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Surge Summary: The steps modern society has taken thus far to stop mass murders don’t seem to be working – but we do know some simple steps that will probably do so if communities opted to consistently apply them.
by Rob Morse
Is there anything we can do to stop mass murderers in the United States?
That question comes to mind since President Biden recently claimed we need to massively disarm honest citizens in order to stop mass-murderers. Instead of accepting the President’s words at face value, I looked at what the experts say. There are many questions we might ask and lots of facts we can consider. We do many things today to stop violence in the US. There is more we could do, and this is what I found;
- We stop several thousand violent events every day.
- The United States is about average in its rate of mass murder.
- We stop more than half of the attempted mass murderers who attack where honest citizens are allowed to go armed.
- Most mass murderers go through a predictable process, and we ignored warning signs time after time.
- We should stop making the murderers into overnight celebrities, but that is hard to do.
A Walmart employee murdered several of his co-workers in Virginia. That happened a few weeks ago. President Biden then commented that,
“[T]he idea we still allow semi automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single, solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.”
The president’s comment sounds bizarre given what we know. We know that more than 5,000 ordinary US citizens use a firearm to protect themselves from a serious threat every day. Stopping that much assault, robbery, rape and murder every day sounds like an immense socially redeeming value to me. The president obviously disagrees.
That level of armed defense shouldn’t come as news. We’ve seen similar reports for the last few decades. The data is broadly consistent, including a report from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention that was commissioned by the Obama Administration. The data says that armed citizens save over a million lives a year.
All of us are biased, but we have good reason to be. We think that what we see in the news gives us a representative picture of what is happening in the world overall. It feels that way to us, but in truth there is a lot of news that goes unreported by our local news stations. Our news media covers a mass murder in the US for days but they only cover a mass murder that happened in another country for a few minutes. That distorts our thinking about where violence happens.
When we look at the rate of murder per 100,000 people, the US ranks 89th in a list of 230 countries. If we compare countries in Europe with each state in the US, then Norway, Washington DC, and Belgium lead the list with the greatest number of people killed in mass murder per million population. Florida, Germany and Italy are among the safest. When we look at the rate of mass murder events and the number of people killed by mass murder per 100,000 population, then the US ranks 66th and 56th out of the 101 countries reporting a mass murder between 1998 and 2017. Even when we look at the rare events where more than 15 people were killed, then the US is far safer than Africa, Australia, and Israel. We are safer than France and Mexico where honest citizens are disarmed. When it comes to mass murders, the US is average, but there are things we can do to become safer.
We have a mixed report card on mass murder but that isn’t from a lack of attention. We studied our schools after the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Experts concluded that time is critical. A mass murderer has all the time he wants to prepare so it is hard to stop mass murder before it happens. Once they start, the murderer will kill until he is stopped or until he gets tired of killing. If we wait until the police arrive, then the murderer will kill 35 to 45 people. Experts concluded that the solution must already be inside the school when the murderer attacks. We now have several million man-hours of experience with armed and trained school volunteers. We would know if they are a problem. So far, they look like a solution.
Schools might be a special case. When we look more broadly, we have seen over a hundred cases where ordinary citizens used their personal firearms to stop mass murderers in the US. In the last few years, over half of attempted mass murderers were stopped by ordinary armed citizens if the attack happened where ordinary citizens were allowed to be armed. As I reported earlier, armed good-guys save lives every day.
Mass murderers may be crazy, but they are able to read. These murderers are not afraid of dying but they are afraid of failing. They plan to kill as many people as they can. Mass murderers choose their targets with that in mind. They plan for a one-way shooting rather than to face a two-way gunfight. In the last several decades, 97.8 percent of mass murderers deliberately targeted places where ordinary citizens were disarmed by law. If the lopsided proportion of 98-percent doesn’t convince you, then please believe the murderer’s own words. We know the murderers targeted “gun-free” zones because we read the murderer’s e-mails and their journals.
For many of us, and for most politicians, it is hard to believe that we are at greater risk where we disarm honest people. The facts not only speak for themselves, they shout. Putting up a plastic “No Guns” sign failed to stop mass murderers and it disarmed their victims.
One obvious way to make us safer is to stop giving the murderers large undefended targets where they can kill at will.
“Gun-free” zones work for politicians even though these zones continue to get us killed. Politicians need to appear concerned and relevant. Since politicians pass laws, they pass more laws to create more “gun-free” zones. When all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail. Another ineffective law lets the politician issue a concerned press release saying that the world needs more of what he is selling. Unfortunately, “gun-free” zones create more unarmed victims. Politicians will stop making us more vulnerable when citizens and the press call them out on it.
I use quotes around the term “gun-free” zone since the only areas that are remotely gun-free are places like a prison; places with stone walls, locked doors, armed staff, and magnetometers. That doesn’t mean these places are safe since there are lots of weapons inside a prison.
Politicians need to appear needed. Besides the laws against murder, politicians have passed a number of laws that were supposed to stop mass murderers. We passed mandatory background check laws. Those checks look backward, and mass murder is not a long-term career path. Sometimes people who plan mass murder have a criminal record that makes them a prohibited person who can’t buy firearms legally. We’ve seen these mass murderers borrow firearms, steal firearms, and even commit murder to get the guns they wanted. They have all the time in the world.
We passed “red flag” laws where police officers, teachers, family, co-workers, and friends could ask the police to disarm someone who was a danger to themselves or to others. We’ve had concerned citizens call the FBI because they thought someone was going commit mass murder.
I don’t have good statistics on the number of attacks that were stopped by mandatory background check laws and red-flag laws. We do have the horrific examples where those laws failed. We also have the results from a real-world test since California had mandatory background check and red-flag laws for over a decade. Last year, California had the most mass murders of any state.
We’ve now seen family members who refused to swear out a red-flag report even when they knew their family member was dangerous. These witnesses feared that the law would not stop the dangerous person. They feared they would be targeted for revenge if they reported what they knew. Red-flag laws depend on a working system of justice. I’m not sure we have that anymore.
There are ways to stop mass-murders, and the first thing to do is to call them by their right name. They are celebrity-murders. The murderer wants to be known. They are willing to kill to get the notoriety they want. They are driven, and they would rather die than remain nameless. Their plan has worked time after time since our corporate news media gives these murderers a multi-million-dollar publicity campaign if they kill enough innocent victims.
We’ve been in a similar situation before and we solved them. We learned not to name the victims of sexual assault in order to allow the anonymous victim to testify in court. We learned not to name the teenage suicide victim so that other teenagers wouldn’t kill themselves simply to get their name and their face in the local paper.
That phenomenon is now called celebrity-suicide. Today, our news media has created a phenomenon of celebrity-murder. Politicians appear reluctant to stop it. Fortunately, we can stop it, particularly with the help of advertising sponsors and social media.
We know what doesn’t work. We see example after example where a government employee failed to stop a mass murderer. That can be a call screener at an FBI call center as in the attack at the Pulse nightclub. It can be a School Resource Officer who sat outside the school building while children were being shot in Parkland, Florida. We saw over a hundred law enforcement officers standing outside an unlocked classroom door in the attack at Uvalde, Texas. We saw school officials return an armed student to class in the attack in Highland, Michigan. I have little hope that bureaucrats will do better.
Fortunately, we can. We can stop giving mass murderers easy targets filled with disarmed victims. We can stop making mass murderers into instant celebrities. The solution is in our hands. Now, what will you do?
I gave you 1600 words. Please leave a rating, a comment, and share them with a friend. RM
The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.
Originally posted here .
Image: Adapted from: Montage created by me, JoleBruh – File:Lasvegassignflowers.jpg – Rmvisuals (CC-BY-SA 4.0)File:Gov. Malloy visits Pulse nightclub memorial in Orlando (28185906866).jpg – Dannel Malloy (CC-BY 2.0)File:Virginia Tech massacre memorial flowers.jpg – Ross Catrow (CC-BY-SA 2.0)File:Sandy Hook Memorial 12-26.jpg – Bbjeter (CC-BY-SA 3.0)File:El Paso Shooting Makeshift Memorial 10.jpg – TomStar81 (CC-BY-SA 4.0), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=121128926
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