How I afford to do this

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Harsh Look At School Shootings

  One of my chief character flaws is my tendency to entertain silliness.  Whereas many of my peers would simply shake their heads at an asinine idea, I'll "go there."  I'm not sure that it's improved my life to any degree, but I set the expectation that statements should be supported with fact.

  Shortly after the VA Tech massacre, I visited an outspoken anti-gunner at the restaurant he co-owns.  Knowing my stance, he walked up and told me the following story:

  "I was talking to a customer yesterday who said that if someone had a [concealed handgun license], he could have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter.  I said 'that's great, crossfire!'"

  And yes, I had to go there.

  Let's set a baseline.  Any loss of human life is tragic.  That's not patented by the left or right; it's a conclusion indicative of our humanity.  It doesn't matter whether the cause of death was murder, car accident or a spider bite; death is something we all seek to avoid for us, our loved ones, and our community.

  Here's what we know:  The Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 people, plus himself.  Each victim was shot at least three times. 28 were shot in the head.  Several classrooms were attacked, with anywhere from 2-11 fatalities per room.  Massacre ended with shooter's suicide, even though he had over 200 rounds to spare.  He had a Walther p22 and a Glock 19.  Fully loaded, that totals 27 rounds with standard magazine capacities of 10+1 and 15+1 respectively.  Given the body count per room, the shooter probably went into each class, emptied both magazines and moved on to the next, reloading on the way to avoid interaction during this period of relative vulnerability.  It's also said that he would leave the room, reload, and re-enter.

  The fact of the matter is that we can choose to toss around buzz words like "crossfire," or we can actually examine possible outcomes.  The reality in hindsight is that even if the armed civilian shot and killed three innocents before putting the assailant down, while creating three tragedies in the process would be a success so long as the perpetrator was killed before he was 90% through his rampage.

  There's a point during school shootings, let's call it the "I'm screwed" point.  This is where the shooter realizes that his rampage is coming to an end and typically ends with the bad guys' suicide.  Crossfire, despite its inherent danger would logically expedite this moment.

  Let's be honest though.  We would probably never have any information to study on the impact of armed students.  The shooters are not looking for a fight.  They want a body count.  In all likelihood, these deranged miscreants would be stopped by the prospect of crossfire, rather than crossfire itself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Hi-Cap Debate

  Many unarmed Americans tend to follow the seemingly logical conclusions of the mainstream; to the conclusion that a citizen has no need for "high-capacity magazines," with the general consensus at a 10-round maximum. Some have heard the counterarguments of "If you take the guns from good people, then only criminals will have them."  This is absolutely true, albeit absolutely cliche.  Here are some things you might not have heard as to why a higher-capacity magazine for the law-abiding populace isn't such a bad idea.

  What I am about to say might be tough to read.  While it is never my intent to offend, facts from an objective analysis will inevitably come off as callous.  I would urge you all to remember the importance of knowing all facts, and discrediting any voice that calls an aspect of the debate untouchable.

  The first thing to grasp is the gravity of removing a right in this country.  Whereas many cultures consider their rights in terms of what the government allows them to do (or in some cases, what the government provides them), in the US we operate on the principle that our rights predate the government.  Therefore the government does not "allow" us to do anything.  The Bill of Rights is not about what we are given, but rather what we have that is to be preserved for the entirety of the American experiment.

  A principle flaw in this notion is the risk of stripping a right without getting a reward.  Aside from altering what all people may do in the hopes that it will impact what criminals can do, we have to concede that limiting the amount of rounds carried in one box does not in any way limit the number of rounds one can carry on his or her person.  Do a quick YouTube search under "speed reload" and tell me how many lives would be saved in any mass shooting if this simple action had to be performed after every ten rounds fired as opposed to every 15, 17, or 30.  Remember that this can be done in the course of target-acquisition, reducing or even eliminating the time gained (or lost, depending on perspective) when the magazine empties.

  When deconstructing the Fort Hood, Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook massacres, we know that there was an average of 2.76 rounds fired for every victim (killed and injured).  What we don't know is how many lives would be saved if there was a 2-second break with twice the regularity at Ft. Hood (FN Five-seveN), three-times in the case of a standard AR magazine or 4.5 times in the case of the Beta mag that James Holmes tried using that failed at less than half-way through in Aurora.

  Another important aspect of a shooting to remember is the psychological and physiological impacts that the situation will have on the victim.  The victim's blood will rush to the center of the body to protect his or her vital organs, stripping their hands of dexterity.  The sudden adrenaline dump accentuates the shakes.  Tunnel vision sets in as the body focuses only on the immediate threat.  

  The perpetrator on the other hand is often not subject to the same reaction.  Murderers' brains are seeking to gain, rather than the stop-loss efforts of the victims.  Their minds are geared for a slaughter, rather than a fight.  While the same prerogative is sought by both the murderer and the armed civilian, the murderer has the advantage of forethought.  The perpetrator also has a higher likelihood of being under the influence of a mind-altering substance.

 In short, the criminal has a clear advantage when it comes to the element of surprise and mental clarity (or at least not being hindered by fear mechanisms).  It's bad enough that the victims' lives are thrown into upheaval; I don't think it's too much to ask that the citizens are at least as well-equipped as the miscreants.