The NRA Says A Gun Protects You From Harm. The FBI And The Police Disagree.

This week an official report commissioned by the Aurora City Government about the July 20, 2012 theater shooting was released.  The report was the work of the System Planning Corporation, whose TriData Division conducts detailed reviews of responses to emergency situations, including the mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech and the University of Illinois.  So they know what they’re doing and the 188-page report is a serious and sober assessment of what was done right at Aurora and what was done wrong.

What was done right, first and foremost, was the immediate, quick and effective response of cops and firefighters to an emergency situation that can only be described as utter chaos. The first police unit arrived at the scene within two minutes after the first 911 call, by which time hundreds of theater-goers were milling around, many bloodied and in shock, others wounded, others worried about friends whom they couldn’t find and, worst of all, nobody knowing whether the shooter or shooters were still inside the building or were moving from one theater to another.

aurora                The good news is that multiple police units arrived quickly at the scene, began looking for the gunman and assisting or controlling the panic-stricken crowd.  Police units also made what was termed an “unprecedented” decision to transport shooting victims to hospitals in their own cars, rather than waiting for ambulances or other medical units to take charge.  According to the report, had police cars “not been used for rapid transport of seriously wounded victims, more likely would have died.”

The bad news was that there was no unified command or communication system linking the police to fire/EMS personnel.  As a result, there was confusion in moving ambulances closer to victims, as well as assessing the risk to EMS personnel who needed to get into the theater in order to deal with victims who were still inside.  The coordination between agencies was not resolved until nearly an hour passed after the shooting began, and numerous communications between first-responders were either lost or misunderstood.  What probably saved additional lives was the fact that one of the first police officers to gain entrance to the theater was trained as a paramedic and thus able to make triage decisions until the situation was brought under control.

The report also contains suggestions for managers of theaters and other places where large groups are gathered and shootings might occur.  Chief among these recommendations is what the report calls public education, “inform the public of appropriate measures if caught in a shooting situation.”  And the appropriate responses to a shooter are to flee, hide, and if neither is possible, to attack. Physical resistance to shooters, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, reflects a recognition that shooters now use high-capacity, semi-automatic weapons that may inflict severe tolls even if police respond, as in Aurora, in under minutes from the first shots being fired.

The flee, hide, fight strategy, which is best described in a video produced by the Houston PD, doesn’t take into account the ability of armed citizens to resist an active shooter by pulling out and using their own guns. And we all know what Wayne LaPierre says, “only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  Except there’s only one little problem.  It’s not true.  The recent FBI report on active shootings disclosed that in 160 incidents between 2000 and 2013, only one shooting was stopped by a civilian armed with a gun.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not in any way opposed to using a gun or anything else for genuine, self-defense.  But I am opposed to the shameless pandering of the NRA and other gun promoters to the childish fantasy that if you walk around with a gun, that you’re protecting yourself or others from harm.  SWAT teams and other special response units train constantly – hundreds of hours – making themselves ready to use guns.  Do you really think that sitting on your duff watching a video amounts to the same thing?




Dumb, Dumber And Dumbest: The NRA Responds To The FBI Report.

I used to think that the dumbest pro-gun writer was Emily Miller of The Washington Times, with John Lott running a close second.  But I think top honors should now go to the NRA staffer who wrote the organization’s response to the new FBI report on “active shootings,”  which covers 160 multiple-shooting incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013.  What the report shows is that the annual number of such shootings has doubled in the last seven years, and the number of victims injured in such shootings has tripled over the same period.

Actually, the NRA response wasn’t directed at the FBI per se, because the last thing the NRA is going to do is challenge the findings of a law-enforcement agency which also is responsible for approving every gun purchased by all federally-licensed gun dealers.  Rather, the NRA went after the manner in which The New York Times commented on the report because, after all, you can always rile up NRA members by mentioning The New York Times.

NYT                And what did The Times report say?  It said what the FBI said, namely, that the number and impact of multiple shootings has increased dramatically over the last seven years.  And how did the NRA respond to this information?  The writer did what NRA writers usually do when someone, anyone, makes a statement that doesn’t conform to their point of view.  The writer simply said things that are not true.  I’m not saying the writer lied; I’m saying he’s probably too dumb to know the difference between fact and non-fact.  For example.

The NRA response claims that the FBI’s numbers are inflated because “active shootings” involved three or more persons who died from their wounds, whereas the more traditional (and lower) “mass shootings” always involved at least four deaths.  But the FBI report specifically stated that the victim count in “active shootings” did not include instances in which the shooter also took his/her own life, which basically accounts for the overall difference in shootings.

The NRA, desperate to show that this report doesn’t contain any bad news for the gun community, also cited a report in USA Today which claimed that between 2006 and 2013 there were 61 mass murders claiming 286 victims in which the perpetrator used a knife, a club or some weapon other than a gun, whereas the FBI claimed that there were only 34 “mass murders” (minimum of four victims, including the shooter) in which the killer used a gun.  But the USA Today report defined a mass murder as any criminal event in which four or more persons were killed, even if these killings took place over several days or even weeks at a time.  The whole point of the FBI report was to examine episodes during which the events that took place were continuous because the whole point was to determine the correct response that should be made by law enforcement and civilians while the murders were taking place.

In other words, the NRA used a definition of multiple murders that simply can’t be compared to the definition used by the FBI in their new report.  And the reason that the NRA deliberately twisted the evidence was to obscure the most important finding of the report, namely, that in 160 multiple shootings, nearly all of which took place in public space, the number of such episodes that ended with an armed civilian using a gun was exactly – one!  The idea that good guys stop bad guys with guns is simply not true and the FBI report shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not true.  No wonder the NRA would publish such a dumb response to this report.

But here’s the real problem.  The gun control community will discuss this report at length but the discussion will remain largely among themselves.  The dishonest statements by the NRA were sent to me and to the other 4-5 million members of the NRA.  How do you reach that group with much-needed correctives for what the NRA wants them to believe is the truth?  That problem remains to be solved.


Yo Colion – How About A Few Facts?

Now that the second episode of Colion Noir’s new talk show on the NRA Freestyle media network has once again made even the pro-gun bloggers call him out for being about as boring as a rerun of a 1960’s afternoon soap opera, the NRA’s self-professed expert on anything and everything having to do with guns has released a new video in which he gets it all wrong on the issue of gun-free zones.   And just to make sure that he squeezes the maximum number of non-sequiturs and erroneous statements into a three-minute video, Colion doesn’t just talk about gun-free zones, but doubles down on the question of multiple shootings because, according to him, it’s “multiple shooters” who are attracted to victims in places where people aren’t supposed to bring guns.

Noir begins his rant by explaining the mentality of the mass shooter to the rest of us in a tone that leaves no doubt that he really has it all figured out.  Let’s put aside the fact that the official report issued by the Connecticut State Police a year after the Sandy Hook massacre could not find an explanation for Adam Lanza’s rampage, nor has Jared Loughner ever really explained what drove him to shoot Representative Gabby Giffords and nineteen other people in an attack on January 11, 2011. But not to worry because Colion knows that mass shooters are “pathetically non-confrontational” and pick their targets the way sexual predators pick their victims.  A gun-free zone is to a mass shooter, Colion lectures, like a pre-teen chat room is to a sexual predator.  And the answer, of course, is to get rid of gun-free zones and let the “good guys” (that’s Colion, you and me with our concealed-carry permits) go anywhere and be ready to thwart a multiple shooter who otherwise will mow everyone down.

noir                Last year Mike Bloomberg’s group issued a comprehensive study of mass shootings covering 2009 through 2013. Using a combination of law enforcement and media reports, the researchers were able to identify 43 mass shootings, using the FBI’s definition of ‘mass shooting’ as any incident in which at least four persons were killed by someone using a gun.  Of these shootings, 40% arose out of domestic disputes, and at least 6 of the 17 shooters had been named in previous domestic assaults.  In only 10% of the shootings was there evidence of prior contact between the perpetrator and a mental health professional, although friends and relatives of other shooters expressed some awareness that mental health issues might have precipitated the attacks.

Now let’s get down to Colion’s real nitty-gritty, the issue of multiple shootings in gun-free zones.  The report states that, at maximum, one-third of these shootings took place in what might have been considered gun-free zones.  But other than 4 school shootings, the Aurora movie theater and Fort Hood (the report was released before the Navy Yard shooting), it’s not clear that any of the other 37 mass shootings took place in specific gun-free zones, although the researchers probably assumed that the 2 multiple shootings in Chicago and 1 in DC also took place in gun-free zones.  And how many of the 43 multiple shootings ended with a “good guy” pulling out a gun?  None.  In every incident except one, the shooter either shot himself or was arrested by the police.  The bystanders who subdued Jared Loughner after he shot Representative Giffords were unarmed.

I don’t see anything wrong with Colion Noir or anyone else going on YouTube and expressing their opinions about this or that.  But perhaps Colion’s new foray into media entertainment on the NRA Freestyle network would be better received if he would stop trying so hard to enlighten us with his distorted version of the facts.  You’re not just boring your audience, Colion, with a delivery that runs from the un-cool to the bland, you’re also insulting us by pretending that you understand things about guns and shooting that simply are not true.