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Old August 1, 2012, 08:31 AM   #1
Botswana
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Perspective on mass shootings

This was a pretty macabre exercise, but with all the controversy around high capacity magazines, bulk ammo purchases, banning "assault weapons" I started to think about other mass shootings.

I grew up in Austin, Texas. Home of a mass shooting of its own. In 1966, Charles Whitman killed 16 people and wounded 32 others. Our family had not yet arrived in Texas when this happened, but when we arrived in the early 80's there were still some effects being felt from an event that took place over a decade from our arrival.

Here were the weapons used in the massacre -
Remington 700 ADL with 4x Scope (6mm)
M1 Carbine
Remington M141 (.35-caliber)
Sears semi-automatic shotgun, sawed down (12 gauge)
S&W M19 (.357 Magnum)
Luger P08 (9mm)
Galesi-Brescia (.25 ACP)

There is one weapon listed that holds more than 10 rounds. However, most of the killings were committed with the Remington 700 or the shotgun. The first two victims were actually stabbed to death despite Whitman's access to firearms.

What really stands out is that the main weapon perceived here is essentially just a standard hunting rifle. Whether or not it was responsible for most of the killings wasn't available to me, but I think of it in a similar light to the Aurora shooting where an AR-15 style rifle was focused on despite likely being responsible for only a small number of deaths or wounds. The reason I think the Remington 700 stands out is because of the whole "Clocktower Sniper" image doesn't exactly invoke someone sniping away with a .25 caliber pistol.

No measure of gun control being proposed today would have stopped Whitman's rampage. Would it have mattered if the M1 Carbine could only hold 10 rounds? The modifications to the shotgun, which for all I know were legal at the time, were done to a weapon intended for use in an illegal act. Not that I'm for sawed off shotguns or anything, but whether or not they were illegal seems pretty irrelevant. If they were illegal, Whitman modified the shotgun anyway and still committed multiple murders with it.

Mass murder is a horrific event. I think that is something anyone can agree on. Anything tacked on to these events is just a naked political agenda. Gun control does not attack root causes, does not address preventative measures, and ultimately only affects people who are not going to go on a mass shooting rampage. The politicians jumping on the bandwagon after the latest event screaming "Something must be done!" are the most cynical creatures I have ever seen. I suppose all they know how to do is pass laws, as though passing a law actually accomplishes something.
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Old August 1, 2012, 08:43 AM   #2
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I have a sneaking suspicion that you're preaching to the choir around here. With that said, you might consider editing your post into a letter or email and sending it off to your congressfolks, as it makes very good points.
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Old August 1, 2012, 08:52 AM   #3
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Naw, I'm ganking your form letter and sending it off.

I live in Texas, so it's probably not a big issue but it might be a nice reminder that some of their constituents don't appreciate the noise and blather.

It might be mostly preaching to the choir, but there has been a surprising number of people even here who have jumped on the "Something must be done!" bandwagon.

Knee jerk reactions are not going to prevent the next mass killing. Yes, the next one. This will happen again.
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Old August 1, 2012, 12:29 PM   #4
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Yeah, being from Arkansas, I don't worry too much about my congressfolks, though we do have one that concerns me just a little. But I agree that there are suddenly lots of gun-control bandwagons for them to jump on, so I just went ahead and wrote.
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Old August 1, 2012, 12:30 PM   #5
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I'm going to play Red Team or Devil's Advocate. One must if one is to defend the RKBA. Consider this a FOF when the BG shoots you (I have had that experience and ouch!)

Whitman fired at long range from a position of significant cover. It was also not a fast event. He fired over a very spread out distance.

The main weapon used is available but I have that book at work. It might have been the Remington (an older gun) but I can't put money on that.

It is not comparable to using fast firing semiauto weapons in a densely packed venue like Aurora, Gabby Gifford's meeting or Virginia Tech.

Thus, while one is appalled at the use of a long range weapon is a unique circumstance, that doesn't speak to issue of eliminating easy access to weapons that would kill so easily in a crowded venue.

Also, note that the DC sniper used an AR pattern gun. It can serve as a long range weapon and a weapon of mass destruction.

--- OK, here's my point - you have two different scenarios and I don't see how Whitman is relevant to Aurora or Virigina Tech.

Whitman planned for a long seige it seems. Whether he was sucidial, is not known. Cho and Holmes seemed to be aware that their incident would end quickly. Cho was sucidial and Holmes allowed himself to be easily captures for reasons unknown to us yet.

All four were found to be or probably will be found to be seriously mentally ill.

If Cho, Loughner, and Holmes attempted to carry out their shooting sprees with a bolt gun - it might have been quite different as to the total number of hits. Rushing Cho and Holmes might have worked if the BG was shooting the 700.

The piece is appealing to the choir but I don't think a neutral or anti person who is knowledgeable will buy it.

The argument for the large cap mags and guns is clear. They have utility in SD and the defense against tyranny. Trying to downplay their efficacy by saying they are not that dangerous won't work. The Constitution protects them for their efficacy, not because they aren't.

One can also say - well, so Whitman used a hunting gun - with a scope. Let's ban them. It's been said. So that's not a good argument.

One can do most hunting in the USA with a Ruger No. 1. Yep, a nut in a tower with time could kill a lot of folks with that gun. So, let's allow 100 round mags that can hose a crowded lecture hall. How does that analogy stand?

-- One point about the RKBA is that your argument cannot be written for the choir. It must stand against argument - also, trying to make the bad gun look not dangerous is not a good point. The growth in the gun culture is not in the gun realm but in the SD realm. That is explicitly because they are dangerous and efficacious.

It is a good point that ARs are now common sport and hunting guns. But I don't buy the argument here. I'm sorry, I respect the effort.

Glenn
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Old August 1, 2012, 01:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
OK, here's my point - you have two different scenarios and I don't see how Whitman is relevant to Aurora or Virigina Tech.
Oh, I think you do. You're just being obtuse.

You spelled out the point and the applicability right here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
All four [Whitman, Cho, Loughner and Holmes] were found to be or probably will be found to be seriously mentally ill.
Botswana points out that:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Botswana
No measure of gun control being proposed today would have stopped Whitman's rampage. . . . Mass murder is a horrific event. I think that is something anyone can agree on. Anything tacked on to these events is just a naked political agenda. Gun control does not attack root causes, does not address preventative measures, and ultimately only affects people who are not going to go on a mass shooting rampage.
Now, I'm not a mental health expert, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that those who pick off innocents (whether from the bell tower or in large gathering) are, by some definition, insane. Gun control measures, unsurprisingly, do not address mental health issues. I would suggest that mass shootings are mental health issues, not gun issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
One point about the RKBA is that your argument cannot be written for the choir. It must stand against argument - also, trying to make the bad gun look not dangerous is not a good point. The growth in the gun culture is not in the gun realm but in the SD realm. That is explicitly because they are dangerous and efficacious.
Agreed. I've seen where RKBA supporters have claimed things to the effect that "guns aren't dangerous / only bad gun handling is dangerous." By my definition of "dangerous" (capable of inflicting great damage), they most certainly are dangerous. That's why I carry one.
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Old August 1, 2012, 01:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
The argument for the large cap mags and guns is clear. They have utility in SD and the defense against tyranny. Trying to downplay their efficacy by saying they are not that dangerous won't work. The Constitution protects them for their efficacy, not because they aren't... trying to make the bad gun look not dangerous is not a good point. The growth in the gun culture is not in the gun realm but in the SD realm. That is explicitly because they are dangerous and efficacious.
+100.

Although Glenn sums it up very well, I like to compare the RKBA to another radical idea enshrined in our Constitution- free speech. Just like high-capacity semi-automatic guns can be dangerous to innocents, free speech can lead to the exchange of ideas, pictures, publications, and speech that are distasteful, obscene, or even outright dangerous. These facts cannot be disputed, no matter how one twists the arguments around.

The central question should be this:

Is it beneficial for society as a whole for these rights to be taken away from good men, in order to stop the potential actions of a few bad men?

Our founding fathers said NO. I agree with them, as do many other Americans.

I wish the mass shootings would stop. I also wish that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church would shut up and disappear. However, do I want to see the rights of average law-abiding citizens taken away to make these things happen? NO.
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Old August 1, 2012, 01:39 PM   #8
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The issue of insanity isn't really core to this thread but I agree that most of the USA rampagers have some form of mental illness.

The insanity issue is whether they are turned over to the mental health systems or criminal justice systems - but that can be another thread.

OH, in a few weeks, I'll have to lecture on insanity and diagnosis. What, school is starting?
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Old August 1, 2012, 01:55 PM   #9
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[quote=carguychris]Although Glenn sums it up very well, I like to compare the RKBA to another radical idea enshrined in our Constitution- free speech. Just like high-capacity semi-automatic guns can be dangerous to innocents, free speech can lead to the exchange of ideas, pictures, publications, and speech that are distasteful, obscene, or even outright dangerous. These facts cannot be disputed, no matter how one twists the arguments around.[/qote]
This reminds me of a discussion I had several weeks ago. I was discussing the 2A with a probation officer with whom I am acquainted. This particular officer thinks that it would be OK if everyone had to have a psychological examination before being allowed to purchase a firearm. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Really? You think everyone should have a psych exam before they can buy a gun?
Him: Sure. Why not?
Me: Have you ever applied that thinking to the other amendments? What if you had to have a psych exam before exercising your First Amendment rights?
Him: Well, words never killed anyone.
Me: You sure about that? I think King George might have disagreed. Words got quite a few of his soldiers killed. . . . .
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Old August 1, 2012, 02:02 PM   #10
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When discussing a rational for proposed gun control laws after mass shootings one needs to take into account that there is no rational for the laws based on restricting guns and ammo...the retional is weak....

The gun control people just pander to the gun haters mainly in large cities and around the country...they use the mass murders for the shock effect they create on TV and news print...You simply can`t change the minds of people that want to take guns from private citizens....

Make no mistake the future is no guns period....now how long that takes remains unclear but all the governments of the world want total disarmament of people period...Yes our government also...At the perfect point in the future the rug will be pulled from all of us...If you look at legislation that has passed ie. Patriot Act for one... you will see the constant move to undermine the constitution by allowing the government to side step it by it`s new defination of what a terriorist and terriorism is....

A agreement signed with all UN countries to remove arms from all citizens in these countries will sidestep our constitution and transfer the law created to the World court and World law...5 years or 25 it`s coming....
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Old August 1, 2012, 02:18 PM   #11
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jimjc, I can't entirely disagree with you.

Saw an article today in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about some teenage boys and their parents being arrested for creating and distributing explosive devices.

These may have been serious explosives, with intended lethal or destructive use in mind.

But for all I know, they could have been M80 equivalents or homemade fireworks.

We as a people have allowed all sorts of things to be outlawed that were commonplace as recently as the 1970s. The pattern is typically a scary event, followed by public over-reaction, followed by politicians capitalizing and getting press time - "There ought to be a law!", followed by a public that can't be bothered to think about long-term effects buying off on (and passing at the polls) any number of over-reaching, unnecessary laws.

What were pranks, when I was a kid, would put people in prison for years, now.

Guns are only one aspect of our growing array of laws and restrictions. The sad thing is, a lot of the public seem to take comfort in their shackles.
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Old August 1, 2012, 09:03 PM   #12
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I think we should also be including Major Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, in these discussions. The order of magnitude of the event was roughly comparable. 13 dead, 29 wounded.

Also Luby's cafeteria. 23 dead, 20 wounded.

But then there's Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma City. 168 dead, 680 injured. With nothing more sophisticated than a U-Haul truck, fertilizer, and diesel fuel. Holmes certainly had the smarts to come up with something equally or more devastating, and if he hadn't have been able to purchase firearms it's reasonable to conjecture that he would have simply blown up buildings rather than shoot people.

So what's the answer? "Ban large-capacity fertilizer bags." "Background checks for U-Haul truck rentals."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
The insanity issue is whether they are turned over to the mental health systems or criminal justice systems - but that can be another thread.
I think there's another issue. To whom the shooters get assigned after the fact doesn't really help any of the victims. What about looking at what's WRONG with the mental health system that allows mass murderers to "slip through the cracks." Clearly, if a shooter has been totally stealth and then pops up shooting people, as the mass killer in Norway appears to have done, there's not much to fault the mental health system for because they never had a chance at his. But IIRC Cho had been in treatment, and Holmes was under psychiatric care. Why isn't there some level of outrage being expressed that the mental health professionals weren't able to see these events coming and/or didn't do anything to raise red flags that might have prevented the killings?

This is not a red herring argument. I understand that psychology and psychiatry are imperfect "sciences" (I tend to think of psychology as pseudo-science, but I've known a fair number of psychologists over the years ...), but the anti-gun faction wants to tell the world, "If he hadn't had access to guns, he couldn't have done this." (Which, of course, ignores the fact that if he hadn't had access to guns he could have made bombs. Really sphisticated bombs.) My counter-point is, "If he had been committed to a mental health institution, he couldn't have done this ... OR made bombs."

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Old August 2, 2012, 10:10 AM   #13
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I suggest being very careful about advocating locking up the mentally ill.That is another tool that has been used by tyrannical governments to dispose of "undesirables".

IIRC,the Columbine shooters presented many signs something was up.Didn't Cho also generate grave concerns amongst fellow students?

Yet Homeland Security gets concerned about Veterans who have honorably served,or folks who display historical banners of Liberty,like "Don't Tread on Me"

The tragic killings are a kick in the gut.They hurt all of us.

But what also hurts us as a nation is the exploitation of the tragedies.The notion of"never let a good crisis go to waste".

Far more good people have died fighting for the Individual Liberties we have than in mass shootings.

While these crimes are news,they are also exploited by political and journalistic whores with agendas.It is ironic that the very notoriety the media provides is may be the motivation for the shooting.

It is common knowlege that driving automobiles is far more dangerous than flying in a commercial airliner,but its the plane crash that gets our attention.

If a child dies in an accidental shooting,it makes national news and "somebody has to do something!" yet,I recall National Safety Foundation Statistics that showed more kids die from drowning after falling into 5 gallon buckets.We don't hear much about those,or banning 5 gallon buckets.

I'm suggesting some perspective.In a population of 300,000,000,folks,we ARE going to have some mass shootings.And we also will have some losses to lightning,mosquitos,drowning,snakebite,falling in the bathtub.......

The difference is no one is salivating over the opportunity to push through a long awaited end to the RTKBA.
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Old August 2, 2012, 10:52 AM   #14
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I think the UT shooting is still pretty relevant. Every single one of these mass shootings have been different. The response to the Aurora shooting seems to be focused on what we can do to stop another spree shooting in a movie theater, just like the reaction to the UT shooting was to prevent another sniper from climbing the clock tower. It's reactionary and pointless.

You can't attack this from a mental illness perspective either. That is a whole big fuzzy gray area and there are too many people who could get a false positive while simultaneously there is no guarantee the next mass murderer will ever get in front of a psych eval.

We'll ban "high capacity" magazines and "assault rifles" and there will be another mass murderer. They may even be a mass shooter.

Here's my point. More laws will not make us safer.

Pick any mass killing, except maybe the Hassan shooting which was 100% preventable. We were not in less danger before the event, and we did not become less secure after it happened. I went and saw Dark Knight Rises after the Aurora shooting and did not feel less safe then I already did.

In America, we take our safety for granted. I'm not advocating non-stop paranoia or living in fear. What I am saying is that we are well past the point where the illusion of security has been shattered, and yet we still cling to it. A lot of these politicians are just cynically scoring political points. They probably won't be able to progress their agenda, but they see an opportunity to get in front of the camera, look good for their constituents, and maybe just maybe they can make up some ground. However, none of the laws proposed will do one thing to make us safer.

The popular byline of these newly proposed measures is that we "must stop the next mass shooting". Not one of the proposals around bulk ammo sales, internet ammo sales, high capacity magazines, or assault rifles will make us safer or do anything to stop the next killer. I don't care if your for gun control or not, there is no evidence that any of these proposals would have even stopped James Holmes. Feel good legislation will just add more laws to an already legally overburdened populace. If we agree to ANY of these proposals no matter how "reasonable" they are we will be seeing a reduction of our rights with absolutely ZERO benefit to our safety and wellbeing.
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Old August 2, 2012, 09:04 PM   #15
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It was very sickening to me that the politico anti's started their garbage on TV and in the general media as soon as they did.
Not a day following the theater shooting, while the police were still trying to figure out how to enter the perps apartment due to the rigged explosives, these shameless,anti-constitutional, sorry excuses for Americans were on TV bantering their anti-gun rhetoric while the rest of the country was still trying to mourn our losses. Every one of them should be ashamed and certainly owe the families of the deceased a public apology for their lack of respect.

Too, the same anti-politico's I saw bantering their un-constitutional garbage were from states/cities with very strict gun laws and ironically these states/cities have the highest violent crime rates in the country.

Sadly, common sense will always elude these types of people. For the few that do have a bit of common sense, that know deep down inside that banning guns wouldn't stop someone set on doing mass destruction, their ego's and political careers won't let them admit they are wrong.

As sad,tragic and horrible as these past shootings have been, we can be thankful explosives,chemicals etc. were not used.

Doesn't matter what tools capable of killing we ban/outlaw. If someone's got in their sick mind to maliciously kill, they will. Also, I don't think any of these past murderers cared much about breaking laws and neither will the ones in the future.

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Old August 2, 2012, 09:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
This particular officer thinks that it would be OK if everyone had to have a psychological examination before being allowed to purchase a firearm.
The problem is that sociopaths are very good at faking it. One of them can pass a quick standardized test without issue.

What we have to accept is that the human race occasionally produces a monster, and there's little (in the way of effective measures) we can do to prevent such things.
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Old August 3, 2012, 09:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo
The problem is that sociopaths are very good at faking it. One of them can pass a quick standardized test without issue.
I absolutely agree that it's one of the problems. My other problem with it is the following question: "Who decides what level or type of mental illness is enough to prohibit firearm possession?"
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Old August 3, 2012, 01:22 PM   #18
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What we have to accept is that the human race occasionally [emphasis mine] produces a monster, and there's little (in the way of effective measures) we can do to prevent such things.
Exactly. Why don't people get this?

There are about 300 million people in this country. If one thousandth of one percent (300,000,000x.00001) were homicidal maniacs we would have 3,000 of these incidents.

We don't.

The number of folk that are so deranged really is an almost infinitesimal part of the population.
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Old August 3, 2012, 02:03 PM   #19
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The literature on violence prevention is clear that we don't have instruments with high reliability or validity.

I do wish before one shoots their mouth off, they perhaps to a lit search on their genius idea. Did the officer ask experts to see if that would work?
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Old August 4, 2012, 06:42 AM   #20
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This particular officer thinks that it would be OK if everyone had to have a psychological examination before being allowed to purchase a firearm.
With an estimated 43,000 people killed in the U.S. per year in auto accidents, should we have mental evaluations to be able to legally drive in this country?

Every 14.2 minutes, someone dies by suicide in the U.S. ...
...suicide, being the tenth leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. , ...

....Should we have yearly mandatory psych. evaluations on everyone?

While the tragedies of these mass shootings will forever haunt us all, it's only fair when talking gun control that we also figure into the equation the number of SD situations that happen per year involving a firearm. Even a Federal study under the Clinton Adm. claimed 1.5 million incidents per year. Many studies show much higher incident rates.

With that incident rate per year, if we dis-arm the law abiding citizens, how many of those law abiding citizens will we be sentencing to assault or death per year?
Would the 'law abiding victim' count be more per year then the number of victims per year in senseless mass shootings?
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Old August 4, 2012, 10:18 AM   #21
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Another problem is that when there are clear indications, universities have cover-up or liability management emphasis. So instead, we just test everyone?

Bah.
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Old August 4, 2012, 10:47 AM   #22
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Quote:
I'm going to play Red Team or Devil's Advocate.
Me too...

Quote:
Here were the weapons used in the massacre -
Remington 700 ADL with 4x Scope (6mm)
M1 Carbine
Remington M141 (.35-caliber)
Sears semi-automatic shotgun, sawed down (12 gauge)
S&W M19 (.357 Magnum)
Luger P08 (9mm)
Galesi-Brescia (.25 ACP)
Okay, when you send your letter to your representatives, try not to present information as fact when it isn't. For example, how many shots were fired with the M19, Luger and the Galesi-Brescia? Who did he point them at? Yes, he had them, but there is a difference in having a weapon and using a weapon.

He also had a Nsceo machette in a green scabbard, but you failed to mention it or the Camallus hunting knife, Randall knife, pocket knife, etc., but he had and didn't use any of these "weapons." So when you talk about the "weapons" being used by Whitman, you need to be absolutely specific. Mixing used and present and then being incomplete in what you call being "used" is inaccurate.

Now he may have used any or all of the pistols, but I don't find in the accounts that he did. Maybe you have some better insight, but I know he didn't "use" most of his knives as "weapons." In fact, I don't think he used any. He apparently used at least one as a food/dining tool, but not as a weapon.

If I am your representative or maybe the staff member who reads your letter and it is written as it is now, then I will likely round file your letter because you are making a point with information that isn't accurate or isn't presented accurately. If somebody who reads it knows what you are talking about or takes the time to check your facts, they will likely do the same thing, or dead file it. Why? The office is more than busy enough with other matters than to be doing all the fact checking and argument building to make your stated case a credible argument when you haven't taken the time to do that yourself.
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Old August 4, 2012, 10:58 AM   #23
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The bottom line for me is that people who don't agree with us won't be swayed by arguments about the value of the 19-rd mags I got with my XDm-9 or that ammo can be piled up with small purchases over a few weeks time rather than all at once online ... It's obvious to me that insanity is involved in virtually all mass shootings; in what world does a sane person a. have the issues that would drive him to such an act and b. actually commit such a crime?

We live in a society where people simply will not admit that life is full of risk. They want a danger-free life (witness the 800 airbags in some new cars and the push for cars that drive themselves rather than actually learning to drive and not trying to do 18 things behind the wheel) and can't picture a world where they are responsible for their own safety. Politicians like the two boobs from NY see an opportunity to enhance their images with their constituents so they can remain employed at the next election, whether what they suggest would in any way solve the problems they claim to be trying to solve.

Elsewhere on TFL people have been seriously discussing the value of wearing body armor routinely ... when that world arrives, I'm checking out ... until then, I don't support any cosmetic changes to the laws covering firearms, since they really are designed simply to make the law-abiding citizen's life harder without making the next mass shooting any less likely ...
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Old August 4, 2012, 02:48 PM   #24
SC4006
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Join Date: June 27, 2012
Location: New Hampshire
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I once saw a bumper sticker that said something like this "Gun free safe zones supply helpless targets for mass murderers". Criminals will pretty much always have access to guns somehow, gun laws just hurt people like me and you who enjoy shooting guns as a hobby or who just want to protect themselves.
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Old August 4, 2012, 03:12 PM   #25
Double Naught Spy
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Location: Forestburg, Montague County, Texas
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Quote:
"Gun free safe zones supply helpless targets for mass murderers".
Ah yes, the "I'm a victim if I don't have a gun" bumper sticker. If not having a gun makes you helpless in your own defense, then you are already a victim.
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