Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Thought Experiment on Preventing Violence

In their arguments to support measures limiting the capacity of magazines used in guns, gun grabbers have engaged in "thought experiments" where they imagine what might have happened if the capacity of Adam Lanza's guns had been 8 bullets instead of 30.  It might, they argued, have saved lives as he had to stop and reload.  So here is another thought experiment.   Let us suppose that (horror of horrors) the principal of the Sandy Hook elementary school had been trained in the use of firearms and had a gun in a gunsafe on the wall of her office.  (But no, that could never happen because she is a woman who is incapable of firing a gun!) But, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose that, though a woman, the principal, ever zealous for the protection of the students in her care, had spent the time and money to learn how to fire a gun and how to store it properly.

Her gunsafe (with that many children around she should keep the gun in locked place that  could not be accessed by others-- and a gunsafe is really just an ordinary safe such as you might use to protect valuables except smaller) might have been equipped with both a touchpad and a fingerprint opening device to assure that she wouldn't have to fumble with a key when she needed a gun.  (I have, parenthetically, become quite enamored of such devices.  I use the fingerprint scanner to sign in at my gym and I have a touch pad lock on my front door).  Her gun is in the safe, loaded and ready to use but protected from those who might want to use it improperly by the aforementioned locks.

She sees Adam Lanza breaking the glass in the front door on the video.  (Several accounts say the school had a live video on the front door and that Lanza broke the glass to get in).  She sees what might be a gun.  She takes her gun out of the safe and walks calmly down the hall to meet him.  She points her gun at Adam and says "put down the guns Adam or I will have to shoot you.".  What happens next depends on Adam.  Either he puts down the guns and he waits as she calls the police to take him into custody or he doesn't put down the gun but raises it to shoot her.  She shoots first.  Total one dead, Adam Lanza.

The number of women buying guns is on the rise, according to a number of studies.  People used to refer to guns as "equalizers" for a reason.  A small woman with a gun is more than equal to a big man without one and she is at least equal to a man with a gun. The image of women, especially teachers, with guns is upsetting to a lot of people. Particularly at the elementary school level, we think of teachers as mother figures.  And mother figures with guns can be frightening.  Of course, back in the old frontier days, I suspect most women in the west knew how to shoot a rifle at least.  Danger could come to you and yours from wild animals as well as wild people.  I don't have a gun.  It is a huge responsibility that I don't want to deal with right now. But if I were in a situation where protection was needed, I would acquire one and learn how to shoot it and store it safely.  The idea that educators might want to arm themselves in the event of an Adam Lanza is neither crazy nor outrageous.  It is realistic.  I am confident that properly trained teachers, whether male or female, are quite capable of doing what is necessary to protect their students and if that includes shooting an attacker, so be it.  No normal person wants to kill anyone, but sometimes our choices are pretty limited.

The science is that states that have concealed carry permit laws have lower rates of violent crime than states that have strict gun control that makes getting a concealed carry permit difficult or impossible.  

Here, of course, is the big problem with my thought experiment.  It is pretty much illegal for anyone other than a sworn peace officer to carry a gun on school grounds.  That is a federal law which has been imposed on the states as well.  The law would have to be changed to allow the principal to have the gun on school grounds.  Some states are getting around this problem by swearing in the teachers who are willing to carry a gun as peace officers.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about a concept he called "cheap grace".  It is seeking the grace of God without sacrifice.  Bonhoeffer was no piker in that regard.  He, a German who could see the Nazis for the monsters that they were, had left Germany and was safely in New York when he decided to return because he felt God called him to be in Germany working to bring God's love to Germans.  The Nazis arrested him and hung him shortly before Germany was occupied by the allies.  The cost of discipleship for him was his life.  I am not one to claim I am willing to give my life for Christ.  I am a feckless fearful sinner sort of an old lady who hopes devoutly that she will never be asked to do so. But the concept of cheap grace applies elsewhere as well.

One thing that really gets my dander up, makes me really angry in a Jesus confronting the moneylenders way, is people who CLAIM to be doing something for others when all they are doing is preening their self righteousness in front of others.  There is a lot of that going on right now and most of it, so far as I can see, is on the left.  It is because the display of their self righteous peacock feathers is their real purpose and not actually helping one single living soul that most leftists will not engage in any rational discussion about any of their programs.  Their idea of rational discussion is "you are a racist sexist homophobe who is ridiculously stupid".  Please.  That's just name calling not rational argument.  If they are so smart, why are they incapable of articulating reasons to support their policies that go beyond, "I want it that way, it makes me feel good.".

So, very often we are treated to shows in which large groups of preening peacocks get together and parade around showing their self righteous feathers to the rest of us.  "Look at how virtuous I am" their behavior screams.    The latest show to provoke my ire is a so called pilgrimage to the border fence that separates California from Mexico.  This is an activity sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.  That I am a member of that Diocese may explain why I am especially provoked.  

So what is the purpose of this show, other than to demonstrate what wonderful caring people the pilgrims are?  Supposedly to achieve "just" immigration laws.  There is, I believe purposefully, no specification of what about our immigration laws which are enormously more liberal than Mexico's as an example, that is unjust.

Beef Number One:  If immigration is the subject, then this "pilgrimage" is enormously racist.  Yes racist. About 30 percent of the people in this country illegally are NOT OF MEXICAN origin. Or from any country south of the border.  Many are here from Canada, China, India and other countries.  Those illegal immigrants tend to be people who come here on a tourist visa and overstay their visas. They are just as illegal, and, while not a majority are a substantial minority.  Illegal is illegal whether you are here from Canada or from Mexico.

Beef Number two:  What, exactly, is accomplished by this pilgrimage?  What, of any substance actually helps anyone?  Thousands of churches and other groups from the United States take food and money to poor people in Mexico every year.  Those people may not be accomplishing much, but they are accomplishing more than is achieved by Bishop Jardine and her group.

Beef # 3:  By focusing on immigration policies these preening peacocks who constantly campaign against the idea that the United States is possibly full of people who actually have good intentions and do good things, they avoid asking the rather obvious question as to why there are so many really truly poor people in Mexico.  These preening peacocks are often people who want to impose here in the United States, the very same policies and governmental practices which contribute to the ongoing poverty in other countries.  Socialist theories always sound just and fair to people who have not experienced the economy in practice.  But they create poverty and squalor.  They rob people of hope.  This kind of peacock parade action takes the focus away from the discussion that needs to be had-- how societies can be changed so that there is less poverty and want around the world, not just in the United States and other first world countries.  The preening peacocks don't like that discussion because it focusses on the reality that Capitalism and business create wealth.

Hernando de Soto, in his book, the Mystery of Capital, lays bare what needs to change.  But these paraders don't want that kind of change.  They advocate a kind of return to the feudal system where supposedly benevolent betters are in charge and distribute the community wealth to whom they see fit.  Those who have studied history know how that turns out.  There is a wealthy elite and most people are poor, enslaved and impoverished.  It was the rise of middle class bourgeoisie business people that brought most people to a comfortable level of living.