are by far the rarest of all the crimes we have mentioned. Nothing in what I wrote implied that an armed populace is the best response to crime, I am simply trying to point out that this case is a bad example to use from an anti-gun perspective.

          3. The case you pointed out is a much better one Warren. Guns can easily turn good intentions into horrible outcomes. I can give another example from my own life in the same line. I was walking out of a grocery store with my girlfriend and younger brother. We were walking along the wall of the store towards our car, very close to the wall. I became alarmed when I noticed two men walking directly towards us on an obvious interception course. There was no where else for them to be going, because if they walked past us in that line they would have walked directly into the wall we were walking along. Both of them were dressed in a kind of scary way and looking at both of them in the face, I became immediately convinced that they were men of violence with aggressive intent. I don’t know exactly how I knew this, its just something you learn from going to public school in Los Angeles. I was right about them. If I had a gun on me, I certainly would have drawn it, I was terrified for myself and especially my young brother and girlfriend. The best I could do under the circumstances was reach into a shopping bag I was carrying and take hold of a whine bottle. When they had drawn extremely close to us, well within the distance that one is supposed to use a firearm if one is going to use one (which is 20 ft) they both reached into their jackets… and pulled out LAPD badges. Turned out they were from the vice squad and they thought I might be buying liquor for my young brother. Thank god I didn’t have a gun. If I had, it would have taken a miracle to prevent the death or injury of myself, my brother, my girlfriend, and the officers. I still think they fucked up royally by not identifying themselves until they had drawn that close, I think it was pretty unprofessional in a country with people who have CCWs.

          4. It happened in my peaceful, low-crime neighborhood a few years ago. I don’t think the homeowner was killed, but she was tied up and robbed at gunpoint. Had she had a gun and been able to reach it and fire it, who knows how differently the scenario would have played out? I don’t think home invasions are common, but I don’t think they’re vanishingly rare, and I fear they might increase if their perpetrators could be reasonably sure their victim would be unarmed. In the case I mention, I believe the perpetrator was known to the victim, so perhaps he knew (or was reasonably certain) that she was unarmed.

    2. Oh come on, we’d love to hear some cherry-picked anecdotes about home defenses (by more or less law-abiding citizens) that failed because they were using a pistol but would have succeeded if they had had an automatic shotgun. Because, frankly,I kind of doubt you can even come up with one example.

      1. Seriously? Any situation in which any law-abiding citizen carried a pistol, was able to fire shots at a criminal who was firing at him, and missed. Every one of those situations that has ever occurred is such a situation. Of course, carrying an automatic shotgun is impractical and if everyone had one bad neighborhoods would run red with the blood of dead cops and we would have tons of extra collateral damage etc. I am trying to point out that gun-nuts love these sorts of hypotheticals and have found every single story available in which a 16 year old at home with access to his father’s AR shot and killed 3 home-invaders. I am saying that playing the anecdote and hypothetical game with gun-nuts is a mistake.

      2. For every firearm accident they plug their ears and say better training at a younger age, the NRA in every classroom! For every failed attempt in which the homeowner missed, they plug their ears and say better training at a younger age, the NRA in every classroom! For every successful attempt by a homeowner on an actual criminal, they praise the training and familiarity of the person with the firearm.

    3. The general problem is that outside of Hollywood movies guns do not know right from wrong. On average, and all else being equal, the good guys will win 50% of the time. If you seek a confrontation, there’s a good chance that you will lose, and if guns are involved, there’s a substantial chance that you will end up in the hospital or the morgue. Worse, chances are that all else is not equal and that you’re not on equal footing with the criminals in question. The criminals will have chosen the time and place for their crime in a way that favors them, not you.

      Personal safety is much about avoiding becoming a victim; this includes avoiding confrontations wherever possible, and to physically engage a criminal only when you have no other options left.

      Obviously, this specific case is different in that somebody was actually out to kill the DAs in question. In that case, having a gun available for self-defense is still better than nothing. Still, your odds of surviving against a professional killer specifically out to get you are probably even worse and the gun is probably only little better than a placebo (which is why witness protection programs revolve around relocation and identity change, not arming the witnesses). A reasonable public policy response in the long term would be to reduce the size of the black market; in particular, traceability of guns can potentially serve as a deterrent or impediment for criminals.

      1. I do not believe that your idea of reducing the size of the black market would help here. Even if there were only 200k guns in America, down from whatever it is now (350 million?) the one person who would still find a way to obtain one and destroy it afterwards would be a professional hitman working for the AB. Reducing the size of the black market and taking guns out of homes would probably put an effective stop to gang gun violence and gun accidents. This case still would have gone down the same way.

        1. By decreasing the size of the black market, we would increase both the opportunity cost and the economic cost of acquiring untraceable guns (basic law of supply and demand). Criminals do not have infinite resources anymore than non-criminals, so the increased scarcity of untraceable guns constitutes an impediment to acquiring them. This will not be an absolute impediment, but it would increase the risk/reward ratio and thus should affect the likelihood of guns being used for crimes, or a crime being cost-effective. Furthermore, even where it isn’t an unsurmountable obstacle, more perpetrators are going to get tripped up during the acquisition process and/or leave evidence if it is more difficult to acquire a gun illegally.

      2. “A reasonable public policy response in the long term would be to reduce the size of the black market; in particular, traceability of guns can potentially serve as a deterrent or impediment for criminals.”

        You’re going to make firearms as unavailable to criminals as, say, pot? Oh, I bet that has every criminal scared.

        Anyway, “reducing the size of the black market” isn’t a policy, it’s the goal of a policy. It really is kind of important not to confuse means and ends.

        1. I’m sure that determined, clever criminals will get around any new laws and a professional assassin may be both, but if the laws affect lazy, dumb criminals that should be good for most of us.

        2. The difference between firearms and marijuana is that while I know of no country that has been able to contain the black market in drugs, several have been successful in containing the black market in firearms.

          A good example is Switzerland, where it is easy to purchase a gun legally, but difficult to acquire one legally. To purchase a gun in Switzerland, you require a “Waffenerwerbsschein” (certificate permitting firearm purchases), which is available to all adults without a criminal record. You will also have to show proof of identity and age. To sell, repair, or modify guns as a commercial dealer, you have to be licensed (which requires passing a test regarding both weapons use and knowledge of the law, plus having suitable premises where you can store firearms safely). You have to also keep records of sales etc. for at least ten years. To sell a gun as a private individual, the sale has to be recorded in a written contract, which has to be kept for a minimum of ten years, and the sale also has to be reported to the authorities. If a gun is lost or stolen, this has to be immediately reported to the police. Gun manufacturers and importers have to mark each firearm that they produce/import with a serial number. Military guns are automatically registered. Similar regulations apply to ammunition. Violations carry a fine (e.g., for not reporting the loss of a gun) and in more serious cases, a prison sentence (e.g. for selling weapons commercially without a permit or violating the regulations regarding keeping records).

          Note that these regulations do not expect criminals to obey the law. They expect regular people to obey the law and create a strong disincentive for contributing to the black market by enforcing responsibility for gun ownership (i.e., if you sell a gun to a potential criminal, it may be traced back to you).

          In practice, this seems to work. The majority of gun-related homicides in Switzerland are committed by their legitimate owners (typically involving cases of domestic violence), and gun-related homicides committed with illegal weapons are few and far between. Overall, 19.6% of all homicides in Switzerland in 2012 were committed using a firearm, as opposed to a rate of 67.7% in the US.

          In 2012, 9.4% of all robberies in Switzerland involved a firearm, as opposed to 41.3% in the US.

          So, yes, the evidence is there that you can substantially reduce the black market even in a country with a strong culture of gun ownership and without a blanket ban on firearms.

          1. Well, the evidence is there that you won’t have much of a black market in the tools of crime in a country with the lowest crime rate in the world. I’d say the evidence is entirely consistent with a black market sufficient to supply criminals’ needs in a country where, for independent reasons, there just aren’t many criminals.

            However, I’m not arguing you can’t do anything about gun crimes, or even about guns possessed by criminals, without attacking lawful ownership. Just that, in this country, there is a major movement devoted to attacking lawful ownership, who initiate/subvert any firearms regulations nominally directed to that end. Lucy, theoretically, could refrain from snatching the football away. That doesn’t mean we have to pretend she’s not planning on it.

            I wrote before that gun owners had just gone through a decades long assault on a basic, constitutionally guaranteed civil liberty, and rightly regard ANY attempt to legislate in this area with profound suspicion. Well, as subsequent events have proven, the assault isn’t over, and the suspicion was perfectly justified.

            Go away, and find some other subject to legislate on.

  2. “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, [or the fight to the armed with a gun,] but that’s how the smart money bets.”

    Seriously, is this what passes for reason? It doesn’t work 100% of the time, so it’s not worth doing?

    Look, do you seriously think the point regarding arming yourself and home invasions is that you’ll always win if you’re armed? Hell, does the flu vaccine guarantee you won’t get the flu?

    While it’s optimal that the home owner win, the idea is to make home invasion risky to the invader, so that they’ll think twice, and home invasions will be less common.

    If arming people against home invasions works, home invasions will be infrequent. Possibly less frequent than mistakes! You might as well use the absence of an influenza epidemic as an argument that vaccination is pointless.

    1. 1) Who said home invasions weren’t already uncommon? How many even happen, and how many are repelled? And compare that number to the butcher’s bill of family members, guests, harmless lost souls, etcetera, who die each year because there’s a gun ready at a moment’s notice to repel this omnipresent looming threat of thuggish home invasion, and also ready for accidental discharges and stupid mistakes?
      2) Flu vaccines are taken by about 1/3 of Americans, and it’s always uncertain whether they’ll be effective against the coming year’s flu variants. Vaccination is an important thing, but influenza is a terrible choice of example for the point you’re trying to make.

      1. Yes, home invasions are already uncommon in the US. And guns are already common, in the US. This is one of those subjects where gun controllers suddenly shy away from international comparisons…

        1. Home invasions are also uncommon here in Canada as are guns. So don’t try and make that link. It isn’t true.

      2. My brother (20 years on the force) says that while they’re not the rarest of crimes, he’s never seen a home invasion where the homeowner wasn’t selling drugs. He’s actually done the research; nationwide this is true for 99% of the cases.

        1. All I would add is that there are most certainly home invasions where the homeowners were NOT selling drugs BUT someone thought they were..or had the wrong address.

    2. Brett: “the idea is to make home invasion risky to the invader, so that they’ll think twice, and home invasions will be less common.”
      Alternatively burglars will have an incentive to be (more heavily) armed and readier to shoot, so home invasions will be more lethal, generally to the householder who can’t be perpetually on the alert. It’s a matter of evidence which effect is stronger.
      I agree with Student that assassinations are a distinct issue, and generally can’t be prevented (see Jack and Robert Kennedy, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi). But Mike is still right that the case does not support the “armed home defence” crowd. No sane person chooses to live their whole life like an SAS trooper with an H & K clipped to his body harness for instant access; and even the nutters who would like to can’t get close to the training that keeps such soldiers alive.

      1. I think you can take this reasoning even further: if it’s a common assumption that homeowners will be armed, or have rapid access to weapons, then the obvious thing for criminals to do is to turn the home-invasion scenario into an assassination scenario.

        1. Or simply be careful to burglarize homes when people are away, avoiding a gun fight instead of trying to win it. Which is what apparently does happen.

          If you’re a burglar, you’re breaking into a lot of homes. A burglar who goes looking for fights isn’t going to have a long career, even if the odds are in his favor every time.

          1. Surely a rational burglar will always try to rob empty houses, with or without guns on either side?
            A not very relevant anecdote: it struck me in Rio, a city with a very rate of drug-driven violent crime ans street robbery, that flats have simple locks. It turns out that burglary is rare, simply because even modest blocks of flats have (unarmed) 24-hour doormen.

          2. From the link, I assume Katja is responding to Brett’s hypotheses, not mine about Rio.

          3. I agree with you James that this case does not support the home-defense crowd, but as far as I know none of them have decided to claim this case as a victory. I think Warren’s case (and mine) do a better job of getting at what can go wrong when firearms are kept for self-defense. Really, if there is anyone we should consider trusting with a gun for self-defense, it would be an attorney who works criminal cases for the government (this case). The fact that it didn’t save his life doesn’t in and of itself mean its a bad idea. Every death of a person wearing a seat belt in an automobile accident “doesn’t help” the public-safety crowd… you might as well point out that the sky is blue.

  3. In 1968, when I was a freshman at the University of Maryland at College Park, the drinking age in Maryland was 21 for all types of alcoholic beverages. However, in the District of Columbia it was 18 for wine and beer. Lane’s Liquors was the first package good liquor store on Route 1, over the line in D.C. It did a brisk business selling to U of MD students. However, it was in a heavy crime area. The owner and all of the employees openly carried handguns in side holsters.

    In 1970 or 1971, a gunman or gunmen came in to hold up Lane’s. He or they immediately killed all of the personnel behind the counter. I remember the episode vividly because (i) I had patronized Lane’s and (ii) the local news station exercised horribly bad judgment by filming and then broadcasting footage of the wife of the owner being told by police that her husband had been shot and killed.

    Not all of the lessons I learned in college were learned in the classroom.

  4. In related news, the fact that JFK was assassinated is a great argument against presidents having a secret service detail…

    1. I should have just written this instead of everything I wrote above, with the added disclaimer that I am actually in favor of gun control. This comment really nailed it.

    2. This case is not a good example for gun control people, or for gun fanatics. It is simply bad for Americans.

      1. McLelland was in pajamas at home; of course his piece was no more than a few steps away, or maybe in the next room…would he and his wife be OK if only that piece had been a full-auto machine gun?

        Perhaps. Bullet-proof pajamas wouldn’t hurt either.

  5. Like so many of the great issues America has confronted the solution to gun violence must be wide ranging, and comprehensive. As the discussion here shows, for every valid point offered, a valid counter point is returned.

    If we had a fantasy commission to study the gun violence problem, divide the altercations into their respective sub-sets, and suggest individual remedies for each, and all without political considerations, then the long, arduous turnaround could begin to show progress.

    Targeted assassinations, and home invasions, are two separate issues, and need to be addressed as such. Jealous rage shootings are distinctly different from hit-man for hire shootings. If we begin the discussion with the question, “How to reduce the epidemic of gun violence?” we are defeated before we start because the question is flawed. The correct framing of the problem should be: Understanding that our gun violence epidemic is comprised of many, uniquely different components, we should study each independently, and offer solutions that target that problem specifically.

    Our “gun problem” is really “our gun problem(s.) And, only when we attack each component individually will we begin a return to sanity for America.

    1. I think the first mistake is that “our”, which causes people to ignore the fact that the problem or problems varies dramatically from one population to another, and thus to propose “solutions” targeting people who aren’t responsible for the problem.

        1. Too funny.

          But, I guess when you live in a fantasy world of your own making you can also interpret my remarks as
          “targeting people who aren’t responsible for the problem.”

          Needs repeating: “Too funny.”

          1. NY-Paul, your post was eminently fair and thoughtful. I hope you learned a valuable lesson here. Without tipping my hand I like to present you with a question to ponder. First a necessary observation: Note that the GOP is now willing to do immigration reform. There are reasons why that dynamic has suddenly changed. Mostly it has to do with having a chance to win the presidency in 2016. And so the party elites have set in motion a new reasonableness regarding immigration. And note too that the GOP base is following the elites lead, albeit reluctantly, but nevertheless, they are following…

            Here is the question:

            What has to happen to have the GOP elites begin to set in motion a similar reasonableness on gun control (?) and begin reining in the unreasonableness of their NRA apes?

          2. Feh, I’m just pointing out another element of the “framing”. It does precious little good to propose laws supposedly aimed at reducing bad conduct, if the people they’re directed at aren’t the people committing that conduct. You don’t want to commit the equivalent of enacting laws to prevent maulings by toy poodles.

            For instance, I keep getting told that we “old white men” are the problem with gun violence, and an absurd amount of effort is being directed at prying our cold dead fingers loose from the guns we bitterly cling to, devoted to erasing our gun culture from the face of the Earth. But the actual stats say the real problem is “young black men”. (Yeah, even the classic white guy crime, “mass shootings”, find young black guys over-represented among the offenders.)

            You can waste an awful lot of political capital if your efforts are misdirected.

          3. OHHHHH so that’s what you meant when you wrote it wasn’t “our” fault! You meant it was the fault of African Americans! Just kidding, I knew exactly what you meant when you wrote it. I think it would serve you to couple your blacks-are-the-gun-problem statement with some sort of plan or desire to, you know, help young black men. Oh right, you want to get the government out of the way of the white entrepreneurs who only want to pay them a decent wage but can’t because of government boondoggles like… medicare and the minimum wage. The world must seem so serenely simple when you look at it that way. I envy you.

            Ironically, the leading theory on the case actually under discussion in this thread is that the Aryan Brotherhood is responsible.

          4. I meant precisely what I said. The details matter, and aggregating disparate groups together is just as much a way of hiding detail, as aggregating disparate areas together, or aggregating across time. You don’t want to throw data away like that, if you’re trying to get at the truth.

            NY-Paul objected to throwing one sort of data away, and thought it was worth pointing out there are other ways of throwing data away.

          5. Reply to Anon:

            What has to happen?

            Let me begin by stating some obvious, or maybe, not so obvious, facts. One is that polls show the American public approves of the Government taking certain measures to reduce gun deaths & injuries, e.g., “Gun Control.”……I.e. Public opinion is on our side.

            Two, is the fact that marketing and salesmanship actually do work, are tools that can promote political goals, and are virtually missing in the Democrat’s arsenal.

            Two obvious examples:

            1. George Bush, the Senior, turned around a huge George Dukakis lead virtually overnight with a single ad, i.e., “Willie Horton.”

            2. The American Public greatly supported inheritance taxes, until one clever little trick was played, i.e., switching the name to, “Death Tax.”

            And, I must ask, hasn’t anyone in the Democratic Leadership noticed that the Republicans, whether in power, or in the minority, by hook or by crook, manage to jam their programs through Congress with relative ease, and leaving the Democrat‘s faces with the expression, “who were those guys?”

            So, I’ll finish this prologue for my answer to your very big question, “what has to happen………….?” by stating that, there is an answer, the goal can be achieved, but, before tactics & strategies can be discussed, we must answer the all important question, “how badly do we want to win this thing?”

  6. (Yeah, even the classic white guy crime, “mass shootings”, find young black guys over-represented among the offenders.)

    This almost certainly requires a citation.

    If you’re using “mass shootings” to mean the same thing that the FBI and the general public does — killings of four or more people at one time by one killer, in a public place — then of the 62 perpetrators profiled here, precisely 8 of them, or 13%, are black men. Their ages, from highest to lowest, are 43,42,41,37,35,34 and 19.

    Only one of those even remotely qualifies as a “young black guy.” It’s equal to 1.6%, which I’m fairly certain is much, much lower than black men’s percentage of the US population. White males, on the other hand, numbered 44, or 70%, far in excess of their 39% share of the US population.

    (In the interest of completeness, one perpetrator was a white woman, one was a Native American male, three were Hispanic males and five were Asian males.)

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