Saturday, 28 July 2012

Stopping a Massacre

So inevitably since the Colorado shootings at the latest Batman movie we have been seeing an explosion in arguments about gun control or less restriction on gun control and what have you. Either way idiots from both sides of the playing field have been going head to head claiming their way is the best and they can prevent gun crime. I personally live in a nation where we do have restricted gun access and as recent news has shown the official restrictions on guns do not prevent them from illegally falling into people`s hand nor from people using those guns to kill other people by one iota. I`ve always said that if people want to find a way to kill one another they would whether they had guns or not. Sad to say though that here in Canada or even in gun restrictive Europe, history has shown time and time again that no matter how much you restrict guns, some mad individual will still be able to find one and kill people.

Now on the opposite side of the fence we have the argument from those advocating no gun control are those who say that one man with a gun could have prevented that massacre in the movie theatre. Yes that's right folks, somehow one man with a gun was going to successfully engage an armored target in a dark movie theatre and save lives!

Now disregarding the obvious madness of engaging in a gunfight in a crowded movie theatre let's just review a few things shall we? One is that I am personally an advocate of the average citizens right to bear arms (baring military hardware however) and to defend himself using said firearm. I also have no qualms about having to sign a form with my guns registration and serial number and handing that form over to a government database. If you sincerely have a problem with law enforcement knowing you own a gun I highly doubt you should be trusted with one.

Back to the madness of the theatre business though. I suppose if we ignore the circumstances surrounding the incident one can actually argue that the basic premise (an armed citizen can prevent a massacre) does have some truth to it. Mind you this is something of a very small chance.

To use the theatre massacre as an example, the target was throwing smoke bombs, wearing body armor, could fire indiscriminately, and had surprise on his side, let's just say the chances of a gun user actively hitting and stopping this guy without incuring collateral damage of his own are dramatically slim. But how about if the man had been in a crowded shopping mall with better light and visibility? Well again statistically the chances are extremely small this wouldn't incur just as much collateral damage as a shoot out in a theatre. Can the average person be expected to take a good shot under stressful circumstances surrounded by blood fear and chaos? Not really. That is why we have trained professionals afterall.

Contrary to the ravings of rabid gun supporters the average person is not the most reliable gunfighter. And contrary to anti-gun nuts it means that the average person (even those that practice regularly) is not extremely reliable at shooting past a certain range.

Now I certainly agree with the gun crowd that an armed society (especially one in the West where we are not desperate) is one that is more likely to have a lower crime rate (in relation to violent or random crime at least) but what most of those people forget is that while this weeds out the less confident and more cowardly criminals from occasional acts of bravado, it does leave us with the more dangerous, hardened criminals who are more likely to ambush and kill someone rather than simply attempt to mug them. A stellar trade off? Not really. There are of course a myriad of factors which makes the statement 'An armed society is a peaceful society' quite untrue.

However, an unarmed society is one which is certainly more dangerous to live in. No means of self-defense is inevitably worse than having to deal with the occasional dangerous criminal and leaving ones self at the mercy of petty thugs.

But does this have any bearing on preventing a massacre? In reality no. There is very little one can do to prevent an indivudual from simply buying (legally or otherwise) a weapon and then turning it on his fellow man. No legislation, police force, government, or individual is capable of stopping a man from walking into a theatre and opening fire if he is determined to. The fact that both sides of the debate jump to meaningless conclusions about laws and regulations is really quite stupid. The real focus must be the tragedy and how we can help the victims.

There are a plethora of better ideas for trying to stop potential mass murderers like the ones listed here which have much more substance than the simple 'ban all guns' or 'everyone should carry one' that gets thrown around like so much monkey feces.

We must all remember that right now the most important thing is to pray for those wounded and the families of those who have lost loved ones. Because really if we can't do that, then the whole debate is moot anyways.


  1. Thanks for linking to my blog.

    However, it turns out the Colorado shooter's "tactical vest" wasn't actually body armor--it was a vest with pockets in it. He was not nearly as hard a target as people thought.

    The people who sold him the gear call it an "urban assault vest."

    Here's an urban assault vest:

    Not much protection there.

    Furthermore, a bulletproof vest doesn't just shrug off bullets. Being shot while wearing one is like being hit with a baseball bat.

    Fair point about the confusion and lots of people in the way though.

  2. I'm all for reasonable gun control, but like you said, there's really nothing they could have done to prevent this. Laxer gun control would probably have killed more people in the confusion and tougher gun control would have done zilch - criminals would still have guns and would still go on shootings regardless.

  3. Well done Stienberg, but I disagree on one big point, that a concealed carier shooter would have been unable to stop the shooter, and thus, there would be no point in having one. All that chaos would have effected thier shooting, no doubt, but having people firing back at him would have effected the shooter. As I pointed out in my article, one lucky shot could have ended the shooting - as it stands, it only ended when the guns jammed and the ammo ran out. 1 in 50 is still better odds than 0.

  4. @Matt. Thank you for reading and enlightening me on the type of body armor actually used. Makes me revise my opinion somewhat. In that light it seems as though a citizen with a gun could probably have downed him, mind you the odds are still iffy, but still more chance in those circumstances.


    Thanks for the reader loyalty :)


    Thank you Korsgard for the praise there!

    Yes I agree the argument goes both ways, the shooter would certainly have had to duck, but sadly unlike the valiant citizen rising to the challenge he has no need to worry about collateral damage at all. You do provide a good case on your blog though for someone shooting back and killing the spree killer, fair example in there and based on others I have seen recently there is a fair point in the argument.

    I will stick by my belief in this case though, a dark, smokey theatre is less than the ideal place for a shoot out. I doubt even a professional could have pulled off a good shot to take him down. Though I will conceed in light of Matt's revelation on his armor and the 'one lucky shot' that yes a one in fifty chance is much better odds than zero. I might not like the odds but they are still better than zero.