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.

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