# Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Murder: Some Numbers

At the current rate, an American high school student faces a risk of being murdered in a school shooting in a year of about 0.0014%.

Based on last year’s crime statistics, the overall probability of a person in the US being murdered in a year is about 0.005%.

Also based on last year’s crime statistics, a citizen of St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, or Detroit — including children in those cities — has a risk of being murdered in a year of about 0.049%.

If the current rate continues, there will be about two dozen school shooters this year — based on a reasonable definition of what constitutes a school shooting. Their total victims will constitute about one half of one percent of all United States homicides.

Overall, in the United States, about 16,000 murders will be committed this year. Most of them — about two-thirds — will be committed by males between the ages of 17 and 35.

The 30 most violent cities in America represent about six percent of the US population but account for about a quarter of all murders.

There is nothing trivial about school shootings, but there is also nothing typical about them. If we wish to reduce their frequency, we have to find ways to reach the last 0.0003% of the male high school population. Put differently, 99.9997% of the young men in our high schools are not in danger of becoming school shooters.

Let’s look at the two dozen who are and try to understand their pathology. But let’s not mistake them for normal. Most of the other 99.5% of murders in the United States this year will be more typical, more predictable, and more preventable.

1. Member

Henry Racette: The 30 most violent cities in America represent about six percent of the US population but account for about a quarter of all murders.

In most of those cities a few neighborhoods account for all or almost all the murders.

For example, here’s a homicide map of Chicago in 2017:

• 10 neighborhoods with no homicides.
• 15 neighborhoods with 436
• The rest of the city (60 or so neighborhoods) with 235

Leave the most violent neighborhoods out of the equation and Chicago isn’t that much more violent than a “normal” city.

• #1
• February 18, 2018, at 2:51 PM PST
• 4 likes
2. Member

Henry – even one is too many – statistics don’t fly here. If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning, especially in a modern, free democracy, where can you feel safe?

• #2
• February 18, 2018, at 2:55 PM PST
• Like
3. Inactive

Yes, Henry, shame on you for using your numbers to attack our Feels.

• #3
• February 18, 2018, at 3:00 PM PST
• 10 likes
4. Podcaster

FBI dropped the ball on this one. However, statistics being what they are, an 18 year old still has no business owning an AR15.

• #4
• February 18, 2018, at 3:01 PM PST
• Like
5. Member

Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning,

I’m not sure where to start with that one, though home schooling is a place of learning

especially in a modern, free democracy,

Less and less so every day, and certainly less in schools. The only permitted civic religion in most schools is multiculturalism, and identity politics is the chosen ideology of the adminstrative state and the main urban political party. Unfortunately,

In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.

Lee Kuan Yew

Lee was right, and without a massively rising tide, when the entitlement state and the looming debt crisis hit the fan, the US may well fragment.

• #5
• February 18, 2018, at 3:08 PM PST
• 1 like
6. Contributor
Henry Racette

Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
Henry – even one is too many – statistics don’t fly here. If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning, especially in a modern, free democracy, where can you feel safe?

I appreciate your passion here, FSC. We are talking about life and death — and that makes it a particularly bad time to throw rationality out the window.

Yes, even one is too many. But every year in the United States, about 500 children are murdered by their own parents. That figure dwarfs fatalities from school shootings. If even one is too many, what do we do about that?

The truth is that a child in an American high school is safe. She’s far more likely to be seriously injured or killed while not in school than while in school. There’s no such thing as perfect safety. That’s why we have statistics, and why we need to use them.

Another truth is that we can not completely prevent rare statistical outliers. We can invest an enormous amount of energy and money trying to do so, and perhaps we should. But we shouldn’t do it at the expense of essential liberties, nor at the expense of attention to far more substantial rates of crime in other contexts.

The world is imperfect, and tragedies are going to happen. We have to approach them rationally.

• #6
• February 18, 2018, at 3:24 PM PST
• 16 likes
7. Member
Mark Wilson

Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
Henry – even one is too many – statistics don’t fly here. If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning, especially in a modern, free democracy, where can you feel safe?

It’s a hard question, in part because what somebody requires in order to feel safe is subjective. As Henry has pointed out the chances are remote, but the emotional impact of the news is hard to avoid. Many people fear flying, not because there is a significant chance of dying in a plane crash (more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport, etc.) but because dying in a plane crash is both terrifying and easy to imagine. So some people don’t feel safe flying. I won’t call it irrational. It’s simply human. Feeling unsafe at school because of school shootings is probably much the same.

None of this should be construed to deny the horror or suggest we don’t need to figure out how to prevent them.

• #7
• February 18, 2018, at 3:33 PM PST
• 6 likes
8. Moderator
Randy Weivoda

Dave Sussman (View Comment):
FBI dropped the ball on this one. However, statistics being what they are, an 18 year old still has no business owning an AR15.

My father-in-law took a job at age 14 or 15 guarding a sheep herd from coyotes and wolves. I don’t recall what model of rifle he was given to do the job, but I’m sure it wasn’t an AR-15. But I bet an AR-15 would be a splendid gun for that kind of work.

• #8
• February 18, 2018, at 4:00 PM PST
• 6 likes
9. Podcaster
EJHill

Dave Sussman: However, statistics being what they are, an 18 year old still has no business owning an AR15.

My son started wielding the military version of that weapon on the range at Parris Island at 18.

• #9
• February 18, 2018, at 5:17 PM PST
• 10 likes
10. Contributor
Henry Racette

At least one of my sons has an AR-15. Another has an Israeli Galil. All six of them own guns, most more than one. I bought my younger children their first guns when they were ten or twelve.

I don’t know if age of acquisition correlates positively with eventual misuse. I suspect the opposite is the case, but I’m just guessing.

And I think there’s nothing very special about an AR-15, really. They’re fun to shoot, but they’re still just semi-automatics, and lots of people have semi-automatics. If I didn’t trust my 18 year old children with AR-15s, I certainly wouldn’t trust them with cars.

• #10
• February 18, 2018, at 5:34 PM PST
• 8 likes
11. Member

Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning, especially in a modern, free democracy, where can you feel safe?

I would argue that many kids don’t feel safe going to school as it is, not because of an unlikely school shooting, but because of bullying and lack of discipline for bullies and troublemakers in the school. In our community, many parents have taken to social media to share their stories of being ignored by administrators when they have repeatedly reported bullying, but nothing was done. One autistic young man was sodomized on a school bus by four other students on the way home from a middle school away game. (And this was the well-to-do, mostly white school). Media and parent hysterics may make kids fear school due to a shooting event, but the fear is real right now for many students.

• #11
• February 18, 2018, at 6:10 PM PST
• 1 like
12. Contributor
Henry Racette

Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning, especially in a modern, free democracy, where can you feel safe?

I would argue that many kids don’t feel safe going to school

Appreciate the comment. What you describe is, I would suggest, a symptom of the kinds of pathology we should be talking about.

• #12
• February 18, 2018, at 6:27 PM PST
• 4 likes
13. Coolidge

Henry Racette:There is nothing trivial about school shootings, but there is also nothing typical about them. If we wish to reduce their frequency, we have to find ways to reach the last 0.0003% of the male high school population. Put differently, 99.9997% of the young men in our high schools are not in danger of becoming school shooters.

Let’s look at the two dozen who are and try to understand their pathology. But let’s not mistake them for normal. Most of the other 99.5% of murders in the United States this year will be more typical, more predictable, and more preventable.

What should we make of the fact that, based on your stats, identifying shooters ahead of time will be like finding a needle in a haystack? It seems to lend credence to the suggestion that keeping guns away from kids will be more effective. I have concerns about both the constitutionality and the efficacy of gun control measures, but the former means nothing in an America where the meaning of the constitution changes with popular opinion.

• #13
• February 18, 2018, at 6:48 PM PST
• 1 like
14. Contributor
Henry Racette

Henry Racette:There is nothing trivial about school shootings, but there is also nothing typical about them. If we wish to reduce their frequency, we have to find ways to reach the last 0.0003% of the male high school population. Put differently, 99.9997% of the young men in our high schools are not in danger of becoming school shooters.

Let’s look at the two dozen who are and try to understand their pathology. But let’s not mistake them for normal. Most of the other 99.5% of murders in the United States this year will be more typical, more predictable, and more preventable.

What should we make of the fact that, based on your stats, identifying shooters ahead of time will be like finding a needle in a haystack? It seems to lend credence to the suggestion that keeping guns away from kids will be more effective. I have concerns about both the constitutionality and the efficacy of gun control measures, but the former means nothing in an America where the meaning of the constitution changes with popular opinion.

I read it the opposite the way. The vast majority of kids are not a risk: it’s only that tiny fraction that represents a risk.

Keeping guns away from the two dozen individuals who might commit mass murder in a school is a great idea, but it’s kind of like keeping guns away from the couple of hundred people a year who commit bank robberies: it’s just not practical.

In fact, it’s impossible. There are hundreds of millions of guns in America, tens of millions of Americans consider gun ownership a near-sacred right, the Constitution unambiguously protects that right, and there is no way the Constitution will be amended to remove that right. So scores of millions of guns will remain in circulation, and anyone who really wants one will be able to get one.

I don’t know if there is a solution, short of remaining vigilant as this horrific fad runs its course, but eliminating guns isn’t one.

• #14
• February 18, 2018, at 7:10 PM PST
• 4 likes
15. Inactive
CitizenOfTheRepublic

Well said, Henry.

Although, I’ll throw in one bit I wrote yesterday when someone brought up similar statistics to “win the argument” or “prove a point” to an Older Hippie Obama WORSHIPPER whose son I went to school with…He’s actually an Air Force Commander and quite sensible, unlike Yogi Mom. And, then I’m going to throw in the rest of what I wrote to try to diffuse one little part of the freak out:

“to be fair, it is a horrific kind of attack when a semi-automatic rifle is used on helpless people. it is hard to blame people for reacting this way. i don’t blame anyone for prioritizing eliminating the horrific, if possible. i just think that what some jump to as a “solution” that is not useful or consonant with our culture.”

Now back to the top in response to her provocative “This isn’t a mental health issue. Every country has mentally ill people. The USA is the only one that arms them” meme:

no other nation has mass killings by deranged people? in fact, they do, . and your argument is based on not knowing, or caring to know that fact. why do you so easily insult your neighbors based on false premises? the world is a wide expanse. one can learn a lot by looking at what it is really like, instead of talking in cartoons.”

Her response: “I refuse to believe that any kind and loving intelligent person continues to be ok with the results of selling automatic weapons to anyone besides police and the military. If protecting the lives of children insults my neighbors, so be it.”

“you can insult people, but it would be helpful if you did so from a factual basis. automatic weapons are not generally for sale… requiring special licensing from BATF.

law enforcement had multiple warnings… no dots needed to be connected… and the authorities to whom we delegate the power to use force to protect us, chose not to act.

people kill people – 86 killed and 400+ horrifically injured with a truck, as one example – and we should do what we can to limit the incidence rate and the effect.

pretending that mass murders only happen here and only because you cannot get your preferred policy enacted is one way to approach this. has it moved toward the objective of limiting violent death in the last decades?”

– continued

• #15
• February 18, 2018, at 9:07 PM PST
• 1 like
16. Inactive
CitizenOfTheRepublic

Her response: “I would assume the Florida shooter would not have considered doing what he did without access to an automatic weapon. But say he had had a shotgun. How many people could he possibly have murdered? Automatic weapons make mass murders possible. I feel like saying those things is an insult to your intelligence.”

“again. point 1) not an automatic weapon. 2) yes, crazy people shouldn’t have easy access to weapons without background checks and opportunities to disarm/institutionalize. we do have background checks and with 2 tips to the FBI directly relating to school shooting ideation, they did NOTHING and the local police were in contact with him on the order of 30+ times related to violence/mental illness. why was he not committed? likely because of the anti-institutionalization movement of the 70s, which has had profound consequences – intended and unintended – good & bad.”

do you think that you are actually going to effect a disarmament in the US? if, yes, maybe you’re on the right path. if not, we could look at the problems with laws/regulations/polices such that obviously prohibited firearms possessors possess them and with our culture and how this form of murder is incentivized and opportunities to stop are systemically missed or consciously not taken.

based on the nature of our culture and government structure, i can assure you that you will not be getting your Australian-style disarmament (anytime soon, and likely never), so I suggest you direct your energy to other problems in the chain that lead from the existence of murderous ideation & the existence of 300+ million legally owned firearms to mass shootings.

it is glaringly obvious to you and others who think like you, that if we flipped a switch and all the guns went away, the mass shootings will stop. that’s obviously true*. but, we don’t live in a magical world where you can effect that. so why bang away on that impossible solution when there are many other ways to improve things?

*it also doesn’t deal with the fact that some base level of murders are committed in all societies – varying wildly by culture and legally owned firearms aren’t necessary for relatively high rates to exist. lots of narratives could be built around the variation in these rates, but some facts..as rough as these numbers are (hard to compile such statistics)…are useful https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

– continued

• #16
• February 18, 2018, at 9:10 PM PST
• 2 likes
17. Inactive
CitizenOfTheRepublic

“Joe Rogan has so many interesting conversations about everything…1000+ and often up to 3 hours. this recent talk with Johann Hari digs into the profound dislocations in our society and the depression, drug addiction, etc. I don’t know if his diagnosis holds up to scrutiny, but it is something to consider. I don’t think his prescription – a kind of anarcho-communism – makes any sense here in reality, but the diagnosis can be addressed by other treatments. [they curse like crazy, so if you don’t care for that…don’t listen] https://youtu.be/DQUgd9GQtoQ

her response: “Assault rifles make mass shootings possible.”

“and chemistry/explosives made it possible for a disgruntled school board treasurer to kill 38 kids and 6 adults in Bath Township, Michigan in 1927. where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“Bret Weinstein may get a little loopy/abstract earlier in this conversation, but he has many good points. of course, I particularly like this part on the problem with driving straight at a utopian goal without considering everything else that is consequent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzAgSp_O03I…”

I don’t know what makes the most sense as a strategy of argumentation when many are in Kimmel-esque states of mind, but those are my shots at it. Probably time to call in Scott Adams for guidance on persuasion. ;)

• #17
• February 18, 2018, at 9:18 PM PST
• 4 likes
18. Member

Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
Henry – even one is too many – statistics don’t fly here. If a kid cannot feel safe going to a place of learning, especially in a modern, free democracy, where can you feel safe?

It’s a hard question, in part because what somebody requires in order to feel safe is subjective. As Henry has pointed out the chances are remote, but the emotional impact of the news is hard to avoid. Many people fear flying, not because there is a significant chance of dying in a plane crash (more like to do die in a car accident on the way to the airport, etc.) but because dying in a plane crash is both terrifying and easy to imagine. So some people don’t feel safe flying. I won’t call it irrational. It’s simply human. Feeling unsafe at school because of school shootings is probably much the same.

None of this should be construed to deny the horror or suggest we don’t need to figure out how to prevent them.

I can’t equate the increase in mass murder that we’ve seen in our society in recent years, in schools, churches, theaters, concerts and other public venues, to flying and plane crashes. Plane crashes are rarely deliberate. These are planned out, deliberate acts of carnage with the ability to do swift damage in minutes. Like one student said, they thought it was a drill. So they’ve been trained to take cover, but how can a desk save you from rapid fire assault weapons. The FBI was called to the home of this boy 39 times??? It’s always the same story – all the warning signs were there they say.

• #18
• February 19, 2018, at 6:03 AM PST
• Like
19. Member

Great post. Thanks for taking the time to compile all that.

In medicine, we call rare diseases “zebras.” We teach medical students that when they hear hoof beats, they should look for horses, not zebras. Common things are common. You can do a lot of good looking for and treating common things. You can waste a lot of time and hurt a lot of people going after zebras all the time.

I just don’t see how such rare and random events can possibly be prevented. Perhaps we should encourage teachers to conceal-carry, or make schools harder targets in some other way, rather than advertise how vulnerable they are (gun-free zone!).

But good luck successfully predicting the future behavior of 20 crazy teenagers out of millions of kids. If that is our plan, we have no chance of success.

• #19
• February 19, 2018, at 6:21 AM PST
• 4 likes
20. Contributor
Henry Racette

Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
Great post. Thanks for taking the time to compile all that.

In medicine, we call rare diseases “zebras.” We teach medical students that when they hear hoof beats, they should look for horses, not zebras. Common things are common. You can do a lot of good looking for and treating common things. You can waste a lot of time and hurt a lot of people going after zebras all the time.

I just don’t see how such rare and random events can possibly be prevented. Perhaps we should encourage teachers to conceal-carry, or make schools harder targets in some other way, rather than advertise how vulnerable they are (gun-free zone!).

But good luck successfully predicting the future behavior of 20 crazy teenagers out of millions of kids. If that is our plan, we have no chance of success.

Agreed. And I like the medical analogy.

This comes under the heading of “unpalatable truth.” It’s hard to explicate without sounding defeatist and, by implication, cynical and unconcerned. Yet it remains the truth, and so deserves to be respected.

Armed school personnel would seem to be the obvious answer. It’s the smallest population in this entire discussion — smaller than the students, smaller than the gun-owning public. It’s an identifiable group some portion of which could be prepared to deal with this horror. We understand how to respond to a shooting event, and we know that an armed response works — and works quickly.

It’s actually an old and tested response to violence: putting guns in the hands of responsible people.

• #20
• February 19, 2018, at 8:00 AM PST
• 4 likes
21. Member

Dave Sussman: However, statistics being what they are, an 18 year old still has no business owning an AR15.

My son started wielding the military version of that weapon on the range at Parris Island at 18.

My son did the same thing at Pendleton.

• #21
• February 19, 2018, at 8:24 AM PST
• 1 like
22. Contributor
Henry Racette

Dave Sussman: However, statistics being what they are, an 18 year old still has no business owning an AR15.

My son started wielding the military version of that weapon on the range at Parris Island at 18.

My son did the same thing at Pendleton.

Mine #3 son also, Fort Leonard Wood, age 18. (Though, like all of them, he was shooting by age 12.)

• #22
• February 19, 2018, at 8:27 AM PST
• 1 like
23. Member

Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
But good luck successfully predicting the future behavior of 20 crazy teenagers out of millions of kids. If that is our plan, we have no chance of success.

Those twenty or so are part of a much, much smaller pool.

Millions of kids

• don’t wind up having the cops come to their homes dozens of times… about them
• don’t kill small animals for fun (the Florida rampage killer is reported to have done so
• don’t behave in ways that kids they go to school with have an uneasy feeling that they’re going to shoot up the school.
• aren’t expelled from school and banned from carrying backpacks etc on to the campus.

With all that, why did this particular young male not have something on his record that would preclude him from owning a long gun?

Back to medicine for a moment. Heck, back to engineering, law enforcement, the military… if part of your game is played for mortal stakes and if something unexpected and lethal happens you go back and try to figure out if you missed something or did something wrong and try not to miss it or do it again.

If it turns out that something that was supposed to be done wasn’t done, or something that was not supposed to be done was done and that that omission or commission caused the lethal consequences, there are supposed to be professional consequences as well.

• #23
• February 19, 2018, at 8:56 AM PST
• 2 likes
24. Member

Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
But good luck successfully predicting the future behavior of 20 crazy teenagers out of millions of kids. If that is our plan, we have no chance of success.

Those twenty or so are part of a much, much smaller pool.

Millions of kids

• don’t wind up having the cops come to their homes dozens of times… about them
• don’t kill small animals for fun (the Florida rampage killer is reported to have done so
• don’t behave in ways that kids they go to school with have an uneasy feeling that they’re going to shoot up the school.
• aren’t expelled from school and banned from carrying backpacks etc on to the campus.

With all that, why did this particular young male not have something on his record that would preclude him from owning a long gun?

Back to medicine for a moment. Heck, back to engineering, law enforcement, the military… if part of your game is played for mortal stakes and if something unexpected and lethal happens you go back and try to figure out if you missed something or did something wrong and try not to miss it or do it again.

If it turns out that something that was supposed to be done wasn’t done, or something that was not supposed to be done was done and that that omission or commission caused the lethal consequences, there are supposed to be professional consequences as well.

You make fair points, and I really can’t directly argue with most of it. But I maintain that picking these kids out ahead of time is, for intents and purposes, impossible. This shooter would probably have been easier to pick out – there were warning signs in this case. But in many of these situations, there are either no warning signs, or at least none that are apparent except in retrospect.

But the problem is that every school has a handful of kids who are troubled in one way or another. Sometimes their troubles are apparent, sometimes they’re not. But my point is that there are LOTS of these kids. How many of them become mass murderers? Very, very few. In a country with due process laws and innocence until proven guilty, this is a difficult problem.

So should we be looking for them ahead of time? Sure. And sometimes, you may catch one. In fact, I’ll bet we do more often than we realize.

But I think the most practical solution is to make each school less of a soft target somehow. I would prefer to stop these shootings before they happen. But since that is likely to miss a few, I suggest we be ready on the other end.

One last point: Our goal is to minimize these shootings. Reducing them to zero is not realistic, and that should be accepted from the outset.

• #24
• February 19, 2018, at 9:17 AM PST
• 2 likes
25. Member

But the problem is that every school has a handful of kids who are troubled in one way or another. Sometimes their troubles are apparent, sometimes they’re not. But my point is that there are LOTS of these kids. How many of them become mass murderers? Very, very few. In a country with due process laws and innocence until proven guilty, this is a difficult problem.

So should we be looking for them ahead of time? Sure. And sometimes, you may catch one. In fact, I’ll bet we do more often than we realize.

But I think the most practical solution is to make each school less of a soft target somehow. I would prefer to stop these shootings before they happen. But since that is likely to miss a few, I suggest we be ready on the other end.

One last point: Our goal is to minimize these shootings. Reducing them to zero is not realistic, and that should be accepted from the outset.

Yes. Harden the targets and accept that there is no 100% certainty, and that if there were, we probably wouldn’t like it.

The tech oligarchs who already dominate our culture and commerce, manipulate our moods, and shape the behaviors of our children while accumulating capital at a rate unprecedented in at least a century want to fashion our urban future in a way that dramatically extends the reach of the surveillance state already evident in airports and on our phones.

Redesigning cities has become all the rage in the tech world, with Google parent company Alphabet leading the race to build a new city of its own and companies like Y Combinator, Lyft, Cisco, and Panasonic all vying to design the so-called smart city.

It goes without saying, this is not a matter of merely wanting to do good. These companies are promoting these new cities as fitter, happier, more productive, and convenient places, even as they are envisioning cities with expanded means to monitor our lives, and better market our previously private information to advertisers.

This drive is the latest expansion of the Valley’s narcissistic notion of “changing the world” through disruption of its existing structures and governments and the limits those still place on the tech giants’ grandest ambitions. This new urban vision negates the notion of organic city-building and replaces it with an algorithmic regime that seeks to rationalize, and control, our way of life.

• #25
• February 19, 2018, at 9:45 AM PST
• 2 likes
26. Member

Slightly more than twice the number of people killed in this latest shooting are killed by dogs each year in the US, with a goodly portion of those killed being children. Combine that with the number maimed and the fact that many (if not most) neighbor disputes involve dogs and it would be easy to say, as the gun controllers do, that no one “needs” a dog (except for the occasional working dog) and they should be banned. We don’t even have a right to own dogs enshrined in the constitution. I don’t have a dog and have no interest in one, so I’d be perfectly fine with banning dogs, but I’m smart enough (if only barely) to know that the impulse to ban leads eventually to everything being illegal. You can make the same arguments for bicycles, sports, and on and on.

• #26
• February 19, 2018, at 11:32 AM PST
• 3 likes
27. Contributor
Henry Racette

Randal H (View Comment):
Slightly more than twice the number of people killed in this latest shooting are killed by dogs each year in the US, with a goodly portion of those killed being children. Combine that with the number maimed and the fact that many (if not most) neighbor disputes involve dogs and it would be easy to say, as the gun controllers do, that no one “needs” a dog (except for the occasional working dog) and they should be banned. We don’t have even have a right to own dogs enshrined in the constitution. I don’t have a dog and have no interest in one, so I’d be perfectly fine with banning dogs, but I’m smart enough (if only barely) to know that the impulse to ban leads eventually to everything being illegal. You can make the same arguments for bicycles, sports, and on and on.

Well put.

• #27
• February 19, 2018, at 12:01 PM PST
• Like
28. Inactive
CitizenOfTheRepublic

Henry Racette (View Comment):
“to be fair, it is a horrific kind of attack when a semi-automatic rifle is used on helpless people. it is hard to blame people for reacting this way. i don’t blame anyone for prioritizing eliminating the horrific, if possible. i just think that what some jump to as a “solution” that is not useful or consonant with our culture.”

yes, true. we are assessing things in this rational way. but, it seems to me that is poor persuasion technique – more likely to enrage someone who is freaking out imagining that the infinitesimally likely catastrophic event could happen to them/theirs. that seems to be our innate caveman wiring. any horrific thing that a caveman knew about WAS likely to happen to him. our perfect communication to the improbable events of 7+ billion overwhelms our wiring for survival. i don’t see how charging straight into that wiring, which is as much emotional as abstract-thinking rational, is going to diffuse anything.

i think we have to accept the fear/horror and guide towards what is effective. listen, they are correct. if all guns went away in the next 5 minutes, there would be no more mass shootings. we know that it is not only impossible to be so effective on any time scale, but likely to trigger something akin to a hot civil war if gun-controllers were to try. so there is no net benefit in this nation to trying to make guns disappear.

can we not rather direct their understandable energy into getting effective action from local law enforcement and the FBI, which is piling up quite a number of cases of people saw something, said something, and the FBI did nothing (or at least nothing effective – Orlando, Boston, Garland, etc.)?

there seem to be real roadblocks to disarming and confining dangerously mentally ill people and murderous jijadis. these road blocks may not be legal; they might just be subjective – fear of identity-based lobbies, safeguards against improper involuntary commitment that disincentivize trying.

give them a: “To be fair, it is a horrific kind of attack when a semi-automatic rifle is used on helpless people. I cannot blame you for reacting this way. Of course, you want to prioritize eliminating the horrific, if possible. I just think that some of what you are jumping to as a ‘solution’ is not really practical, useful, or consonant with our culture.”

a non-zero number of toddlers drown in buckets each year – on the order of 5. that kind of “fun fact” is not what rightly horrified people want to hear. even if it puts all improbable events in some perspective.

everything happens: i’m going to shoot myself in my right thigh some day when I take my little, 5-shot carry revolver out of my pocket in the car. I just hope that it is a few thousand years from now…and I exercise caution to try to make that certain.

• #28
• February 19, 2018, at 3:17 PM PST
• Like
29. Member
Mark Wilson

I can’t equate the increase in mass murder that we’ve seen in our society in recent years, in schools, churches, theaters, concerts and other public venues, to flying and plane crashes. Plane crashes are rarely deliberate. These are planned out, deliberate acts of carnage with the ability to do swift damage in minutes. Like one student said, they thought it was a drill. So they’ve been trained to take cover, but how can a desk save you from rapid fire assault weapons. The FBI was called to the home of this boy 39 times??? It’s always the same story – all the warning signs were there they say.

I’m not equating anything. I’m comparing people’s natural reaction to two different very scary, but remote, possibilities. In both cases they behave like humans, not calculating probabilities but reacting with a conservative (evolutionarily speaking) hormone-based response. Whether the threat is a freak accident or a deliberate act of violence, humans react with heightened fear. I don’t know what your objection is to the comparison.

• #29
• February 19, 2018, at 6:11 PM PST
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30. Contributor
Henry Racette

There is no perfect answer, but there is one essential answer that must be pursued if we hope to actually reduce school-shooting deaths in the next few years.

Arm able and willing school staff.

• #30
• February 19, 2018, at 6:22 PM PST
• 3 likes