guns

Thank You, Violence Policy Center, For Helping Prove Concealed Carry Permit Holders Are Safe!

I am not a member of the NRA, in part because I don’t want my real name on a list the government can use against me (paranoid much? Yup). But I saw a TV ad titled “Freedom’s Safest Place” they produced a while back that has added urgency after the December 2 attacks in San Bernardino. It is right on the money in calling for a nation-wide concealed carry law.

The ad’s text (aimed at Congress critters) appears prophetic:

You know the threat is real.

You sit in meetings with advisors and operatives who tell you there could be Islamic sleeper cells in every major American community.

You know the southern border is a welcome mat for terrorists to enter our towns and neighborhoods at will.

You know about their plots to kill us in our shopping malls, our sports stadiums and our office buildings.

You won your office by talking like a champion of freedom. Now it’s time to act like one.

Pass a national right to carry law that guarantees my constitutional right to defend myself, my family and my fellow Americans anywhere inside our borders … and make sure the enemies of freedom know the power of freedom.

No law-abiding American should be forced to face evil with empty hands.

I’m the National Rifle Association of America.

And I’m freedom’s safest place.

Facts are facts. As these charts show (based upon data from the Centers for Disease Control and Congressional Research Services), as both the gun ownership rates and number of firearms in the U.S. have gone up between 1993 and 2013, the gun homicide rates have gone down. How can that be?

Fine, my friends on the Left say, but those gunslingers who go around with their concealed carry permits (CCPs) and Glocks and Smiths and “multi-automatic round weapons” under their shirts are surely killing people right and left. Can you just imagine these rednecks getting liquored up in a bar and shooting somebody? It must happen all the time!

I’m no statistician, but the folks at the Violence Policy Center are. You know they know their guns when they talk about “assault weapons.” They list 62 homicides in 2013 committed by folks with concealed carry permits (CCPs), including the DC Navy Yard massacre where 13 were killed. Sixty-two gun deaths from CCP holders in 2013.  That’s pretty bad.  That’s after I went through and took out all the accidental deaths and suicides, and homicides where the weapon was not listed (but the person did have a CCP). So there could be up to 5 more I didn’t count.

But that is out of 11,208 gun homicides in 2013. That’s 62 out of 11,208 gun homicides that were committed by concealed permit holders, or just .56% of total gun homicides that were committed by CCP holders. It’s quite possible that some other easily-identifiable groups might comprise a higher percentage of known perpetrators of gun crimes. Maybe left-handed barbers. Or perhaps gang members. I’m just spit balling here.

There were approximately 8 million concealed carry permit holders in 2013. About 34% of the population owns guns, so in 2013 that meant about 107,500,000 people owned guns.

Let’s see. Carry the two. Use the other hand because I just ran out of fingers on this one…

The Violence Policy Center evidence points to the opposite conclusion of their scary rhetoric (“[CCP holders] instead expose the public to more danger, ongoing research from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) finds”). In actuality, concealed carry permit holders commit substantially fewer gun homicides per capita than the general gun-owning public.

Who would have ever thought that people who had to go through a background check and then training in firearm use and safety might have a better safety record than folks who just bought a gun? Or that people who accepted the responsibility for carrying a deadly weapon and had the maturity and respect for the law to go through the permit process (rather than just carry the weapon unlawfully) would actually demonstrate a higher level of self-control and restraint?  I sure would never have seen that coming.  As those legal eagles say, no indicia of reliability there.

Unless my math is wrong (a distinct possibility; as we used to say in law school, if we could do math, we wouldn’t be trying to become lawyers), concealed carry permit holders accounted for 1 gun (gub? Obligatory Woody Allen reference) homicide per 129,032 CCP holder in 2013 (62/8 million). Other gun owners accounted for 1 gun homicide per 8,927 gun owners (11,146/99.5 million). Of course, those “other” gun owners include gang members and criminals who commit the vast majority of the gun homicides, so that figure is misleading. A majority of those gun homicides occur in Democrat-run cities like Chicago, East LA, and Washington, DC which have the tightest gun control laws.

Another way of looking at it, a CCP holder is 14 times less likely to kill someone with a gun than a person without a CCP.

So no, more concealed carry permits by licensed, trained and vetted citizens will not lead to bloodbaths in the streets. It hasn’t in the past. And don’t we all trust our government to vet people thoroughly? If we cannot trust our government to vet citizens who have been living and having every move since birth recorded here, how can we possibly trust the same agencies to clear folks from Syria with dubious papers who seek refugee status?

But that is another story.

In our new reality (the new, new reality, the post-September 11, post-December 2 reality) we know that no place is safe. No town is too large or too small. No venue too innocent. It can be a Paris café or a holiday party for office workers. It can be a subway where a man starts slashing with a knife or a busy street where a man starts hacking with a hatchet.

The often-stated fear of those on the Left of concealed guns on the persons of civilians is simply not supported by facts. Robert Heinlein, in Beyond This Horizon, believed just the opposite. His thinking was, “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” The facts, as stated by the anti-gun group Violence Policy Center (which can be counted on to make the best case possible against concealed carry permit holders), show that CCP holders have a much better safety record than gun owners in general.

If this holds true with expanded adoption of a national concealed carry permit system, along with safety, defense and tactical combat training, then every community across the nation could not only feel safer but actually be safer. It would be the simplest way Congress could empower citizens, with a simple bill and vote. No thousand-page monstrosity no one would read but a single page of clear writing would suffice. Of course Congress would muck it up with all kinds of needless rhetoric, verbiage, riders, guidelines, unnecessary bureaucracy and cost, but if that is what it would take that would be acceptable.

It wouldn’t require billions spent on intelligence gathering, or invasions of civil liberties.  It wouldn’t require years of debate, environmental impact studies, and construction of border fences.  Citizens would take the task upon themselves, pay for it themselves, train themselves, arm themselves.  When they gathered together at ranges and afterwards they might form social interactions that would reassure them and ease their fears that their families and communities were safe because they had developed, for wont of a better term, a well regulated militia.

Then when the next Islamic terrorist starts crying “Allahu Akbar!” the first thing they will hear is the racking of a dozen pistols and the last thing they will hear is the sound of thunder.

When You Take the Gun, Take the Ammo: or, Jack Bauer’s Curse Revisited

One thing that drove my dad crazy was when the good guy escaped from the bad guy in a movie or TV show and didn’t take the bad guy’s gun after knocking him out.

I realize it was a plot device (can’t have the good guy armed, to make it more exciting), but it really is an example of lazy writing. You can keep the danger level artificially high by making the hero artificially vulnerable. In my mind it just makes the hero artificially stupid. Colonel John Casey would never do that.

My son and I are watching the 24 series in sequence (we are just about to start season seven). Jack Bauer, the Kiefer Sutherland character, is as hard-boiled and efficient as trained agents come. He generally picks up weapons as he goes along (as any kid who has ever played a shooter game knows to do these days), but he rarely searches the body for extra ammo clips. When you are fighting your way through a mob of well-armed bad guys that is more than foolish, and I cannot believe a well-trained agent would not pause the few extra seconds to strip the body of everything useful (clips, cell phone, radio, etc.). The only time the writers have this done is if they have an immediate need for something on the body.

Yet 24 is supposed to be the ultimate in realism. It is supposed to take place in real time. Even the commercial breaks happen in real time – when you come back from commercials, 3 to 5 minutes have ticked away on the clock. We joke that some day when we come back we will hear someone say, “Sorry, Jack, LA is gone! You missed it!”

So Jack should do everything by the book, and take stuff that he doesn’t need for the plot twists. Just like a real agent would do, never knowing what would come in handy.

Perhaps one reason Jack doesn’t act like a trained agent or military vet in the circumstances is that, unlike many series, 24 does not appear to have a dedicated armorer from the credits (just prop masters who, certainly, have to know their way around guns). They also do not credit military or intelligence technical advisors (other than a Navy advisor presumably for water scenes). While civilians may well understand gun safety and proper handling of weapons, squibs, etc., they are not conditioned to think about ammo loadout for combat teams or how quickly weapons burn through rounds in a firefight. Guns run out of rounds when writers find it convenient.  Quite possibly the closest the writers and costume designers have come to real combat gear is Arnold suiting up in Commando

My son gets angry with me for yelling at the TV, “Grab the mags, grab the mags!”  “He can’t hear you,” he calmly says.  “Maybe he can,” I mutter.

Now, the rest of this post takes a different turn, but still ranting on 24 (which we do enjoy, even if it makes the military tend to look like warmongering fools with no sense of consequences). If you Google (I prefer Bing, because they are a little less obsequious to China) “curse of Jack Bauer” you generally get a reference to a little speech by Defense Secretary James Heller (William Devane) in season six. Jack used to work for Heller, and fell in love with Heller’s daughter, Audrey Raines (Kim Raver). Heller is telling Jack to never see Audrey again.

What follows is a major spoiler for the series so far, so if you don’t want major events spoiled, read no further. You have been warned! Dun dun dun dunnnnn.

My son and I enlarged upon this conversation a bit.  We both checked the web to see if we could find anything like it but couldn’t, so here’s our contribution.

Jack: “What do you mean I’m cursed?”

Heller: “Well, let’s see. There was your wife, Teri? Remember her? You brought her here, to CTU, safest place in Los Angeles. She was murdered in the basement, just below us here. That was after she had been kidnapped and raped that day.”

Jack: “Uh, yeah.”

Heller: “And your daughter, Kim. She was kidnapped. Twice, or maybe three times, I believe. Arrested. Had to kill one… no, two men. One she shot in the back. The other one she wounded, but you told her over the phone to just keep shooting until he was dead. Remember that?”

Jack clears his throat: “Yes.”

Heller: “Lovely girl. How is Kim? ”

Jack: “She hasn’t spoken to me in years.”

Heller: “Ah. And Nina. Your lover. That’s right, she’s the one who killed your wife, Teri. Just downstairs here in CTU. Turned out to be a double agent. And then you murdered her, too. Just downstairs here in CTU, safest place in LA.”

Jack: silence

Heller: “You were originally at odds with George Mason from Division, but then became friends with him. I forget. What happened to him?”

Jack: Mumble mumble.

Heller: “What was that?”

Jack: “He was dying of radiation poisoning so he blew himself up in a nuclear explosion in the Mojave Desert.”

Heller: “Yes. That was it.”

Heller: “I remember a nice chubby intelligence analyst at CTU who was always secretly helping you against orders. Edgar Stiles, I think his name was. Brilliant chap, but a bit socially challenged. But always there for you. How’s he doing?”

Jack: “He got caught in a nerve gas attack on CTU. I watched him die. I couldn’t do anything to help.”

Heller: “Died? Here in CTU, safest place in LA? Sorry. And your good friends Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler. Weren’t they a lovely couple? And they went through so much to be together! Married, separated, then reunited and out of this ugly business to carry on their lives together after risking their careers and lives for you and each other many times! Let’s see…. She was blown up by a car bomb to try to frame you and Tony was killed by Christopher Henderson, the man who recruited you into CTU and trained you, correct? Wasn’t Tony killed right here in CTU, safest place in LA?”

Jack: “I get your point about CTU.”

Heller: “And what happened to Henderson, who was more than a father to you than your father was?”

Jack: “I executed him.”

Heller: “Speaking of your family, how is your brother? Wait, I know. Didn’t you have him tortured? And didn’t you find out he had ordered the assignation of President Palmer and framed you for it, and plotted your murder? And didn’t your father kill him? So how’s your father? No, no, I have this one, too. After your nephew, who is all of fifteen and following the family tradition, shot him, you left your father to die in an air strike on an oil rig in the Pacific. Good times, good times.”

Heller: “President David Palmer. Your good friend. You saved his life, he saved your life. You helped him out of several major crises, and he was your staunch supporter. His assassination was a terrible thing. And they tried to blame it on you. Your brother was behind that, and your father. Always that Bauer connection.”

Heller: “Finally, Bill Buchanan. Another Division suit who came to CTU, took you a while to warm up to him, then you were great friends and allies. Worked together well, had each other’s backs. He was in and out of CTU, and you worked together even when he was officially off the books and under investigation. Now he has been forced to retire along with his wife by the Vice President himself, neither of them ever to work again. All because of Jack Bauer.”

Heller: “Which leads me to my daughter, Audrey. Jack, every person who has loved you or tried to help you or befriended you has turned up dead, retired, or not speaking to you. My daughter is now in a vegetative state. If you come back into her life she will probably end up dead. Do her a favor. Stay away.”

My guess is he won’t. And my guess (not having seen past season six) is she will die when he comes back into her life. But who am I to see the future?

And Jack – take the extra few seconds to pick up any extra clips and the bad guy’s cell phone after you kill them.  You never know when they will come in handy.