Here is the NY Times reacting to the NRA ideas on school shootings:
Mr. LaPierre offered no support for any of the proposals made in the last week, like banning assault rifles or limiting high-capacity ammunition...
Geez, I thought the idea was to ban high magazine clips. Well, layer upon layer of editor and fact-checker can't be wrong.
SPECIOUS AND ARGUABLY FALSE: The Times editors blast the NRA and all its works, but this argument troubles me:
In the 62 mass-murder cases over 30 years examined recently by the magazine Mother Jones, not one was stopped by an armed civilian.
Let's link to the fine effort by Mother Jones and note this point - a "mass shooting" by their definition requires four or more victims. Which is fair enough, but it means that if an incident is nipped more or less in the bud it never qualifies as a mass shooting.
Which takes us to the ambiguous circumstances in the Clackamas Mall just a few days ago. A gunman killed two people and then himself; a concealed handgun carrier eyeballed him, claims the gunman saw him and his weapon, and shot himself sortly thereater.
I haven't tracked down a report (based, for example, on mall videotapes) confirming or refuting that. But even if the concealed carrier was the hero, he wouldn't break into the Mother Jones data base since he succeeded too early for the gunman to achieve "mass killer" status.
And Mother Jones includes this, which I guessed the Times editors missed:
There was one case in our data set in which an armed civilian played a role. Back in 1982, a man opened fire at a welding shop in Miami, killing eight and wounding three others before fleeing on a bicycle. A civilian who worked nearby pursued the assailant in a car, shooting and killing him a few blocks away (in addition to ramming him with the car). Florida authorities, led by then-state attorney Janet Reno, concluded that the vigilante had used force justifiably, and speculated that he may have prevented additional killings. But even if we were to count that case as a successful armed intervention by a civilian, it would account for just 1.6 percent of the mass shootings in the last 30 years.
Again, its ambiguous. Mother Jones does cite other incidents of civilian involvement that go awry. But among their links is this from Mother Jones describing the problem with a "four dead victims" rule:
Four years ago today, Dunklin was attending a Sunday morning program at his local church when a man entered and opened fire with a shotgun, fatally wounding two people and injuring seven others.
...The violence stopped short of even worse carnage thanks to a little luck and the heroic intervention of several church goers among the crowd of about 200.
So that is counted as neither a mass shooting nor a successful civilian intervention (the shooter was tackled when his gun jammed.) I am not sure the papeer of record diligently availed themselves of the relevant research, despite citing it.
As to the merits of the NRA proposal, the Times report was that Mr. LaPierre was emphasizing retired cops and reservists as the primary source of civilian volunteers. That sounds crazy to the Times, but not to me.
Well, I am firmly muddled on this. If schools were as safe as Fort Knox, the odds are that crafty yet crazy killers would simply switch targets. If killing school kids is the goal, maybe he would take a page from "Dirty Harry" and hijack a school bus. Or he could target a mall, or a church, or an old-age home.
Then again, maybe we feel a greater societal obligation to kids in a public school than to folks headed off to a privately owned mall. All that said, the solution(s) we adopt will depend on how the problem is defined. Putting armed guards in schools might (might!) reduce school shootings, but that reduction might occur simply because crazy (but carefully planning) killers pick easier targets. I am not sure how much of a win for the good guys that really is.
Meanwhile, we continue to hope that the newspaper calling for a limitation on high capacity ammunition can help contribute to building a factual foundation for this national debate.