Call Us All Crazy

So yesterday Wayne LaPierre said, “If it’s crazy to call for armed officers in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy.” Actually, I don’t think the idea is “crazy” as much as it is “stupid.” One, there’s no money to pay for that many trained professionals (using unpaid volunteers would be crazy). And two, the presence of armed security in schools and elsewhere hasn’t stopped mass shootings in the past.

In fact, there was an armed sheriff’s deputy at Columbine High School the day of the shooting. There was an armed citizen in the Clackamas Mall in Oregon during a shooting earlier this month. There was an armed citizen at the Gabby Giffords shooting – and he almost shot the unarmed hero who tackled shooter Jared Loughner. Virtually every university in the county already has its own police force. Virginia Tech had its own SWAT-like team. As James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s former press secretary cum gun control advocate, often notes, he was shot along with the president, despite the fact that they were surrounded by dozens of heavily armed and well-trained Secret Service agents and police.

Regarding the Clackamas Mall shooting, the armed citizen mentioned above was a guy who was legally carrying a concealed firearm, and who saw the shooter. But the armed citizen realized he didn’t have a clean shot and did not fire, but instead took cover in a store. After the armed citizen stood down, the gunman shot and killed himself.

Even so, the gun nutters always include Clackamas Mall on their lists of shooters stopped by an armed citizen, because according to the Right-Wing Legend of Clackamas Mall the sight of someone with a concealed weapon so unnerved the gunman that he shot himself. And then with the next breath they will tell you that mass shootings only happen in “gun-free zones.” Well, somebody’s crazy.

But if you want to talk crazy, what’s crazy is a country in which a corrupt crackpot like LaPierre gets interviewed on national television. What’s crazy is letting gun nuts write gun laws. Wayne LaPierre, on the other hand, is paid very well for what he does. It’s not crazy to appreciate how your bread gets buttered.

A correspondent for The Economist points out that in Sanity World, “strict gun laws” means no guns. He also says,

I would also say, to stick my neck out a bit further, that I find many of the arguments advanced for private gun ownership in America a bit unconvincing, and tinged with a blend of excessive self-confidence and faulty risk perception.

This is a polite way of saying that the guys (and it’s nearly always guys) who sincerely believe they could have stopped some mass shooter if they’d only been there with their guns generally have less sense than a head of lettuce.


Nowadays, however, there are four states that require no permit at all to carry a gun, and 35 states have permissive “shall issue” or “right-to-carry” laws that effectively take the decision of who should carry a weapon out of law enforcement’s hands. These laws say that if an applicant meets minimal criteria — one is not having been convicted of a felony, and another is not having a severe mental illness — officials have no choice about whether to issue a permit.

Some states go even further by expressly allowing guns where they should not be. Nine states now have “carry laws” that permit guns on campuses; eight permit them in bars; five permit them in places of worship. In Utah, holders of permits can now carry concealed guns in elementary schools.

Among the arguments advanced for these irresponsible statutes is the claim that “shall issue” laws have played a major role in reducing violent crime. But the National Research Council has thoroughly discredited this argument for analytical errors. In fact, the legal scholar John Donohue III and others have found that from 1977 to 2006, “shall issue” laws increased aggravated assaults by “roughly 3 to 5 percent each year.”