It’s been a very long time since I have written anything and once again I apologize, but I have to sound off on some of the ridiculous rhetoric flying about nowadays. The Newtown massacre is a tragedy and I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for all of the victims, families of victims, friends of victims, and anyone else affected by this mindless loss of life. That being said, I think we should back off from the usual knee-jerk reactions that make everyone feel so good but actually do so very little to actually alleviate the situation.
Even before the dust settled at Sandy Hook political shots were being fired over bows left and right masked by erroneous caveats such as “now isn’t the time to politicize this tragedy we should arm each and every third grader with mini-guns” and “now isn’t the time to politicize this tragedy, but we should ban all assault weapons including any BB gun with a pistol grip or black sling shots or any weapons that begin with the letters AR such as AR-15, AR-10, or Arkansas.” I don’t think either one of those options or the spirit behind either one is really viable.
I really hate to break this to everyone, but the harsh reality is that evil is real and it exists in your neighborhood in some way, shape, or form. Worse than that is this: the only person that can stop it is you. Not your police force, not a school security guard, and certainly not some politician who is guarded by a phalanx of police and secret service equipped with firearms and body armor: just you. But here’s something that is even more frightening: you’re probably too much of a pussy to do it. There are sheep and there are sheepdogs in this world and you fall into one of the two categories by default. There is no middle ground. You may fall into the latter category (especially if you are reading this blog) but statistically most fall into the former. The bottom line is this: given the chance to do the right thing, most people don’t. They automatically assume that others will do the right thing on their behalf often because they think that it is not their responsibility to do so, but more often because they are too cowardly to do so themselves. After all, it’s better to have some guy getting paid slightly more than minimum wage risk his life to guard your kids at school because his life is worth less than yours, right? Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong.
I am no stranger to controversial points of view here and I am certain that I will get a deluge of hate mail because of what I am about to say next but it needs to be said: you are responsible. Every person out there that tries to placate the masses and says that everyone is equal and worthy, you are responsible. Everyone that says that the mentally ill should be treated like everyone else and that institutionalizing people against their will (even though they are nuttier than squirrel turds and more dangerous than a pedophile in a preschool) is wrong, this is your fault. And everyone that ever said that a “gun free zone” was a good idea is more culpable than the shooter himself because they not only allowed these kinds of massacres to happen; they invited them.
I have spent the larger portion of my life providing security of one sort or another. I have worked personal security, force protection, electronic security, and various other brands of security and the one thing that always, always rings true is this: you never advertise your weaknesses. We never told the Soviets that we couldn’t cover a particular sector in missile defense, we never sent a telegram to Hitler telling him that we really didn’t have an invasion force in the north of Britain, and we sure as shit didn’t tell Osama bin Laden that we had no idea where he was for ten years. The most vacuous, drunkest, skankiest sorority girl doesn’t walk down dark alleys screaming about how helpless and weak she is nor does the most helpless 98 pound weakling diamond merchant skip down the streets in the worst parts of town singing about how rich he is and swinging around a bag full of cash with a dollar sign on it: so why do we do the equivalent at schools? Why do we advertise that the weakest points in our society with the most vulnerable members of our society are completely unguarded and bereft of even the most basic defensive tools?
Almost every mass shooting that has occurred in the US has taken place at a “gun free” zone. Ever notice these massacres take place at schools and post offices and never at gun ranges and donut shops? Ever notice that you don’t see massive media coverage when a citizen uses a firearm in self-defense or the defense of others unless there is some kind of controversy about it like the Trevon Martin case? You know why? Because there isn’t a story for the media to prostitute when the bad guys get stopped quickly and permanently by Joe or Josephine armed citizen. They can’t do a poll and ask the man or woman on the street how they feel about some criminal being put down by a law-abiding citizen because they already know: John Q. Public is thrilled about it. He no longer has to worry about that bad guy stalking him or his family. He doesn’t have to worry about a costly trial or paying for a public defender or footing the bill for the lengthy appeals process or paying for the bad guy’s three hots and a cot for the rest of his life sentence because there isn’t going to be a life sentence. And let’s face it: a quick, fair, and final resolution doesn’t sell much advertising time on your local or national news. If you think I am being cynical about that, ask yourself this question: why are the news ghouls still trolling Newtown? The shooting is done. The story is over. The victims are trying to recover and grieve, but the media is still hounding them because they want to make a buck.
But I digress: gun free zones. Most if not all schools are also “drug free zones.” Does that stop drugs from getting into our schools? No. Pretty much every square inch of the US was a drug free zone up until the most recent elections. Did that stop people from smoking pot or snorting coke or injecting heroin? No. Did that stop people from bringing in drugs and selling them or manufacturing them in the US? No. Did prohibition stop people from drinking? Not just no, but hell no. In fact, prohibition led to one of the longest and most violent periods of criminal activity in this country and the only thing it really accomplished was the establishment of the FBI which, by the way, was a huge power grab for the federal government. Prohibition was an abject failure which only led to more of a burden on the common man and more power for the already powerful. Oh, and that “war on drugs?” Yeah, not so successful. In fact, it was also an abject failure and tended to give more power to the powerful without much of a return on investment for the taxpayers. So the bottom line is “[insert demonized product here] free zones” don’t work: they only serve to advertise what law-abiding citizens won’t have in those zones.
Then the problem is those awful assault rifles, right? Wrong again. Number one, they’re not really assault rifles. A true assault rifle will have the capability of firing on burst or full-auto modes. What most people in the US call assault rifles are actually assault-styled rifles that only fire in the semiautomatic mode which means as fast as one can pull the trigger. But what they call it doesn’t even really matter anyway because the hard, cold fact is that they aren’t the problem. If you look at the statistics such as those at the Department of Justice, you will see that “During the offense that brought them to prison, 15% of State inmates and 13% of Federal inmates carried a handgun, and about 2%, a military-style semiautomatic gun.” Two percent. Let that sink in a little. Now chew on this: heart disease is the number one killer in America (accounting for 40% of all US deaths) and smoking exacerbates your chances of having a heart attack. Quitting smoking cuts your chances of having a heart attack in half within a year. “Tobacco smoking, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single-most preventable cause of the death in the United States.” Yet cigarettes are still legal and now people are trying to ban assault rifles? In fact, handguns, knives, and “other weapons” are far more likely to be used to kill somebody than an “assault rifle.” So why ban them?
Because it’s a placebo. Banning “assault rifles” does no real good, makes the government look like it’s doing something, and gives the people a warm fuzzy. It also makes it very easy for a possible, future police state to do what it pleases, when it pleases. Of course, that kind of thing couldn’t happen now because the President doesn’t just have the power to spy on citizens without warrants or detain a citizen without due process or target a citizen for death without trial, right? Well, no; not quite yet. NDAA. Look it up. And there is precedent that the current seated President has killed a US citizen without trial. Don’t get me wrong: the guy wasn’t exactly a Sunday school teacher, but he was a US citizen and as such deserved a trial by jury. Now think about this: if the President declared all “assault rifles” weapons of terror he could, with the powers that he has given himself, declare all owners of such rifles as “terrorists” and that would open the door to myriad violations of human rights let alone Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Of course since I brought that up I will be told that it “can’t happen here” and I will be labeled as some nut job Tea Party zombie prepper revolutionary anarchist militia racist neurotic conspiracy theorist, but I’m not. I’m just a historian and I know that the same thing happened before in other countries in similar situations where other people said “it can’t happen here” but it did and with horrific results. The Holocaust, the Stalinist Purges, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, and the Taliban all happened within the last seventy five years, but somehow people seem to think that all of that is ancient history. Well, unless you look at Iraq and Syria. But that can’t happen here, right?
So we should put armed guards in school, right? Nope. The NRA proposed that and it is a bad idea. The press and the Democrats will tell you that it is a bad idea. Of course, when Bill Clinton asked for $60 million to do the same thing when he was president they somehow thought it was a good idea, but that is neither here nor there. The bottom line is that one cop can’t stop everything. Hell, a bunch of cops can sometimes do harm than good. Remember that group of cops that chased after a lone shooter and gunned him down in NYC (a “gun free zone” by the way)? Well, every victim other than the original victim was shot by the cops. The one, armed sheriff at Columbine? He decided it was a good idea to try to engage one of the shooters with a pistol while he was sixty yards away and firing toward the school. He (predictably) missed every shot. How many of the victims fell to his bullets was never investigated and it may be that he didn’t hit one of them, but as a professional he should have known better: if the shooter has a weapons malfunction (which he did) you close with the target and engage instead of hiding behind a car and firing at a target you will most likely never hit. Cops investigate crimes and go after the bad guys once the damage is already done. Don’t get me wrong: I know that being a cop is often a thankless, shitty job and that they put themselves out there on our behalf every day. That being said, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away. I respect the police but police at schools are not the answer.
But we’ve got to do something about this! Right? Yes, we do. Get rid of those dumb-assed “gun free zones.” When I did electronic security, the biggest deterrent to thieves and home invaders was the alarm company sign. Seriously. Just the thought that a home was secure made the criminals think twice. We had a former sheriff’s deputy that worked with us and he busted a couple of guys that committed a string of break-ins on one road. They didn’t hit every house, though, and he asked them why: they skipped the ones with alarm company signs. It was that simple. They hit the easy targets. They hit the weak targets. They hit the “alarm free zones.” Sound familiar?
Also, give universal firearms training so people respect weapons instead of just automatically fearing them. In Switzerland where there is universal military service and every adult male is in the militia, they keep their full-auto assault rifles and when they go off of active duty they have the option to keep their rifles in semi-auto versions (like what we call “assault rifles” here). Most do. In fact, Switzerland is second only to the US in the western world in gun ownership but with a much, much lower rate of gun crime. In fact, they often don’t keep statistics on gun crime simply because there is so little of it. The big difference us and them? The fact that at least half of the people in the country know how to use a gun, all of them grew up around a gun, and nobody would dare try a massacre like this because the place would be swarming with trained shooters in seconds. Oh, and they don’t seem to have a problem with locking up the mentally unstable and ergo potentially dangerous people. Gun control doesn’t work. If you look at Mexico, which has the toughest gun control laws in the western hemisphere, you will see that disarming good people doesn’t protect them from bad people.
Good people with guns stop bad people with guns every day. Every day. Preventing the law abiding citizens from owning guns, any guns, is not the key to keeping our children safe. The terrible, awful, yet undeniable truth is that we cannot protect our children from each and every threat out there because bad people exist and bad people do bad things. Period. Stopping good people with guns from stopping bad people with guns won’t stop bad people from being bad; it will only stop good people with guns from making bad people with guns into good people with pall bearers.