Category Archives: Crime

Shooting at gun-free, campus-carry-free UCLA

What appears to have been a tragic murder-suicide took place yesterday at UCLA.  Terrible. I can particularly relate, as I myself am involved in academia, am a father, and am only a few years younger than the victim.

As you likely know, California has some of the strictest gun control in the nation, concealed carry permits are rarely issued in Los Angeles, campus carry is strictly forbidden, and UCLA is a gun-free zone. Once again, it turns out that declaring a place to be “gun-free” doesn’t accomplish anything, since bad people doing bad things will simply ignore those policies. Big surprise.

Instead, the whole campus goes into lockdown only to discover that many of the doors don’t actually lock from the inside. Worse, many of the doors open outwards, making it difficult for the students to barricade them: several news reports show students using electrical cords to tie doors to chairs and tables that are bolted to the floor, using belts to secure hydraulic door closers, etc.

While I applaud the ingenuity of the students solving a problem under pressure, the fact that the doors can’t be locked from the inside is absurd.

Next, some minor criticism of the cops and their response. I don’t mean to armchair quarterback, but, to use a biology reference, the response of the cops seems more along the lines of an allergic reaction rather than a beneficial immune system response. Tons of local and federal (federal agents as first responders at a state university? That seems a bit odd to me.) SWATed-up cops swarmed the campus. They did door-to-door checks of rooms on campus to ensure they were secure, but it seems that they failed to announce themselves as police first, to the terror of students and staff in the rooms who only saw unknown heavily-armed men jiggling door handles trying to get into room. When you have overwhelming force, it can’t hurt to be polite and at least announce yourself as police.

When the police make students line up on their knees with their hands on their heads before being searched and allowed to leave may be practical from a safety standpoint, but it presents a chilling, disturbing image that sits very poorly with me.

Anti-gun folks are already using this incident as an example of the risks of campus carry. On the contrary, this is an example of the folly of gun-free zones and the benefits of campus carry.

One of the commonly-expressed concerns about campus carry is that a student upset about a particular topic or grade will threaten or shoot a professor: it’s clear that this can happen regardless of state, local, or campus rules prohibiting guns on campus or in certain areas, let alone laws against assault, threats, murder, etc. It should be evident that such policies serve only to leave ordinary, non-criminal people defenseless in the face of violent criminals.

Still, carrying is not a panacea: it’s certainly possible for a bad guy with the element of surprise to get the drop on someone, but after that things become much harder for the bad guy if they are intent on causing mass casualties  — instead of potential victims hiding helplessly in rooms, they can arm themselves and present a much more effective defense in the event they’re attacked. Why anyone would be opposed to this is beyond me.

Lastly, anti-gun folks often say that “guns don’t belong on campus”, that somehow the presence of concealed firearms carried by “good guys with guns” will upset some campus-specific qi and make the campus more hostile, and that guns won’t solve anything. If guns in the hands of good guys aren’t a good thing or if guns don’t solve anything, why call for armed police in such a situation? Guns are already present on campus — whether lawfully carried by campus police officers for purposes of good, illegally carried by criminals for nefarious purposes, or by honest-but-technically-law-breaking people unwilling to risk their safety by going unarmed — and barring the occasional act of criminal violence, the academic environment seems to handle it just fine.

This incident should be a call for action in support of campus carry and the removal of useless, dangerous gun-free zones. Call your legislator today.

On making things worse

I’ve seen people claim that having an armed citizen engage an active shooter in self-defense would somehow make things worse.
How? Isn’t an active shooter targeting innocent people without resistance already one of the worst things possible?
I don’t get that thought process?at all. Why would someone not want themselves or others to have a fighting chance in?the event of violent attack? I can’t wrap my mind around that thought process at all.
There’s no guarantees that the armed citizen will succeed in stopping the bad guy, but at the very least the bad guy would be distracted and need to respond to the armed citizen, giving others the opportunity to escape, move to a safer location, or fight back.?Sure, the armed citizen may miss and might hit innocent bystanders,?but the same could be said about police, and those people may well have been intentionally shot by the bad guys regardless.

Liability in gun-free zones?

The recent shooting in Oregon got me thinking about liability and gun-free zones.
Our opponents have proposed limiting gun ownership by mandating gun-owners carry liability insurance1.
Why don’t we, the gun-owning community, turn that around and use it to our advantage? For example, a place that’s open to the public (e.g. a university, stadium, shopping mall, theater, government building, etc.) should be partially liable for violent crimes committed on their property unless they have a “secure environment” in which all people are screened for weapons, security is provided, and unauthorized access is prohibited. Simply putting up a sign and calling it a day would no longer be sufficient.
Think of courthouses and airports: they ban guns, but have screening procedures to ensure that unauthorized people are not armed within the property, and police are readily available in case of any incident.
Can’t afford to provide screening and actual secure environments but still want to disarm law-abiding people? Then you should bear some responsibility in the event that people are victimized on your property. Don’t want to do that either? Easy: let people have the means of protecting themselves.
Naturally, private locations (e.g. homes, private businesses not serving walk-in customers, etc.) would not have such requirements.
Thoughts?

  1. Somehow they ignore existing renters/homeowners policies that cover accidental injury or death, including those involving guns, and which are typically quite affordable, and think that “gun insurance” would be prohibitively expensive. []

NPR finally notices New Yorkers are ignoring the SAFE act

After New York implemented the SAFE act there’s been incredibly low levels of compliance: people aren’t registering firearms the law says they must — only 45,000 have been registered. Although this has been fairly widely known in the gun community, NPR finally noticed.
Interestingly, they didn’t just interview the anti-gun groups, but actually interviewed regular people:

“I just don’t see there’s any need to [register my guns -AZR],” says Joseph Fuller of Cohoes, N.Y. Fuller says he owns several guns, including at least one that he’s required to register under the SAFE Act. But he hasn’t.
“I don’t pay attention, to be honest,” says Fuller. “I have friends out in the boondocks. They won’t register their guns either. And they told me … don’t even bother. Don’t worry about it.”

They also interviewed the NYSRPA:

“[The SAFE Act] still may be law, but the people of New York state have repealed it on their own,” says Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. “They’re just ignoring the law.”

Upstate sheriffs don’t seem to care:

“When I prioritize what I need to do as a sheriff, the SAFE Act comes in at the bottom of that list,” says Christopher Moss, the sheriff in Chemung County, a rural area near the Pennsylvania border. “I do look at it personally as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.”

Leah Barrett with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is a sad panda, but tries to spin things positively:

“I think 45,000 is a lot of assault weapons. I think it’s evidence of how long overdue this law is,” says Leah Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. Barrett points out that multiple public opinion polls ? including one commissioned by her group ? show that 60 percent of New Yorkers support the SAFE Act.
“They support the background check requirement. They support the state’s ban on military-style assault weapons. They even support the background checks on ammunition sales,” says Barrett, “because they know that these are entirely reasonable.”

No surprise: her definition of “reasonable” differs completely from my own.
The comments are filled with people saying “Hurr, durr. I thought [pro-gun rights people] always said ‘enforce existing laws’, but now they’re opposing the enforcement of this law.” and “So much for ‘law-abiding gun owner’.” Funny how it’s “civil disobedience” when people break the law to support something they like, but how it’s “let’s track down and arrest those felonious, cousin-humping rednecks” when people are breaking the law to support something they don’t like.

Obama says failure on gun laws makes him “most frustrated”

The President recently had an interview with the BBC. During the interview, the journalist asked what “unfinished business” he would likely have before leaving the White House, specifically inquiring about “race” and “guns”.
Mr. Obama replied with,

You mentioned the issue of guns, that is an area where if you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.
And you know, if you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands. And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18 months.

Sorry to disappoint, but our rights are not up for a vote.
Perhaps his efforts would be better served working on ideas that might actually reduce crime and violence, rather than do-nothing, “common sense” proposals that miss the point entirely and infringe on the rights of ordinary, honest people.

Spin and the NRA legal challenges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recently passed a law that allows membership groups (read: the NRA), including those without legal standing (that is, they haven’t been directly harmed by a law), to sue cities that have enacted gun laws that violate the state preemption laws. If they win, the plaintiff would be entitled to attorneys fees.
It’s no surprise that clueless anti-freedom people such as Elanor Clift (who recently penned this missive) try to spin this situation as horrible and the NRA as some sort of soulless monster intent on stripping “common sense gun laws” from poor, helpless cities.
For example1,

Ed Foley, the mayor of Jenkintown, a borough in the Philadelphia suburbs, told the Daily Beast that the NRA forced him ?to choose between public safety and financial solvency.? […] Under the threat of a lawsuit brought by the NRA, an ordinance in place since 2010 requiring Jenkintown residents to report lost or stolen firearms at the police station was rescinded in a public meeting. ?It was a hold-your-nose vote,? says Foley. ?It?s such an innocuous law, and it doesn?t do anything to restrict anybody?s right to have a gun. I don?t know why the NRA isn?t a bigger supporter of the police. The police want the law.?

Naturally, they focus on how reasonable and “innocuous” that law is, and that the “police want the law”. Who could argue with something as sensible as requiring that someone who had their gun stolen report that theft to the police?
Indeed, I agree — in principle — that such laws are not an undue burden on honest gun owners, subject to certain conditions. I do, however, think that they’re useless: honest people would report their stolen property to the police anyway and seek reimbursement from their insurance company. Straw purchasers, who the law is seemingly aimed at, probably wouldn’t. Thus, the law would essentially only affect honest people while doing effectively nothing about straw purchasers.
But I digress. The effectiveness or innocuousness2 of a particular law is not the issue. The issue — which is conveniently ignored by anti-gun writers — is that such laws violate state preemption law and are thus invalid. The new law allowing challenges to such invalid, illegal “laws” seeks to remedy this without requiring that someone be made a sacrificial lamb by violating the law and challenging it in court.
If the people of Pennsylvania think that lost-and-stolen laws are a good idea, they’re welcome to write and submit a bill in the state legislature. Such a law would be perfectly legal everywhere in the state. However, cities and other localities lack the legal authority to pass gun laws — any gun laws — in the state, and it’s wrong for them to ignore preemption, even if they have the best of intentions.
Hat tip to Sebastian.

  1. I’m leaving out the absurd misunderstanding of the so-called “Florida loophole” that Ms. Clift makes and am focusing solely on the preemption issue. []
  2. Which is, I was somewhat surprised to discover, actually a word. []

MI5 boss: “we cannot hope to stop everything”

From the BBC:

The threat is growing, MI5 is stretched, some of its capabilities are at risk.
All of that means something is likely to happen. That was the bleak message from [head of the UK’s MI5] Andrew Parker.

While I disagree with Mr. Parker’s assertion that the security services need more powers to intercept and monitor all communications (which, in the UK, they pretty much do already, so I’m not sure how they’d increase that ability), I do agree that it’s unreasonable to expect 100% safety or 100% success in stopping bad guys from doing bad things.
Thus, as always, the answer is to be reasonably prepared to take care of oneself in various situations until the cavalry arrives: in this case, having a gun and the training and will to use it effectively if the need arises while hoping that one would never face such a situation.
Consider, for example, the photos taken of the killers in Paris by citizens sheltering on nearby rooftops. Had one or more people on those rooftops been armed, even with handguns, they would have been able to fire from an elevated position on the unsuspecting bad guys. At the very least, this would have caused confusion on the part of the bad guys, distracted them, and slowed them down — hopefully until the police could arrive.
Alternatively, if directly confronted by armed bad guys intent on murder, being armed gives one at least a fighting chance of surviving the encounter. Success is not assured, particularly when it comes to defending oneself from heavily armed attackers who had the element of surprise, but it’s better than nothing.

CNN: Bill Clinton: America has ‘bought the NRA’s theory’

Former president Bill Clinton talked with CNN on Wednesday and had a few choice things to say about the NRA. Those familiar with the former president should not be surprised that he looks disparagingly upon the NRA and gun owners:

The former president, in a conversation with CNN’s Erin Burnett at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, lumped together the NRA, stand your ground laws, and people surrounding themselves only with those who agree with them as problems that lead to a more violent climate in the United States.

He does have a point with the last part — diversity is the spice of life, after all — but he’s way off base on the other points.

“I think we have enhanced the risks by changing the environment, basically, because it seems we bought the NRA’s theory that we would all be safer if everybody in this audience had a gun that was a concealed weapon,” Clinton said. “Then if one of them felt threatened by another, they could stand up right here and stand their ground. And we could watch the whole saga unfold. That is what happens.”

I fail to see how someone being lawfully able to defend themselves when genuinely threatened,?regardless of where they happen to be at the time, is a bad thing.
Stand Your Ground laws are not a blanket license to kill anyone for any reason, but rather simply say that a person has no duty to retreat from a place they have a lawful right to be and can use force (including lethal force) if they?reasonably believe they face an imminent and immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury (emphasis mine). They’d still need to explain themselves to the authorities after the fact, and it’s not uncommon for people invoking “stand your ground” provisions to be found guilty.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that even with the liberalization of concealed carry, the spread of Stand Your Ground, and other pro-gun-rights policies being enacted, gun-related violent crime is?way down since Clinton was in office.
It looks like America has indeed “bought the NRA’s theory” and that theory is?actually working.

911 should be part of a plan, not the whole plan

One of the key points of disagreement between pro-gunners and anti-gunners is on the concept of whether or not it is necessary, or even appropriate, for an ?average? citizen to have ready access to a lethal weapon in case they are attacked. Anti-gunners often hold that the proper course of action when one is threatened by another is to call the police and let them deal with the problem. To the average person this might sound like a perfectly reasonable answer, but it reallyisn?t. The giant hole in the anti-gunner self defense plan is that even the best police response is going to be minutes out in a situation where seconds define the boundaries between life and death.

Tim at Gun Nuts Media.
Read the whole thing. Lots of good info.