Tag Archives: gun ownership

The chilling effect of concealed carry law on the Texas classroom

Texas has adopted a law that allows students to bring a handgun to class, or to meetings with professors.

As a response to this policy, the president of the Faculty Senate, Jonathan Snow, gathered a group of faculty and gave a powerpoint presentation that included the slide at the top of the post.

Snow’s presentation was not any sort of official university statement, but the slide does a good job of demonstrating the likely effect on faculty student relationships under the conditions where students are more likely to pull out a handgun and plug the professor.

The situation, and the context for this presentation, are written up in this post at the Chronicle of Higher Education. PZ Myers discusses it here. The powerpoint presentation is available here.

A suitable response faculty may consider is here.

Senator Kelly Ayotte: Going down in flames

Hey, guess what? It turns out that if 90% of the people want something, and it is the only right thing to do, and not doing it not only “not the right thing” but it is also an abysmally horrid, insensitive, immoral, and boneheaded thing to do, that YOU LOSE.

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is going down in flames. She will be voted out of office entirely on the basis of her no vote on the background check law. Good bye Kelly.

If you want to see the mechanism of pushback against hate and gun nuttery, have a look:

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A little gun math

As you know, I often mention reports from the Ohh Shoot blog, which chronicles the virtually daily instances of someone doing something accidental with a gun and the associated serious wounding or killing of one or more other individuals. These events are not part of the large number of suicides using guns that happen every year, and they are not part of the large number of shootings related to felonies carried out with the aid of a gun and they are not part of the number of times a person shoots a truly armed and dangerous intruder truly intruding the home (as opposed to a grandchild hanging out on the porch mistaken for an intruder by a trigger happy grandpa). In other words, the steady drumbeat of accidental serious wounding and killing that counts as pure gun-related accident is a small component of the overall problem of gun violence.

Nonetheless it is important.

If a plane crashed and 365 people died in the crash and it turned out that the plane crashed because there were two commercial airline pilots playing chicken, people would notice, people would get mad, people would go to prison, new laws would be passed and new rules would be made, and no one would be saying it isn’t important. No one.

Well, those ca 365 deaths that happen every year in the US because two idiots are playing chicken or because some cop left his private handgun loaded and unlocked on the night stand or because some buzzed dudes decided to practice shooting in the living room of their apartment are the same thing.

So it is important, which is a point I wanted to make here, but not the main focus of this post. Instead, I want to try something a bit fast and loose and dangerous but that might be interesting.

You know that on National Gun Appreciation Day a gazillion responsible gun owners got together to fork over their hard earned money to gun dealers and otherwise play around with their hardware. During this process, a certain number of people have taken bullets or fragments of bullets as various firearms were accidentally discharged. As of this writing, 8 people have been shot. John McKay is documenting this here.

But they all lived, and in fact, I think none of the incidents were serious enough to have made it into Ohh Shoot blog were it not for the connection to the Gun Appreciation Day events. (Even then, I’m not sure if they’ll be covered there or not).

What does this mean? Well, there may be a number, a factor, that we can multiply by the number of near deadly or deadly incidents of the type that seem to happen at a rate of about one per day, to estimate the total number of dumb-ass accidental woundings that happen every day above and beyond the more spectacular ones, when people merely get nicked and don’t bother getting medical attention, or the incident is otherwise not reported.

So far, that number could be around 8, based on John’s data. But really, are we sure that every single event happening at the Gun Appreciation Day is being reported? Maybe we should round up to 10. In any event, we should wait a few days for the dust and smoke to settle, and see what John’s final count is, and consider which cases were serious enough to have been widely reported and to make it into a blog like Ohh Shoot.

At present, it would not be entirely absurd to suggest that between 3,000 and 4,000 events occur in the US each year in which someone does something dumb with a gun, the gun goes off, and someone gets nicked. How many times does something like this happen, the gun goes off, but no one is nicked? I’ll guess ten times that. About 35,000 times a year, somebody does something dumb with a gun and it fires unexpectedly. About 3500 times someone is nicked with the bullet or shrapnel but not seriously injured. About 350 times there is a serious wounding or death. Mostly, we hear about that last category.

Don’t like my numbers, assumptions, or calculations? Fine! Provide your own in the comments.

Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Let’s spend a little time to appreciate guns. Because this is the very first Gun Appreciation Day! I’m not sure why we’ve never had a Gun Appreciation Day before, but now that we have one let’s celebrate with a review of the last month’s interesting stories about guns! Yay!

For completeness, because I’m sure Gun Appreciation Day was generated in response to the massacre of 20 six year olds and their teachers and other school personnel in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, we’ll go back to the day before that event, to something sort of local to me, and review events over the last month or so.

An old man in Rochester, Minnesota heard someone on his patio, so he grabbed his 9 mm and pumped a couple of rounds through the door. It was his granddaughter sneaking around outside. She was shot in the throat, lived, but was in serious condition for a while. Yesterday, the local officials charged him.

On December 14th, as you know, 26 people at an elementary school, mostly six or seven year olds, were executed by a guy who borrowed his mom’s guns. He killed himself.

Ryder Rozier shot himself in the head with a loaded pistol he found in the night stand. This was in Oklahoma, so it's OK, no laws were violated.
Three days later, in Columbia, South Carolina, 62-year-old Jerry Marsh killed himself while dismantling his Glock. This was done at the Shooter’s Choice gun store and range. In Guthrie Oklahoma, the very next day, Ryder Rozier, three years old, got a hold of his uncle’s handgun, loaded and unlocked in a bedroom nightstand. The little boy shot himself in the head and died. That is legal in Oklahoma, apparently. You can leave the gun around loaded and unlocked, it’s OK, so nobody did anything wrong.

On the 19th, two 20-something year olds went to a gun show in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. One of them bought a 9mm handgun, loaded it, and the gun went off. He shot himself through the hand, and shot his friend in the ass, all with one bullet! Apparently, that’s OK, no charges were filed. You can do that in Kentucky.

A few days after Christmas, Robert Furey, of North Carolina, told the cops that he shot his teenage neighbor with a high powered rifle. He had heard someone coming in the house so he started shooting. 15 year old Nick Exley was killed on the spot. Furey later changed his story to “it went off by accident when I was showing him the gun.” But don’t get the wrong impression. It isn’t necessarily the case that everyone who is a killer is also a liar! Maybe just this one guy.

On December 31st, Attorney Guy Dotson of Tennessee shot himself while cleaning his handgun. It was a through and trough. Dotson specializes in weapons related law:

Guy R. Dotson Jr. and M. Andy Brunelle have more than two decades of combined experience with a broad range of gun charge cases. From arrest to outcome, you can count on them for thorough research and investigation, and preparation of your case as if it is going to trial. We skillfully negotiate with prosecutors and persuasively present your story to a judge and jury if necessary.

I have not heard if he survived. Anybody know?

Happy New Year! On January 2, two people were killed in Vermont while appreciating guns. Louis Miller was holding his handgun when it went off. He wasn’t drunk, but may have been buzzed. Buzzed gunplay is drunk gunplay, people! Anyway, he’s dead. Also, Jacob Lehouillier of Vermont was killed by his brother while he was cleaning a shotgun. The very next day, in neighboring Massachusetts, two guys were playing “quick draw” to see which was quicker, a knife and a gun. One of them (the one with the gun) proceeded to shoot the other, who was hospitalized in serious condition. That apparently is not legal in Massachusetts, so charges were filed. The very next day, on January 4th, 8 year old Easton Brueger was killed by his daddy who was cleaning his gun when it went off. Easton did not die quickly.

On January 7th, 10 year old Aaliyah Boyer, of Pennsylvania, died. The was struck in the head by a bullet discharged for celebratory reasons. No one knows who shot the gun randomly into the air. The very next day, Al Dastmalchi, of North Carolina blasted his brother, George, thinking him to be an intruder. In an unrelated event, police had been called to the home earlier that night to deal with a domestic disturbance, at which time George was taken to the hospital to sober up, and later released. This shooting was totally legal in North Carolina so no charges will be filed. Stand your ground! Kill your drunk brother! The very next day, a four year old boy was shot by Brian Bruno, of Kansas, while playing around with a handgun. The boy was not killed. Bruno had pulled the trigger thinking the handgun to be unloaded. He is being charged. The very next day one 12 year old in Alabama killed another 12 year old boy with a 20 gauge he had gotten for Christmas.

On January 14th, Alex Shaw, of St. Petersburg, Florida, thought it would be a good idea to give his friends a gun safety lesson. He had bought the gun to protect himself after his father was shot dead by armed intruders last June, the same month Alex’s mother died of cancer. Anyway, Alex was telling his friends about how to keep the active chamber empty for safety. In demonstrating this, he put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger. The chamber was not empty, Alex killed himself.

On the 15th, Antonion Brown of Illinois killed his girlfriend, Sydni Blackwell while messing around with a gun. She did not die quickly. Brown was a convicted felon and thus should not have had a gun. The very next day, in Virginia, Casper Jones, 58 was shot in the head by his 4 year old nephew, one of the many children he apparently cared for many days. He died. So much for that day care option!

On January 17th, an FBI agent was accidentally shot on the range during a training session. He’ll live. The next day, Mark Bornino and Daniel Volpone, of Ohio, were target practicing in their back yard without a backstop. Mary Kuruc, who lives about a third of a mile away, got her microwave shot. They were using an AK-47 with high capacity magazines, some other guns, had hundreds of rounds of ammo, and they were drunk.

So, I hope you enjoy the rest of Gun Appreciation Day!

All of the stories above came from a blog that you should put in your RSS reader in order to appreciate guns every day: OHH SHOOT].

UPDATE: Gun Appreciation Day itself is not just a day to appreciate guns, but also, to play with guns, and when we play with guns what do we do? We shoot each other and ourselves by accident! John McKay has a post on the current situation with Gun Appreciation Day Caused Gunshot Wounds, which he says he’ll keep updated over the next few days if more information comes in. Check it out: Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Suicide (and sometimes murder) on the Gun Range

Sometimes, a person shows up at a gun range, checks out a gun ostensibly to use in target practice on the range, but instead uses the gun to commit suicide. In one case not long ago, a woman brought her teenage son to the range, and checked out two pistols. They took turn shooting for a while, then, while he was aiming his firearm at the target, she shot him in the back of the head and then shot herself. So that was murder-suicide. Now and then a person goes to the shooting range, and while shooting end up shooting themselves dead but it is not clear if it was an accident or suicide.

A quick search of google reveals a number of cases like this reported in the news. I’ve put links to and excerpts from a handful of them below. Did you know this was a thing? Apparently it is.

2009 August

CASSELBERRY, Fla. — A central Florida woman who fatally shot her son then killed herself at a shooting range wrote in suicide notes to her boyfriend that she was trying to save her son.
“I’m so sorry,” Marie Moore wrote several times. “I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell.” … She signed two of the notes “Failed Queen.”

2010 October

A Weston man shot and killed himself Friday morning at the Arizona Shooting Range in Lauderdale Lakes, leaving behind a suicide note, authorities said.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as a 47-year-old Weston man, but did not release his name.

The suicide occurred at about 10:45 a.m. at 4325 North State Road 7, said Veda Coleman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

“He shot himself there at the gun range,” Coleman said. “He did leave behind a note.”

2010 November

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A photocopy of a magazine cover about the Columbine school shooting was found among the belongings of Australian twin sisters who shot themselves in a suicide pact at a Colorado shooting range, authorities said Friday.

However, it remained unclear why Kristin and Candice Hermeler, both 29, had the cover of Time headlined “The Monsters Next Door/What Made Them Do It?” and why the sisters made the plan to kill themselves, authorities said. One of the women survived.

2012 February

A 52-year-old Tamarac man killed himself Saturday morning at a Broward shooting range, according to a Broward’s Sheriff’s Office release. When police went to notify his wife at home, they found her dead in a possible murder-suicide.

Police report that the man rented a gun at the Arizona Shooting Range & Emporium in Lauderdale Lakes at 10:18 a.m. He then went into the target-shooting area and shot himself in the head at 10:33 a.m., according to the release.

2012 July

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR)–The owner of The Smoking Gun pistol range didn’t want to appear on TV, but he did want to set the record straight about the suicide inside his business five days ago.

It began with the sound of gunshots inside a shooting range. It’s safe to say it’s common to hear that sound there, but a shot last week still haunts the range owner. “I yelled, ‘Lieutenant!” he said. “’You have five minutes,’ but he didn’t acknowledge me.”… Second Lieutenant James Cho, an Army Reserve officer was dead. The gunshot wound to the head was later determined to be a suicide. The Smoking Gun’s owner says Cho was in a position that he’ll never forget

2012 November

KENT COUNTY, MI – As family of Mark Sobie grieve his death after a self-inflicted gunshot wound last week at a Wyoming shooting range, they question why no laws prevented him from renting a firearm.

A background check, they say, would have shown the 43-year-old’s felony bank robbery conviction, an offense that led him to serve 30 months in federal prison. The criminal record prevents him from purchasing or possessing a gun.

Gun Nuts Stay Home: No Teachers or Staff With Guns in Schools!

The gun nuts did not waste much time after the brutal slaying of 20 six year olds, some teachers, a principal, and some others at a school in Newtown Connecticut to start suggesting that everything would have been fine if only the teachers were armed. And now, after more days have gone by, it seems that the gun nuts are making this suggestion even more frequently.

The evidence suggests that when there are more guns around, especially in the hands of untrained individuals, there is more rather than less danger. Don’t let anyone tell you that an armed population is a safe population. That is a blatant lie. The evidence also suggests that the few times there is an armed citizen in a position to to intervene in a spree killing, they don’t manage it. Arming citizens does not help. These two facts together explain why spree shootings in towns, neighborhoods, places, where people are constantly yammering about their guns and touting their conceal-carry behaviors all the time (like Colorado and Arizona) did not involve response by armed citizens even when they were present.

But none of that is as important as one simple fact. Well, two simple facts, regarding arming teachers in schools. Fact 1: The teachers want no part of it. Fact 1: The parents will not allow this.

There is a very good rational argument to not arm teachers, and there is not rational argument to do so. So we should not. But sometimes we also just need to do what people really want to do, or avoid doing what people just don’t want to do. That counts too, depending on what issue we are talking about. Here we have a situation where the gun nuts would really like to see teachers armed, but they are not teachers and they probably don’t even have kids in schools, and where the teachers themselves are saying they won’t do it. The parents are saying they don’t want it to happen. In this case, then, not only is there a rational argument to not arm teachers, but nobody involved who counts (the gun nuts don’t count) is going to allow it.

Today, a staff member (not a teacher) in a Minneapolis school who has a carry permit brought her pistol to school in response to her own fears raised since the Sandy Hook Massacre. The boneheaded gun nut bragged to her colleagues about it. Someone called the cops, the cops came in and found the gun and took it away, and the school administrators sent her home and have her on leave (charges are being considered). And guess what? The parents are livid.

If you work for a school and you think you know better than everyone else and unilaterally decide to bring your firearm to work, then you you should be fired and jailed.

Sandy Hook: Their Horror, Our Country, Your Guns.

Let me start with this. People talking about Sandy Hook need to stop saying that “20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 were killed.” That is technically true but misses an enormously important point and indicates that you really haven’t thought this through. All of the children who were killed were born between September 2005 and December 2006. They were all in the first grade, all in the same school year, and most of them in the same exact class. Sandy hook had about 100 students in that year. Now, the class is 20% smaller.

This means that every year for the next few years there will be a special, demographic, reminder of the killings. This will be the year with one fewer teacher and slightly more crowded classrooms, or the same number of teachers with smaller than typical classes, compared to the year ahead or behind. This will be the year when the number of busses needed for a field trip will sometiems be less than needed for the year before or the year after, as time marches on. In this particular school district, students consolidate into a middle school in the fifth grade, so the demographic shift will be less noticeable. Instead of 20% of the students missing, it will be 5%. But, that is not a small number when counting students, teachers, busses, desks, etc. It will be subtle, but the 7th grade history teacher will wait an extra year to order new textbooks. You see, one of the reasons to order a new volume, besides staying current, is attrition on the numbers of available books. When this class arrives that won’t be an issue for one more year. And so on. Many little things like this will happen, every week, to teachers, students, administrators. The memory, and thus the horror, of the Sandy Hook killings will be manifest in the details and will keep sneaking up on these people when they least expect it.

This is nothing, of course, compared to the horrors of the deaths and the circumstances surrounding them. But there will be times when a teacher will remember her fellow educator slain on that day while grading assignments and feeling the difference in numbers, or a student will notice that her section of the 4th grade concert assembly is smaller because her four best friends were slain while she hid in a cabinet, hearing her teacher trick the gunman into leaving the classroom just before being pumped with bullets. Will she remember the sound of her body falling to the floor or was it masked by the repeated gunfire or did she hear both sounds from her hiding place? You and I don’t know, but she’ll remember. If they make cute little year books for Elementary School graduation, this class will use less space, and it will take less time at the ceremony to hand out the scrolls. This will dawn on someone in the audience who will then be reminded of the horror, and if you are there, you’ll hear the sobbing.

Anyway, stop saying “20 children between the ages of 5 and 10” because that ignores the very important fact that these children were all the same exact age, as ages go.

Now, on to this point: Stop telling me that your guns are important. I don’t care about your guns. I have hobbies too, that don’t happen to involve guns and I don’t ask you to adjust your politics, to take risks of life and limb, to ignore the horrors of daily gunplay among testosterone poisoned men taking lives every few hours somewhere in this country, of the thousands of youth suicides every year facilitated by easy access to unsecured deadly firearms or the occasional horrific massacre. Do don’t do that to me. Don’t make me respect your stupid hobby which has, as a side effect, the horror that happened last week and will happen again in a few months, because these things happen every few months, in case you have not noticed because you are too busy playing with your precious little guns.

And then this. Don’t give me your made up, out of date, or irrelevant statistics. There have been enough studies. Not all fears (about guns) are real, but most of the accolades given to gun ownership are pipe dreams, or really, gunplay fantasies. When a conceal carry law was passed in Minnesota, anti-gun people feared more shootings, pro-gun people said we’d all be safer because when trouble happened, good guys would draw guns and stop it. Guess what. Neither happened. We had a major massacre here, in fact, just recently, a workplace shooting. No good guys drew their guns. So even if the number of shootings did not go up, the “good side” of allowing people to walk around slinging guns like they lived in the wild west did not happen either. But otherwise, the statistics generally show that more guns equals more bad things that happen with guns. If good things happen because of these guns, they are very small in number, very infrequent, occur at a very low rate, if at all.

To depict these relationships I’ve drawn two graphs. I don’t need to base them on data, because even though you will say “You are not a real skeptic if you make a graph with no data” (I dare you, say it in the comments), these two graphs summarize all that we know to be pretty much true. Here they are:

The more guns, the more bad shit that happens because of guns
If there is a positive effect of more guns, it is much less of an effect than the negative effects depicted above. This line, in real life, may in fact be flat.

Then this: The problem is the Second Amendment. With or without the Second Amendment, we could have sensible gun laws.Gun ownership could be legal, but guns could be better secured an less often used. But with the Second Amendment, the pro-gun lobby takes the most extreme stance possible because they argue that any limitations on gun use or ownership will lead to abrogation of all gun rights. I know lots and lots of gun owners who are happy with increased restrictions or increased security, but the NRA bought-and-paid-for elected officials and gun lobbyists don’t represent those reasonable people at all. They refuse to compromise. One of the false statistic you might have wanted to cite above before I told you to shut up is this: There have been lots of gun restrictions passed and they did not good. That is not true in two ways. First, increased restriction leads to fewer deaths, compared across states or across countries. Second, there have not been very restrictive gun laws passed, for the most part. I’ve seen gun nuts cite the assault weapons ban as having done nothing, without noting that it exists for a few years then expired.

Here’s the the thing. If gun ownership is OK, then lets make it ok, using laws. If gun owners really think that what they are doing is OK, then they should be able to do it without hiding behind an amendment that has nothing to do with Boys and their Toys or with Hunting, or even with addressing issues of crime, threats of rape, home invasion, etc. The Second Amendment does not limit restriction on guns so you can defend your home from criminals or go hunting. It is to defend your home from the British. If what you are doing with your guns is really OK, then why do you want to hide behind an atavistic centuries old out of date no longer relevant amendment?

So here’s what we do, OK? First, we get rid of the Second Amendment. Then, we talk. In the mean time, keep your fucking guns away from me and stop complaining. Society has reached a tipping point. We are tired of your bullying, your whining, your childish insistence that you are doing something important with your toys, because for the most part, you are not.

If you do something wrong, you should be fired or killed.

If you do something wrong, you should be fired or killed. Whether you should be fired or killed has nothing to do with what you did, but rather, the context in which you did it. If you do something wrong in the presence of a legal gun owner with a Conceal Carry permit and a loaded weapon, you simply need to die. If, on the other hand, you have a job and do something wrong, the only possible outcome is your being fired, no matter what it was you did. If the thing you do wrong happens in a context in which you have a job AND are in the presence of a gun-holding conceal-carry permitted person, then you should be fired, then shot.

Continue reading If you do something wrong, you should be fired or killed.