You Can’t Outlaw Crazy

I’ve lived in Japan for 10 years, but grew up in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains surrounded by guns — literally. My father stashed them in the basement, the attic, above a drop ceiling, in our root cellar, and even in the mantel of our fireplace. Why? “Because you never know what will happen, and it’s always good to be able to get your guns.” He taught us how to break down and clean the family’s firearms, and how to reload ammunition using equipment mounted to his workbench.

More than that, though, he taught us gun safety. Every soul in our house knew the danger of “unloaded” weapons, the importance of pointing downrange, and how to carry a rifle when walking through the woods. The cardinal rule was a simple one I recall every time I see a drawn-out Hollywood showdown scene: Never point a weapon at a person unless you intend to kill them.

All of this came back to me with news of the Aurora massacre on Friday. Another deranged man, another group of innocents, another time in Colorado. The state barely seems to have overcome the Columbine massacre of 13 years ago, and now this. Emails poured in from Japanese and American friends alike seeking my reaction. In their view, my twin connections to guns and Colorado qualify me to weigh in. The usual questions: “Isn’t it time for America to modernize with gun control laws?” “Is America’s violent culture to blame?” “Are violent Hollywood movies, like Batman, to blame?”

I understand that times have changed since the Second Amendment, now almost 221 years old, that an armed citizenry is no longer adequate to resist modern military technology. However, I believe that owning a gun is better than owning nothing if society goes out of control and the G-men come for you and your neighbors — as has happened multiple times in the world over the past two centuries.

I know that America’s culture is more violent than many in the world and that Hollywood films glorify much of that violence. However, I also know that it’s been that way for decades and that the very genesis of our nation happened in the violence of armed rebellion against a sovereign. Fierce independence is in our blood; unilateral disarmament is not. I doubt a law will do much about that. As for outright gun control, isn’t it too late? It’s possible in Japan and other countries because people there have never had guns and don’t want them. Simply not introducing them to the public serves as nearly total gun control. In America, who’s going to sign up for the job of seizing guns from people’s houses? Good luck getting the ones from my dad’s mantel.

What I think is most frustrating to accept in tragic times, which is why it’s the last idea offered by commentators, is that people sometimes snap. No laws or cultural introspection will get around this. What percentage of the US population went crazy on Friday? A tiny sliver. To institute TSA screenings at all public spaces, and urge gun control, and ban certain movies, and so on would be an ineffective overreaction. It would irritate the good people, leave bad people unfazed, and be irrelevant to crazy people. This massacre is a tragedy, but it’s not the fault of guns, or America, or Batman. It’s the fault of one unhinged 24-year-old.

Moreover, you know what would have helped a lot in that theater? A good person with a gun. Just about anybody I grew up with could have made short work of a man standing silhouetted against a movie screen. Bulletproof vest or no, there are vulnerable areas and, besides, somebody shooting back would have changed the attacker’s mood in a hurry. Fewer innocent lives might have been lost.

When a person sets their mind to violence, they don’t need guns to get it done. Suicide statistics bear this out. Most American suicides happen with guns, so one gun-control argument is that if there were no guns there would be fewer suicides. Wrong. Japan has no guns but a reported suicide rate twice that of America’s. It’s not the guns that are the problem, it’s the hands that end up holding them. Take away the guns and the hands will find other weapons. Four years ago in the Akihabara electronic shopping district of Tokyo, for example, a murderous man plowed his truck into a crowd of people, killing three, then jumped out and stabbed 12 more with a dagger. People snap everywhere on Earth for all kinds of reasons.

I don’t know how to change that. What I do know is that not one kid from my gun-ridden childhood has committed a violent crime. A genuine respect for firearms is tantamount to revulsion to violent crime, because killing innocent people is not what guns are supposed to do. The Colorado kids I knew, and know now as adults, believe guns are for hunting and family protection, not for murder. I wish more citizens grew up the way we did.

Highlights From The Comment Stream Below:

Link: Is there any reason for the general population to own military-style weapons?

Link: Could a “regular Joe” armed with a concealed weapon have stopped the Aurora attacker?

Link: This video of a concealed weapon saving the day in Florida suggests the answer is “yes.”

Link: Should theaters be required to install sensors on their emergency exit doors?

Link: Does the availability of guns make America more violent than other countries?

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  1. Posted July 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame wrote an article urging gun control, in which he argues:

    • The 2nd Amendment applies to militias only. Most gun advocates are not part of a militia and, therefore, have no right to own guns.
    • Arguments such as “Guns should only be banned if violent crimes committed with tomatoes means we should ban tomatoes” and “Drunk drivers kill, should we ban fast cars?” are “completely specious” because “tomatoes and cars have purposes other than killing.”
    • The presence of good people with guns in the Aurora theater would not have helped because “the element of surprise, tear gas and head-to-toe Kevlar protection might have given him a distinct edge. Not only that, but a crowd of people firing away in a chaotic arena without training or planning — I tend to think that scenario could produce even more victims.”
    • The argument that evildoers will get guns even if we ban them does not wash because the Aurora shooter “would have had to go to illegal sources — sources that could possibly be traced, watched, overseen. Or he would have to go deeper online and those transactions could be monitored. ‘Hm, some guy in Aurora is buying guns, tons of ammo and kevlar — plus bomb-making ingredients and tear gas. Maybe we should check that out.’ But that won’t happen as long as all that activity is legal and unrestricted.”

    In response, the Grumpy Pundit rebutted Alexander’s piece:

    • “He starts out by dragging out that old saw, long disproven, that the 2nd Amendment only applies to militias. (It was exactly this argument, by the way, back in the ’90s that led to the rise of right-wing groups calling themselves ‘militias.’) For the record, the explanatory clause at the beginning of the sentence doesn’t change the meaning of the main clause: ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ To argue otherwise is to argue that ‘the people’ means something different in the 2nd Amendment than it does in all the rest of the Constitution. There is no basis for doing so, and courts up to and including the US Supreme Court have upheld that the 2nd Amendment right to arms is an individual right.”
    • “Does Jason really think that illegal sources are more closely monitored than legal channels? That someone is tracing every illegal firearm transaction? Do I even have to explain how silly that is? It’s the legal transactions that have a greater chance of someone noticing an unusual purchase going on.”
    • “The (common) mistake Jason is making here is assuming that if weapons like the AR aren’t available, mass-murderers would use something less effective. Unfortunately, history doesn’t bear that out. As I explain above, the AR-15 isn’t the most potent rifle available, and besides the biggest mass murders (by individuals; states are still the all-time champions, by many orders of magnitude) of all time have been carried out by bombs. Timothy McVeigh didn’t use an AR to kill 168 people in Oklahoma City. Andrew Kehoe didn’t use an AR to kill 45 people at the Bath Consolidated School. They both used bombs.”
    • “We can’t stop bad people from getting their hands on stuff. There are too many things that can be used to hurt people. You want to take away all the guns, everywhere in the world? Okay. How about gasoline? That’s what Tim McVeigh used; gasoline and fertilizer. There are a lot of other nasty things you can do with it too, which I won’t go into for obvious reasons.”
  2. Milton Cooper
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The Country of Texas ~ especially for my Japanese friends
    Please note that Texas is the only state with a legal right to secede from the Union . (Reference the Texas-American Annexation Treaty of 1848.)

    We Texans love y’all, but we’ll probably have to take action if Barack Obama wins the election. We’ll miss you too.

    Here is what can happen:

    1: Barack Hussein Obama is President of the United States, and Texas secedes from the Union in summer of 2013.

    2: George W. Bush will become the President of the Republic of Texas . You might not think that he talks too pretty, but we haven’t had another terrorist attack, and the economy was fine until the effects of the Democrats lowering the qualifications for home loans came to roost.

    So what does Texas have to do to survive as a Republic?

    1. NASA is just south of Houston , Texas . We will control the space industry.

    2. We refine over 85% of the gasoline in the United States .

    3. Defense Industry–we have over 65% of it. The term “Don’t mess with Texas,” will take on a whole new meaning.

    4. Oil – we can supply all the oil that the Republic of Texas will need for the next 300 years. What will the other states do? Gee, we don’t know. Why not ask Obama?

    5. Natural Gas – again we have all we need, and it’s too bad about those Northern States. John Kerry and Al Gore will have to figure out a way to keep them warm….

    6. Computer Industry – we lead the nation in producing computer chips and communications equipment -small companies like Texas Instruments, Dell Computer, EDS, Raytheon, National Semiconductor,Motorola, Intel, AMD, Atmel, Applied Materials, Ball Microconductor, Dallas Semiconductor, Nortel, Alcatel, etc, etc. The list goes on and on.

    7. Medical Care – We have the research centers for cancer research, the best burn centers and the top trauma units in the world, as well as other large health centers. The Houston Medical Center alone employees over 65,000 people.

    8. We have enough colleges to keep us getting smarter: University of
    Texas , Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Rice, SMU, University
    of Dallas , University of Houston , Baylor, UNT ( University of North
    Texas ), Texas Women’s University, etc. Ivy grows better in the South anyway.

    9. We have an intelligent and energetic work force, and it isn’t restricted by a bunch of unions. Here in Texas , it’s a Right to Work State and, therefore, it’s every man and women for themselves. We just go out and get the job done. And if we don’t like the way one company operates, we get a job somewhere else.

    10. We have essential control of the paper, plastics, and insurance industries, etc.

    11. In case of a foreign invasion, we have the Texas National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and several military bases. We don’t have an Army, but since everybody down here has at least six rifles and a pile of ammo, we can raise an Army in 24 hours if we need one. If the situation really gets bad, we can always call the Department of Public Safety and ask them to send over the Texas Rangers.

    12. We are totally self-sufficient in beef, poultry, hogs, and several types of grain, fruit and vegetables, and let’s not forget seafood from the Gulf. Also, everybody down here knows how to cook them so that they taste good. Don’t need any food.

    13. Three of the ten largest cities in the United States , and twenty- three of the 100 largest cities in the United States , are located inTexas. And Texas also has more land than California , New York , New Jersey , Connecticut , Delaware , Hawaii , Massachusetts , Maryland , Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

    14. Trade: Three of the ten largest ports in the United States are located in Texas .

    15. We also manufacture cars down here, but we don’t need to. You see, nothing rusts in
    Texas, so our vehicles stay beautiful and run well for decades.

    This just names a few of the items that will keep the Republic of Texas in good shape. There isn’t a thing out there that we need and don’t have.

    Now to the rest of the United States under President Obama: Since you won’t have the refineries to get gas for your cars, only President Obama will be able to drive around in his big 5 mpg SUV.The rest of the United States will have to walk or ride bikes.

    You won’t have any TV as the Space Center in Houston will cut off satellite communications. You won’t have any natural gas to heat your homes, but since Mr. Obama has predicted global warming, you will not need the gas as long as you survive the 2000 years it will take to get enough
    heat from Global Warming.

    The People of Texas

    P.S. This is not a threatening letter – just a note to give you something to think about!

  3. Charlie
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Here’s another video showing people wanting and needing the right to defend themselves with a concealed carry permit:

    Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a good story from NPR about Mexico. Mexico has basically outlawed all guns to honest citizens by making one apply to the Mexican military for a permit that costs $10,000 and must be renewed every year.

    The story is 8 minutes log and goes on to say that the citizens, sick of the violence, started illegally arming themselves and this has been the only thing that worked.


    The cold-blooded murders of Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar galvanized the community, Julian LeBaron says. It prompted them to take a stance that is familiar to Second Amendment advocates in the U.S., but one that is taboo in Mexico.

    “I think there would be less violence if there were more guns, in the sense that I could barge in here and do whatever I want, knowing that this guy doesn’t have a gun,” says Jose Widmar, the brother of slain Luis.

    Today, if the gangsters return, the LeBaron colony is locked and loaded.

  5. Charlie
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Someone who has actually lived through something like this is worth listening to:

  6. Megan
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    There are a few flaws in your theory that if someone else had a gun in that theater, a lot of lives would have been saved. First, that is completely putting the blame on the innocent people, basically saying it is their fault that so many people were killed. Second, it was not just a man “silhouetted against a movie screen.” If you had read the reports, he first released tear gas into the theater, which would obviously make it very hard to see, making it more dangerous to fire more shots. Third, he had on way more than just a bullet proof vest, which you would also know had you fully read the reports. He was said to be wearing full body armor, a vest, neck guard, bullet proof pants, and a mask. Clearly there weren’t many “vulnerable places.” It is important to do facts checks before placing blame on the victims.

    • Posted July 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I read the reports, checked the facts.

      To your first point: Blaming the victims? No, trying to help the victims defend themselves. See my earlier comment containing a news report of one victim using his body as a shield to protect his girlfriend. That’s all the helpless man could do against a heavily armed attacker, and I wish he’d been able to do more.

      To your second and third points: Nobody claims that a concealed carry in the theater would have prevented all trouble that night, but it almost certainly would have shortened the attacker’s spree. Regardless of the obscured visibility, regardless of the attacker’s bullet-proof wear, a more effective defense would have been possible if one or more of the theater patrons had been armed that night. See Don’s comment for more, and read the following excerpt from Chris’s comment:

      …the gunman leisurely walked the aisle gunning down people w/ plenty of time to reload. Leisurely waiting and looking for movement in the people huddling. According to witnesses, there wasn’t a single person able to fight back as he just gunned down people like sheep.

      A point that hasn’t been covered yet: One does not even have to render the shooter unable to continue to fight, you only need to render the shooter unwilling to continue to fight.

      Had there been many citizens w/ their CCPs — or even just one — this probably would have ended much sooner. The only people he didn’t try to gun down were the police who did have guns, and he gave up w/o even the slightest fight. Anybody shooting back and the shooter would have ducked, run, or died. Having a large percentage of the population armed may have even been enough for the shooter to think twice about pulling off this horrible tragedy.

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      How about a thought experiment.

      Event: Similar situation
      Location: Southern state in USA
      Probability of a sole CCL carrying in audience in packed theater: 5% (1 out of 20, likely more)
      Probability of CCL holder engaging shooter: 50% (does or does not)

      With so may other variables we can say at the very least that the CCL holder would have a 2.5% chance of changing the course of events. The more CCL carriers in the theater, the more we increase the probability of altering events. For the worse you say? Maybe, but I’d like to think the guy in front with an AR is the main target… not CCL carriers shooting other CCL carriers.

      CCL carriers know what they have concealed, it’s a tool with the power to take a life or defend one. They don’t carry it to rob banks, or to do harm. They are usually law abiding great Americans ready to stand up for what is right and to defend others when needed.

  7. Al Campbell
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    You can’t outlaw crazy, so would you prefer crazy with a gun or without?

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      I’d prefer without, but in the event that the crazy gets a gun by whatever means, legal or otherwise, I’d prefer having one, too, so I could defend myself and others against the attack.

  8. C Pierce
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    OK it’s not guns, and gun control is not the answer. But I’d rather you not tell me what kind of gun I can have…that’s a personal choice.

  9. D Koch
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    I agree that guns don’t kill people by themselves. But assault weapons are the tools of choice for the crazies and they facilitate mass murder with ease. There is no compelling reason or need to own one…..unless one intends to commit mass murder.

    There is simply no rational justification to allow the legal purchase of assault weapons, period! I’m supportive of gun ownership for hunting and personal protection but allowing virtually universal access to assault weapons is insanity.

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Dear Mr. Koch,

      This is not entirely directed at you, but enough for me to rant in your general direction.

      I agree guns don’t kill people, but I will stand my ground that I have every right to own almost anything I can make myself or buy legally with my hard earned money….

      Do you know and understand the history of the United States of America?

      Do you recall any gun-control activist risking his life (and the lives of the men they led) crossing the Hudson river on Christmas morning to stop the U.N. troops from infringing on our right to buy assault weapons?

      Was that a rhetorical or retarded question you ask? Maybe both, but our founding fathers (George Washington, if you didn’t know…) embraced our right to bear arms to protect ourselves and the ideals of freedom at all cost, even on Christmas morning (Side Note 1: This is something I doubt any new age “leader” would ever be capable of… rightwing or leftwing….whatever Koolaid you drink).

      The point is simply, our “American” culture was founded on the right and the necessity to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our rights, and our way of life. Yes, even if it is the right to buy assault rifles.

      Your quote “There is simply no rational justification to allow the legal purchase of assault weapons, period!”, makes me ask many questions…

      1. Do you not know basic chemistry?

      2. Do you not understand physics?

      3. Do you not know what other countries are going through? Do you not know what these countries gangs/drug lords are doing in the USA as you read this?

      1a. Pig shit of all things was used in the first rockets and flash powders by the Chinese, anybody with an Encyclopedia Britannia nowadays and basic math skills could potentially “cook” TNT and precipitate other chemicals with high explosive yields with the most basic compounds overnight. As far as I know, Timothy McVeigh was no chemist….

      2a. Seat belts save for a reason… Your body cannot physically handle a rapid acceleration or deceleration in any direction, let alone a small projectile with enough momentum to puncture. Eric Robert Rudolph was no physicist and he scarred the lives of many in the 1990s with nails and household products, is this a compelling reason to outlaw the sale of these items to the general public?

      3a. To my limited knowledge… drug lords, child soldiers, criminals, etc etc in all continents of the world have easy access to fully automatic weapons, capable of much more damage than any regular U.S. Citizen would be able to acquire with the semi-automatics (Class III/VIII requirements etc). Not to mention the U.S. Government selling guns to Mexican cartels in hopes of re-tracing the weapon, AFTER it’s used?

      Our founding fathers did us a big favor a long time ago. They fought/died for a few basic principles of freedom, which were very vaguely recorded in the Bill of Rights. When you try and limit and interpret the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc amendment you endanger the culture on which America was born and continues to grow. I believe the founding fathers wrote vaguely because they were not only well rounded people (warriors, scientist, politicians, lawyers, farmers, authors, you name it…etc etc) but because they understood the weaknesses and strengths of their countrymen.

      Okay, I’ll try and stop now, but first a few questions for everybody that nobody seems to ask…

      Where the hell did he get gas-canisters from?

      Are there gas-canister control laws coming?

      Are people buying more assault rifles or concealed carry guns or gas canisters now?

      Seriously, why isn’t the media bashing the sale of gas canisters?

      In conclusion, I know i’m being kind of a donkey, but this gun control BS has got to stop. (I’m really sorry you’re still reading this, you must have lots of free time…) I have many friends that stand in harms way every Christmas morning so Americans like you and I can sit here comfortably, read each others posts, and debate the right and wrongs of society from the comfort of our homes in our underwear. I’m scared to hell of guns and hate the sight of them, but i’m a terrible shot with a pistol and I’ll leave this country if I can’t protect my family and loved ones with a high capacity assault rifle from foreign or domestic enemies.

      I’m pretty sure a knee-jerk gun control bill will only put a band aid on a much larger cultural problem… and that is you can’t outlaw crazy. PERIOD!

  10. Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    I just put a bunch of comments to the same question in the Letters section of our local paper…

    If you consider root cause, you might conclude that it’s NOT the guns or their availability that creates the problem… it’s the freaking lunatics who want to use them to kill people… for whatever freaking lunatic reasons!

    as I put it there, I believe the root cause is the PEOPLE, not the GUNS, and by any and all measures, ALL of us have done a VERY poor job of doing anything in the way of solving THAT problem.

    if that shooting range owner could have/would have had a way to report the loon, it might not have happened. perhaps it’s the tolerance drum we’ve heard banging for the past few decades that helps them get as far as they do?

    Guns or their availability are NOT root cause.

    The local paper’s editorial page had a cartoon some days back of a “Guns don’t kill people…” sign, riddled with bullet holes.

    I posed the question: “Can you tell me how a gun got in there and made those holes all by itself?”

    …. waiting for replies from other readers…

  11. Jack
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Dear Jason,

    Your analysis was spot on and I agree with you 100%. I would add one additional comment. As the son of an immigrant who had to flee a third world country (Nicaragua) due to a dictator taking over, the importance of the right to bear arms was drilled into both of my brothers and myself. The stories my father told us of how once the “benevolent” ruler came in and implemented changes to “protect the people” the first thing they did was round up all the gun owners. Then nobody could fight back.

    Anyone who thinks it couldnt happen in this country had better wake up and smell the coffee. As my wise father has said, and continues to state very eloquently: “If people want to kill, they will find a way to do it. If that guy in the theatre hadn’t used a gun, perhaps he would have gotten a caterpillar dumpster and ran it right thru the wall of that theatre. Once they come for your fire arms, the gig is up.”



  12. Linda McCrary
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink


    You are always spot on. My entire family agrees with your stance on this gun control issue. You continue to spread good will wherever you go. God bless you.

  13. Luigi
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink


    Gun control is a canard…. unless you mean using both hands in a Weaver stance!

    Decades of strict gun control laws in big cities have shown that, the stricter the laws, the higher the murder rate. This article in USA Today gives an explanation of why this is the case.

    Dumb politicians passing idiotic laws confuse motion with action.

    There are literally hundreds of millions of firearms owned by private citizens in this country, a number comparable to the number of cars and trucks. Yet the number of people killed by firearms is 1/10 of the number of people killed in car accidents and the number injured is negligible, compared to close to 3 million injured in car accidents.

    And close to half the deaths are caused by drunk drivers… how come we don’t outlaw alcohol? Well, we tried 80 years ago and it was a freaking failure! Should we try again?

    To the comments about: “You can’t compare guns to cars” ( a stupid comment BTW), does it really make a difference to the victim that a car rather than a bullet was the cause of death?

    Posted July 24, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    J Kelly,

    I loved your article and it is one of the most well-thought-out and well-written on the subject that I’ve read in a long time.

    I live in the city of Aurora, CO and the mall is about 13 miles NW of my house. I’ve heard the news stories about how the gunman leisurely walked the aisle gunning down people w/ plenty of time to reload. Leisurely waiting and looking for movement in the people huddling. According to witnesses, there wasn’t a single person able to fight back as he just gunned down people like sheep.

    A point that hasn’t been covered yet: One does not even have to render the shooter unable to continue to fight, you only need to render the shooter unwilling to continue to fight.

    Had there been many citizens w/ their CCPs — or even just one — this probably would have ended much sooner. The only people he didn’t try to gun down were the police who did have guns, and he gave up w/o even the slightest fight. Anybody shooting back and the shooter would have ducked, run, or died. Having a large percentage of the population armed may have even been enough for the shooter to think twice about pulling off this horrible tragedy.

    I would like the ability and chance to protect my wife and kids in this situation and am now looking into buying a small defensive pistol and starting the process of getting my CCP.

    • Don
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Chris, getting a CCP is a bit time consuming but reasonable. I highly recommend thorough study and familiarization with weapons and the applicable laws, safe handling/storage and lots of practice, as well as the Sig P232. We are all feeling the loss of those in Aurora.

  15. Bob Edwards
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Mr. Kelly,

    I was passed your memo (You Can’t Outlaw Crazy”) this morning via e-mail. I found it most interesting and spot-on as they say. Your talk of this tragic situation in your home state that has captured the sympathy of this entire nation has left everyone from the sitting president to individuals like yourself in far away places, wondering how and why.

    The question of how will no doubt be answered in due time. However, we may never know why. The experts who have been studying human behavior of modern man for a very long time have yet to publish reasonable reasons explaining the actions of those who commit acts of terror against mankind without explanation.

    History points to many acts of terror where numerous loss of life has occurred without the use of a gun. One comes to mind was the unexplained bombing and shooting in Oslo Norway, July 22, 2011 killing 77 innocent individuals. That bombing event appears to have been simple diversion for a larger massacre at a nearby island where guns were used and many other innocent lives were also lost. These type of actions are not limited to the USA.

    As you also mentioned, if someone wants to kill others, the method will vary on the opportunity. If a gun is available, perhaps it will be used. If it is not, perhaps a vehicle, a bomb, poison, or any number methods are available to the individual. That can never be prevented or legislated away.

    Yes, this will no doubt enhance the cause of those who champion the never-ending cry for gun control. These same individuals are tragically very narrow-minded. I do not hear their cry to limit or restrict vehicles. There are more lives lost as a result of vehicles and impaired drivers (drunk or drugs) than are shot in the USA each weekend. Gun control should be taken seriously after everyone gives up their vehicle and starts riding bicycles again.

    Bottom line, their call for gun control is just “feel good legislation.” Nothing will be gained. In the state where I currently live (California), there was a long call to “save a tree” and use plastic bags for your purchases at the various stores. This mandate was adopted. Now today these same do-gooders are calling to rid plastic bags from the stores and use your own (purchased) cloth bags. Their mindless and un-thought out calls are never ending. Such are the calls for gun control.

    In Texas, my home state, carrying a concealed weapon is legal if you meet the prerequisites. I seriously doubt that this level of violence will occur in Texas because you just never know who has a weapon and how many individuals have one. Texas has leveled the playing public’s field. Crime and self-defense have taken an entirely new meaning in Texas when they passed that law. You touched lightly on this same mindset in your memo.

    Many thanks for sharing your thoughts as publicly as you have. It allowed me to share mine as well. In closing, just remember, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.


    Bob Edwards

  16. Larry
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Your letter (You Can’t Outlaw Crazy) and comments to opinions are excellent.
    Thank you.

  17. Earl F
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Great points, Jason. One thing my dad has always said, regarding conceal carry citizenry, is, “You don’t have to own a gun to be protected by a person who does; but you do have to protect the right of that person to carry that gun.”

  18. Don
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    I may be inviting a lot of criticism here but we have a fundamental issue in the US with the death penalty, particularly as it might apply to indiscriminate or mass murderers. Last Friday, 12 people were subjected to the death penalty without process or reason. I believe the families of those 12 killed as well as all injured have a right to justice, and an honorable society and government has an obligation to bring that about. Even though there is absolutely no doubt as to guilt in this case, the chances of that happening are almost zero.

    A common argument against the death penalty is that it is not a deterrent. Consider for a moment two scenarios:

    One- A man calmly puts a gun in your face and states that if you do what he wants, he will kill you in a few seconds. That is the threat of the death penalty, and you are going to believe it and comply. It is a deterrent to any other action- because it’s both credible and it’s imminent.

    Two- Society tells a criminal that you must not commit certain crimes, or we will execute you. That is also the threat of a death penalty, but it has no deterrent effect at all. Why? Because it’s an empty threat. Assuming the criminal is actually caught and sentenced to death- the process will cost millions, take 10-15 years, and most likely will not happen anyway. Texas is by far the most active state in executions, and the odds of a death-sentence prisoner actually being executed in Texas is only one in three.

    For any rule to be a deterrent, the consequence must be both probable and prompt. We do not have a way in our criminal justice system to do that. This is a special class of crime, and we should be dealing with it appropriately- but we seem unwilling to create special ways to deal with indiscriminate mass murderers like this. Failing to do so insures that there will be more.

      Posted July 24, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      I would like to see this man tried w/ due process within 30 days and then executed within 60 days. I do not want to spend millions of dollars on trials and I do not want to spend $40,000/year housing him for the rest of his life.

  19. Jonathan
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    Jason makes what may be some valid arguments. The validity of his arguments depends on whether he practices what he preaches. Does Jason keep a gun in Japan, where they are not necessary, or just in the U.S. where, as he argues, it is part of the culture? If he carries, or even keeps a gun in Japan, I would contend that he is using NRA talking points as an excuse for concealing paranoia. If he is able to differentiate between the personal need for guns in the two cultures, I would say he has made some valid points and that banning guns in the U.S. would be tantamount to banning the culture.

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I do not keep a gun in Japan. I could apply to own a hunting firearm, but it’s a very lengthy process and I’m not interested in hunting in Japan, anyway. Thank you for agreeing that gun ownership is part of America’s culture.

  20. Derrick
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    I just wanted to share some information for those concerned about the clip size. A standard clip holds 30 rounds and takes about 1 second to change. All this fuss over the 100 round clip amounts to about 3 seconds and 10 rounds.

    That’s not going to change the outcome when the perp is firing at unarmed targets.

  21. DB
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    Couple of interesting reads:

    From Could You Use A Gun? at The Well Armed Woman:

    “Before you purchase a firearm for your self-protection you MUST fully consider the following questions: Do I believe that there are circumstances that make it acceptable to kill another human? Could I really aim my gun at another human being and pull the trigger? In all honesty, if you cannot answer yes to both, you are not ready and should not own a firearm.”

    From the June 25, 2012 article, Three Ways Carrying a Gun Makes You A Better Person by Robert Farago:

    1. Carrying a gun make you more law-abiding

    Gun rights are subject to instant and permanent revocation. If you somehow make the transition from law-abiding citizen to convicted criminal, your ability to keep and bear arms will not make the jump with you.

    2. Carrying a gun make you less confrontational

    Anyone who carries a gun who has an ounce of common sense (and tons of people answer to that description) does everything they can to avoid interpersonal conflict. They realize that a shouting match can lead to a physical confrontation that can lead to police interaction that can lead to the loss of their gun rights. Not to mention the possibility that they’ll have to use their firearm, which also leads to the loss of their gun rights.

    3. Carrying a gun makes you a better parent

    Carrying a gun is the best way to teach your kids about gun safety. When they have a parent or two that carries, sprogs learn by example that a firearm is to be treated with respect and vigilance. Their close encounters of the carrying kind helps keep them safe from other people’s firearms because, after all, we live in a country literally littered (on occasion) with guns. Children learn to leave guns alone, and how to handle them if they need to.

  22. Kent
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    Without weighing in on either side of the emotional arguements, the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut say that the people have the right to own guns. That is all I need to know as a resident of Connecticut.

  23. Desiree
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    I am a woman who lives in Texas and I have a concealed handgun license. While I believe that every citizen has the right to protect themselves and their loved ones what scared the hell out me was witnessing the process of obtaining a concealed handgun license. I was under the mistaken impression that a person had to have clue when it came to something as deadly serious as carrying a gun and potentially killing a person – I was wrong. Prior to obtaining my license I attended classes ranging from handling, shooting and treating gunshot wounds. When the class for the license came around I expected the other participants to be equally as knowledgeable but I was very wrong. One gal despite having never TOUCHED a gun was being allowed to obtain a license. Another person couldn’t manage to shoot the target instead hitting the ground. And one unforgettable individual committed the cardinal sin – turning to ask the instructor a question and pointing his weapon at everyone in the process.
    I was genuinely scared by what I saw. I have no doubt that should any of the aforementioned individuals find themselves confronted with a situation such as the recent tragedy in Colorado they would hurt or kill more innocents than perpetrators.

    That said, I will never ever vote for prohibiting gun ownership but what I will vote for is a FAR more stringent process when it comes to obtaining a gun and license to carry a gun. NO ONE should be permitted to obtain a gun or concealed license without taking a class that places you in a controlled but high pressure active shooter scenario. Having witnessed inexperienced individuals obtain a concealed license I now know that if I ever find myself in a situation such as the Colorado shooter I will first and foremost seek cover because the well-meaning guy behind you may be the one who kills you and not the lunatic in the mask.
    Moreover, NO ONE should be permitted to obtain a license without first having taken at least one course in critical trauma care. Nothing opens your eyes to reality of using your gun than seeing how quickly you lose blood when shot (it is staggering). I now carry multiple tourniquets, combat gauze and more .
    All in all obtaining my license was a good thing. Once I began learning about guns I was introduced to the entire concept of self-defense and it opened my eyes. I learned how vital it is to be aware of your surroundings. How many of you walk or drive and never look around? I see countless women everyday jogging and walking with their earbuds in and utterly oblivious to their surroundings. We focus on the most tragic and public of events but every day someone is assaulted in your community and you never hear about it. Check out RAIDS online if you want to get an idea of the crime taking place in YOUR community right now.
    So, once you finish up on how terrible guns are and how no one should own one what will you do if god forbid a person with a knife attacks you in the grocery store parking lot? What will you do if your home is invaded? Can you defend your wife and kids? You do not have to own a gun but do you have a clue on how to defend yourself in the slightest? Additionally, ask yourself this? How many people sitting in that theater that day had a serious “gut feeling” that this guy is not right but polite society dictates that you stay quiet.
    Guns and the act of learning about them made me realize that I need to listen to that voice that says “danger” and knowing that I can counter the threat is a freedom I will always uphold.
    So before you pound the table on prohibiting gun ownership take a simple basic class and then decide.

  24. Hal
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I’m not convinced that armed patrons in the theater would have saved injuries/deaths. I imagine just as many people would have been caught in the crossfire. Thieves robbing an internet cafe would certainly be scared, but a mentally sick person with plenty of protection and ammo does not fear being shot at. Also, many of the patrons would think there were multiple criminals/assassins if several people throughout the theater started getting up and firing weapons. I understand people having a gun in their house or at work (if it’s a convenience store for example), but not carrying them on your person everywhere you go. There are people who would pull a gun if someone continued to throw popcorn in their direction or kept kicking their seat.

    • Don
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      This is something that has been discussed at length. What might have been done depended on the presence of those capable of doing it, and I’ve not heard of any attempt to stop the attacker at all.

      I am a qualified concealed carry as well as an army veteran. I recognize that in order to prevent a murder in many situations, one must face the risk and stop it rather than run from it. I recognize body armor, and I know there are always target spots that are unprotected. One may have to cover and wait for an opportunity, but this guy was busy and probably never even considered that someone might shoot back.

      The gun I carry is laser sighted, and I have practiced using it to build skill hitting specific target points consistently in the quickest fashion possible, because that is the way you stop an aggressive threat. Hits — not noise — and it only takes one. Body armor is of limited value when you face an accurate defender. Put the red dot on the head , pull the trigger…end of story. I, for one, would have done exactly that.

  25. Bill Lovins
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I have been a hunter and gun advocate almost all my life but I have never been able to understand the need for a semi-automatic rifle of the “AK-47 type” or the need for a large-capacity magazine of any kind. It’s easy to imagine a situation where such a mass-killing device might be needed, but these situations are very unlikely.
    The NRA has been advocating these mass-killing devices for several years now and I can no longer support their position. Rocket launchers, 50 caliber weapons, yea gods! Having said all this, I believe that a Concealed Handgun Permit is a good thing.

    • Dave
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Guns are not just for hunting or protecting yourself from criminals. They are also to protect you from the government. Please remember the biggest mass killings of all time have come from governments. The party in power just disarms the people, rounds up the ones causing the problem, and then silences them. Hitler, Stalin, Sadam, Pol Pot, etc. These are just a few in the last 100 years that have caused the deaths of thousands. We may still be a British colony if our forefathers didn’t have the same type weapons as the British army. The right to keep and bear arms is too important to give up for any reason.

    • DBinSD
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 4:10 am | Permalink

      You can always tell when someone has a firm grasp of the issues when they trot out the inevitable “But, But, But, the NRA, man! They want people to have, like, rocket launchers and stuff!” I’ve been a member of the NRA for decades, and have never in my life seen them take the position that John Q. Public should be permitted to own a rocket launcher. Nor have you.

      And your comment that “you don’t really *need* a ____” is a completely nonsensical argument. You don’t *need* your Prius, or your lattes, or your iPhone, or your Beanie Babies, or any number of other things that you have. Our system of government is *not* built on the idea that some clown in Washington gets to decide what you “need.” If we did, we’d all be driving little Smart cars and eating environmentally sensitive tofu pucks.

      Last but not least, are you so dim that you really think the anti-gun folks are going to be satisfied with preventing people from having 30 round magazines? When those were outlawed back in 1994, I don’t really recall the Brady Campaign saying, “Neato – we’re fine now. No need for more gun control.” Hell, those magazines are still illegal in California, yet I haven’t gone six months without reading about a new “reasonable gun control law” that some goofball legislator wants to impose out here. The only “reasonable” gun control in the minds of those bozos is a complete ban on firearms for everyone – except their private security details, of course.

  26. Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Permalink


    Your posting of this video only serves to further blur the critical distinction between statistically valid versus anecdotal evidence — on a VERY critical issue. And your reason for doing so is clear — it stirs the emotions, gets people worked up and brings eyeballs to your blog.

    Unfortunately, as voters, we don’t make smart decisions from a place of anger, upset and vitriol. To formulate policies that reduce risk (death or injury to human beings in this case) requires a calm, cold-eyed look at all the facts – ALL of them – especially the ones that don’t fit our built-in confirmation bias. (Ironically, in your role as an investment adviser, you seem to understand this.)

    Calmly and objectively gathering solid, verifiable, reliable statistics and putting them into context is boring work, something not suited to our drama / entertainment driven culture where the loudest, most shrill voice get the votes. Please keep this in mind when choosing what to post — especially where lives are at stake. So, no we can’t ‘Outlaw Crazy’ but we certainly CAN minimize their opportunities to kill people in mass.

    • Charlie
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      But at what cost? What amount of your liberties are you willing to give up to allow the Gov’t to keep you safe? “Those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither.”

    • Jay
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Lyn Edwin Cathey: Statistically speaking, as per FBI official statistics, states with the least restrictive gun laws have the lowest casualties from violence. On the other hand, states with the most restrictive laws are the most dangerous to live in.

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink


      I was not seeking to boost traffic to my site by publishing this article. It expresses my honest feelings on what I agree is a critical subject, and I invited only my usual readership to participate in the discussion. I did not announce the article to wider media. Even if I had, though, what would be the problem? It’s for just such times as these that our freedom of speech was created.

      On whether the video is anectodal: No more so than using the incident in Aurora as evidence that guns need to be outlawed. The Aurora shooting is a case where a crazy in possession of guns killed people; the Ocala robbery is a case where the presence of a concealed carry prevented a violent situation from harming innocent people.

      My position is that one or more armed patrons in the Aurora theater could have limited the damage done by the attacker, and possibly prevented it entirely if somebody had acted quickly enough. The Ocala security camera footage provides timely and factual evidence in support of that position.

  27. Michael Nettrour
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    The killer is cold blooded. He planned this. He would have killed with a bomb or booby trap if a gun was unavailable. There have been mass killers long before guns came along. Mike Huckabee has it right, we have a sin problem.

  28. Tim
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I could not agree more, Jason. Bad people will always find a way to kill, whether its guns, knives, sulfuric acid, or whatever. Outlawing guns or having stricter gun control laws don’t mean that the bad guys won’t be able to get a hold of them somehow. If every citizen was required to learn how to protect themselves with a gun, I also believe there would have been a lot less dead in the theater in Colorado.

  29. Al
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m a great fan of this service and admire Mr. Kelly’s fine writing and analysis. I was therefore very discouraged to read his thoughts on shooting. Look, it’s not complicated. There are disturbed violent people everywhere — but in the United States they have unlimited access to weapons. As a result, the murder rate in the United States is completely out of scale when compared to other Western countries. We set limits on all kinds of behavior and activity — hairdressing, for instance — but no reasonable limits and conditions on gun ownership.

    I was a newspaper editor for 20 years in an American city. All summer long, teenagers shot at the high school, at the park, on the corner. The same arguments and conflicts in another country would likely result in a beating, or perhaps a stabbing now and then. But the availability — ubiquity — of cheap handguns made all the difference, unfortunately. And always someone had to make the argument that it was “cultural” or “inevitable.” It also created, frankly, a pretty paranoid and dangerous police force. Many of the kids killed were shot by cops who reasonably assumed that they were in danger — sometimes they were, sometimes not — but the stakes were alway so high. The guns raised the stakes.

    Responsible people need to stop being apathetic or simply saying, “It’s too late to do anything about it.”

    • Jay
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink


      People in Switzerland have much easier access to assault weapons, they are required to own them! Lets take care of the people who go bonkers instead of controlling weapons. Let’s learn how to help people who need help! Let’s follow the Swiss model.

  30. Mike Collins
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Well stated Jason,

    This is not the time to stand on the political dung heap and crow. It is to our shame that this is happening, but hardly a surprise. These tragic incidents are the acts of deranged cowards, who know there will be no real consequence for their actions. Be it that they are wannabe members of an extremist group, card carrying terrorists, or some nut with an ax to grind. They are bullies pure and simple, and the only cure for a bully is to put them on the collective butts and do it as hard and violently as possible. If they don’t get up…so much the better.

    Think on this, if one person in that theater was armed for protection and gave this fool the hard goodbye, they would be a hero…what would that say to those who are wringing their hands now and talking the same tired old arguments about gun control and/or societal influence? A bad guy would be dead, more good people would be alive. If this were the case, maybe, just maybe the next sociopath will think twice.

    There are those who want us to be a nation of sheep, content to graze in the big green field…clueless that the wolves are watching and waiting. The bottom line is there are bad people out there. To paraphrase: ‘the only thing needed for evil to triumph….is for good people to do nothing’. I love my country, and I trust we will not go quietly into the night. My heart goes out to the victims of this tragedy, they carry no blame and cannot be judged.

    I pray that the next time this happens (and it will)…. a hero will rise.

    “While we all fear evil, we should fear the indifference of good men more.”

    Mike Collins

  31. Eric
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink


    I’ve been an unsubscribed follower of your letter for many moons now. Very well said and I agree 100% with your gun control stance. You may have just bought my subscription. It’s great to see a prominent author taking a common sense approach to these situations.

    Look at this video of a 71-year-old man saving the day during an Internet cafe robbery in Florida:

    Gotta love gun control in Florida. Notice how about half the patrons are in shock, but this old geezer saved their lives.

    Keep up the great work.


    • Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Amazing footage, Eric. Thank you for supplying such a timely contribution to our discussion.

      This incident happened at the Palms Internet Cafe in Ocala, Florida on July 13, 2012 — just a week before the Aurora shooting. From the Ocala Star-Banner:

      Samuel Williams, 71, who fired the shots, has a concealed weapons permit, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Under Florida law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he or she fears death or serious injury to themselves or others. As long as the person isn’t committing a crime and is in a place where he or she has a right to be, they are considered to be acting within the law.

      Williams, who lives in Ocala, could not be reached for comment on Monday. But at least one of his 30 fellow patrons at the cafe wants to thank him.

      “I think he is wonderful. If he wouldn’t have been there, there could have been some innocent people shot,” said Mary Beach.

      Keep Samuel Williams in mind as you re-read the earlier discussion about whether an “average Joe” with a concealed weapon could have helped in Aurora. Maybe we should use the term “average Sam” instead.

  32. Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    I too find myself asking where the weak link was in all of this, and have come to a completely different conclusion. Yes, there are crazy people, but that does not relieve us of the responsibility to structure our laws and public places in a way to maximize the safety of citizens.

    In this case, I was brought back to the curious practice of theaters across the country to have no concern about the security of their back exit doors. After a bit of thought, I realized it must be because of the compensation structure of theaters. Most of the ticket revenue goes to the studios, while the theaters make most of their revenue on concessions. Thus, theaters don’t care how you get in, as long as you stay and buy some snacks. This incentive structure has made it easy to sneak into theaters for decades just by having a friend let you in the back.

    One simple change that could be made is to make the back door exits for emergency only and install sensors so that front staff are alerted when the door is opened. This is reasonable since in a real emergency the alert system should be there anyway. To make it a requirement would have the added benefit of alerting staff to illegal exit and entry.

  33. John S. Long Jr.
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Jason, I agree with you wholeheartedly. More laws won’t prevent violent acts from determined individuals. I am saddened by this senseless act and wish we lived in a perfect world, however we don’t! You are correct in your assessment stating that one well trained, armed citizen in that theater could have prevented countless deaths by engaging the shooter and stopping the threat. I have been in law enforcement for 34 years and it is my opinion that if more people were well trained and armed, we would see a different outcome when these types of situations occur.
    Good article,

    • Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Thank you, John. My uncle was a police officer in Norwood, Ohio and he once told me the same thing about the importance of well-trained, armed citizens. You might also enjoy this discussion on that subject, right here in the comment stream.

  34. G. Shaylor
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I, too, grew up in a house with guns, guns for hunting, antique guns, guns for historical reenactments.  And, when living alone, I have always kept a hand gun by the bed in case of intruders.  I have also sat on the edge of the bed with the gun in my mouth.  (Too much clean up for someone else, such bad manners!).  My father is a dead-eye who hunts only for the pot ever since his best friend was killed in a hunting accident.  Although I am a liberal, when it comes to guns, I have mixed experience and mixed convictions.

    I believe a mixed approach is what we need.  People do just snap, but only after long periods of building tension or illness or both.  But this doesn’t happen in a vacuum, does it?  There are many means of violence.  Oklahoma City proved that.  Japan has a tremendous suicide rate.  The United States leads the world in murder.  Doesn’t that point to some common ground, call it “snapping” for the moment, and to a cultural difference in where the violence of the snap is directed?  

    Perhaps we should approach the problem from many directions.

    If we keep guns, we must, like your father, teach safety and back it up with gun locks and locked cases or safes.  But I would omit teaching children the lesson that they should fear the government or the military or society run amok.  They can study history when they have a little more maturity on their clocks and more experience of the world.  Fear and anger are two sides of one coin, sometimes justified, but more often simply self-destructive.  Scientists and doctors call it stress.  Why pile it on children when the schoolyard will teach them plenty?

    Why not emphasize the lessons that make children grow up and collect socks for disaster victims?

    As for the schoolyard, the current attempts to stop bullying may be one of the best ways to stop snapping before it starts.  

    Snapping that leads to suicide or murder could also be addressed by changing our knowledge and attitudes about mental illness.  Only 2% of depressives get the right medication in the right amount for the right period.  This drastic reduction starts because only 50% of depressives ever ask for any kind of help.  And of that 50% only half are given any help. What would we do if the same were true of cancer or diabetes?  

    As for the hairball of gun laws we have, we may have to pick it apart hair by hair.  Why not start again from the point of common sense?  What you said about the rifle over the mantelpiece being no match for modern weaponry is an excellent point.  Why not keep it?  Buying twelve Glocks a week?  Let’s think, what kind of person buys 624 per year?  Many men, including Dad, hunt with muzzle loaders: one shot, one freezer shelf of free-range meat.  What hunter worth his or her powder needs twenty shots or thirty?  A three-day delay for a woman with a cheating husband:  good thinking.  Three days for a woman with a stalker:  excuse me?  And so on.

    Let’s find a golden mean, not settle for lead.

  35. Katie
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink


    Here is a link to a website that goes into detail regarding the results of Australia’s gun buy-back program in 1996. It is long and detailed, but someone may be interested:

  36. Tom Ray
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Great job, couldn’t have said it better!

    A cop that lived next door to me once told me when I asked him about gun control, “I’ve never taken a legal gun off a suspect and no gun law is going to make this job any safer. Laws are for honest people.”

  37. Posted July 22, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Good letter, Jason.

    I grew up in the UK (strict gun laws) but right now I would say it’s a more violent coutry than the US — it also has some crazy laws regarding a citizen defending his/her self, which I wont go into here. Nevertheless, your e-mail made a lot of sense to me.

    John Kilby

  38. Rae in Florida
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I have been training with Thom Bond of He has a few training videos on YouTube you can find by searching with his name. The roots of violence are in our daily patterns of communication. 1,000 people from a number of countries are in the online compassion course. Changing these patterns is both possible and necessary to preserve our planet for the future. People are, by nature, interdependent. We need to learn compassionate communication.

    Marshall Rosenberg has been successful at helping people in war torn countries and in refugee camps all over the world for 40 years or more. Imagine the people of Rwanda learning to rebuild their country after genocide — learning new ways of treating their countrymen. We are growing in many countries all over the world. I encourage you to count the list of certified trainers.

  39. Dan in Colorado
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Guns for hunting or family protection, alright, but let’s talk real gun control or restrictions or whatever you want to call it, not abolishing guns. It will never happen, and shouldn’t.

    The weapons this guy had and the amount of ammunition (I think I heard 6,000 rounds) — it’s just crazy that someone can acquire all that and not send up a red flag. Crazy, just like he is.

    Once someone gets his hands on all that and starts shooting, no “regular Joe” is going to stop him.

    To Ralph’s comment, “To date we have not had a break-in or anyone lurking around our property”: Well, neither have I, and I do not and never have owned a gun.

    • Posted July 22, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      I think most people agree that some line must be drawn. Some draw it at automatic weapons, others at ammunition quantity, others at the number of guns per household.

      The problem is that wherever we drew the line, we’d probably end up restricting freedom for no improvement in safety. I lived in adjacent Studio City at the time of the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, in which two bank robbers unloaded 2,000 rounds at police during their attempted escape. What did they use? Illegally modified fully automatic assault weapons. A law against fully automatic weapons would do nothing to prevent such acts, as the weapons used in that case were already illegal. Whatever rules and laws we come up with, somebody will get around them and that somebody will be a criminal.

      I disagree with your statement that no “regular Joe” could have stopped the attacker in the Aurora shooting. The presence of a citizen with a concealed handgun permit and a pistol could have stopped the crime before 12 people lay dead. Would that citizen have needed a fully automatic or otherwise extreme type of assault weapon? No. A run-of-the-mill pistol would have sufficed, given a modicum of skill. Regardless of how much ammunition or firepower the attacker carried up the aisle of the theater, a single accurate shot to his head would have ended the escapade.

      How likely would the attacker have been to commit the crime if he’d known that one or several audience members were armed that night? Not likely, I guess.

      Because nobody was armed, we find sad stories like this one from the Denver Post: “Matt McQuinn died protecting his girlfriend. As a gunman calmly walked up the aisle of an Aurora movie theater Friday firing at moviegoers, the 27-year-old Ohio native dove on top of Samantha Yowler. Her brother Nick Yowler, 32, also tried to shield her, said Robert L. Scott, attorney for both the McQuinn and Yowler families.”

      If only McQuinn or Yowler or somebody else in the theater had been armed, they would have been able to do more than just offer their bodies as shields.

      • Posted July 22, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Spot on, Jason, with your original post, and spot on with the reply above. I would add one thing: even one LUCKY shot from a carrying patron might have stopped the carnage, too!

        My sympathy to all the victims and their families and to everyone who denies the logic and arguments presented here and everywhere else in favor of licensing and keeping firearms.

        But not without a training course!

      • Posted July 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Want evidence that an average Joe could have made a difference in the theater that night? Don’t miss this video of a 71-year-old “average Sam” with a concealed weapon thwarting two armed robbers in a Florida Internet cafe just one week prior to the Aurora shooting.

        • Dan in Colorado
          Posted July 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          I just finished watching the Florida “average Sam” video. All situations are not the same and nobody can say what would happen in any given situation for certain. But two guys with pistols coming into a small well-lit internet bar and not firing a shot. Compared to a guy throwing gas canisters and coming into a crowed dark theater firing away with a auto or semi-automatic assault weapon is different.

          I have read your background with guns and several others that have weapon expertise that feel they might have made a difference, and maybe could have. But I do not consider you to be “average Joes.”

          Colorado has pretty liberal concealed weapon laws (I feel). This guy did not know or care if someone else was carrying (except for all the armor he was wearing).

          Criminals will always get guns. But usually they use them to get what they want ($$$?) and leave and mass amounts of innocent people are not shot. How many innocent people in the North Hollywood robbery were shot?

          These mass shootings of innocent people are not committed by people with any criminal background it seems. Just people who have gone off the deep end for some reason and have legal access to crazy weapons. What these people want is death and mayhem.

          We can debate this forever and it has been and will be. But I just do not think the more is better answer is the right one. I wish I knew the right answer to violence like this.

          My sympathy to all the families that lost loved ones and my thoughts for a full and speedy recovery to all the injured.

      • Clemens
        Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

        Imagine if half of the audience would have carried guns and the result if most of those “average Joes” would have tried to stop the shooter. You might end up with those “average Joes” firing at each other. The craziness and confusion of the moment when someone starts to fire in a packed movie theatre — I don’t think many people would keep a calm head.

        Also, if you take a look at this list of countries ranked by firearm-related death rates, you’ll notice that the U.S. is not in a very flattering spot.

        • Luigi
          Posted July 24, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

          And what is a “flattering spot”? Last? Next to last?

          60% of the rate is suicide. You really think that a prospective suicide will say: “Gee, I don’t have a gun, I can’t kill myself”?

          Your comment on “average Joes” shooting at each other is well taken. The question is: “Will average Joes shooting at each other kill 12 and wound 50 under the same circumstances?”

          Obviously, any answer can play… so your point, while valid, is irrelevant.

        • Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          I mentioned the gun/suicide discussion in the main article, but the offering of this firearm-related death rate list raises the point again. Luigi caught it.

          To make it clear, though, this list of countries ranked by suicide rates shows Japan’s to be 24 per 100,000 people per year and America’s to be 12. This is further evidence behind this sentence in my article: “Japan has no guns but a reported suicide rate twice that of America’s.”

          Most of America’s gun-related deaths are by suicide, but America’s suicide rate is half that of a country that has almost no guns. While a gun provides an easy way to commit suicide, the availability of guns does not increase the suicide rate.

          Combine America’s non-suicide firearm death rate with its suicide rate, and the tally is 16 deaths per 100,000 — 33 pct less than Japan’s suicide rate of 24 per 100,000.

          • Clemens
            Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t point out that list because of the suicide statistic.
            If someone really wants to kill himself he will find a way but he won’t kill 10+ people in a cinema by hanging them.
            Discussing suicide statistics seems to be off the point in my opinion.

            Sort the list I linked to by the gun-related homicides column and take a look at those numbers:
            Japan: 0.02 per 100k
            England: 0.07
            Germany: 0.22
            US: 4.14 per 100k

            So for the US that is 200 times as many fire-arm related homicides as in Japan?

            Also while Japan may have more suicides it has far less homicides than the US

  40. Mike
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason,
    Tell me under what circumstances one in good conscience would need multiple automatic weapons and would you give me a few samples (or just one) that anybody you know actually defended him/her self with a weapon, especially an automatic weapon? Don’t take what you think for granted. Support it with a few pieces of facts. How about that? I hope you answer my email publicly to all your subscribers. Or even better, write a piece, as you are a professional writer, about this matter with some depth and real content. 


    • Dave
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink


      I’ll answer your question…kind of.

      Your question is completely flawed from the beginning. You assume there needs to be a statistical or scientific study to show that guns are used for good more often than bad. The problem is that no one has to prove this. Guns are a right, not a need! No one has to prove anything. There is a reason for Patric Henry’s quote “give me liberty or give me death.” Our founding fathers knew that freedom meant there would be dangers but our founding fathers also believed it would be better to live free and dangerous than safe as a slave. Freedom is worth the price every time and that has been proven over and over again throughout history.

      So you see your problem is the use of the word “need.” We don’t have to “need” a gun to own one. It is a right. I can own a AR-15 just for the simple fact that I enjoy shooting it because that is my right as a law-abiding citizen who fought for that right in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, I just finished a wonderfully fun shooting competition this weekend with a bunch of law-abiding citizens exercizing their RIGHT, not need, to to shoot an “automatic” weapon this weekend. By the way I suspect your perception of what an automatic weapon is, is flawed. You may want to look it up. Lots of weapons are considered automatic that may surprise you.

      If you want to live safe as a slave I can make many suggestions. Patric Henry is one of my ancestors and this country was founded on freedom. I’ll take the dangers that come with.

    • Posted July 22, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink


      Studies on the use of guns for self-defense usually refer to an incident as a DGU, for defensive gun useage. Twenty years ago, a Florida State University study found two million DGUs per year by law-abiding citizens. Several other studies found between one million and 2.5 million DGUs per year.

      In the afterword from J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns, Gary Kleck of Florida State University (the author of the school’s study) wrote:

      The two most sophisticated national surveys are the National Self-Defense Survey done by Marc Gertz and myself in 1995 and a smaller scale survey done by the Police Foundation in 1996.

      The National Self-Defense Survey was the first survey specifically designed to estimate the frequency of defensive gun uses. It asked all respondents about both their own uses and those of other household members, inquired about all gun types, excluded uses against animals or connected with occupational duties, and limited recall periods to one and five years. Equally importantly, it established, with detailed questioning, whether persons claiming a defensive gun use had actually confronted an adversary (as distinct from, say, merely investigating a suspicious noise in the backyard), actually used their guns in some way, such as, at minimum, threatening their adversaries (as distinct from merely owning or carrying a gun for defensive reasons), and had done so in connection with what they regarded as a specific crime being committed against them.

      The National Self-Defense Survey indicated that there were 2.5 million incidents of defensive gun use per year in the U.S. during the 1988-1993 period. This is probably a conservative estimate, for two reasons. First, cases of respondents intentionally withholding reports of genuine defensive-gun uses were probably more common than cases of respondents reporting incidents that did not occur or that were not genuinely defensive. Second, the survey covered only adults age 18 and older, thereby excluding all defensive gun uses involving adolescents, the age group most likely to suffer a violent victimization.

      The authors concluded that defensive uses of guns are about three to four times as common as criminal uses of guns. The National Self-Defense Survey confirmed the picture of frequent defensive gun use implied by the results of earlier, less sophisticated surveys.

    • Charlie
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      I can tell you “what circumstances one in good conscience would need multiple automatic weapons”: When the government comes to take you to prison for expressing your 1st, 3rd, 4th or 5th Amendment rights with their military-style weapons, it’ll be your armed neighbor who’ll defend your rights for you with their multiple weapons and 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

  41. Mike
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    I agree Jason. Concealed carry permits in places like Texas and Florida are for just this sort of thing. What happens when you outlaw guns? Only the criminals have them – the law abiding, decent folks don’t.

  42. Tony Banana
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    You’re perfectly right. I go even further and say a disarming of the public is exactly what the government wants. Why? Because in the face of the destruction of the economy they’re expecting upcoming riots. In other words: They’re building a police state right now and they don’t want an armed public which could defend themselves against it. So if you ask yourself the question “cui bono?”, who benefits the most from such an incident like this shooting, then it’s clearly those who want to disarm the public. The rest is up to your imagination…

  43. Ralph Allswede
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Amen, Jason.

    I would like to see the statistics on how many crimes have been committed with legally licensed gun of any kind, by their owners! (really stupid to do so)

    For those who say we should ban guns I say, when you can prove to me that all illegal guns are off the street, I will turn in my legal ones — maybe! But then only the government would have guns — not a comforting thought.

    I let it be known that I am an NRA member and that my wife and I both have concealed weapons carry permits — to date we have not had a break-in or anyone lurking around our property. We are really very pleasant people but a little deterrence goes a long way.

  44. Mike Rofkahr
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more! When I read the details that this coward did, I turned to a guy I work with and said, “that does it, I’m getting a concealed carry license!” Guns are not the issue, people are the issue. There’s a mistake in philosophy that we are all predisposed to making, and that is that we think that we are “common man” and everyone thinks just like we do. That’s just not the case and the cold hard fact is that there are crackpots out there. There always have been. To think that we can all just get along and play like good kids is simple minded and, to be honest, ultimately irresponsible.

    • Posted July 25, 2012 at 3:26 am | Permalink


      I know exactly what you are saying. It’s similar to the fact that you ALWAYS have to drive defensively on the road, whether you have the right of way or not. It’s just smart to be proactive. However, I would be scared as hell if everywhere you were walking(grocery store, mall etc) you would have people all around you with guns. I think what we can all agree on is that guns are probably here to stay so let’s at least make education and safety and huge priority.

  45. Shirley
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Have to disagree on this one. Military style weapons have no purpose in the general population. Every culture has historical habits that are now accepted as inappropriate and often seen as immoral (slavery, child labour, wife beating-the list is long). And these reprehensible cultural habits still abound. That doesn’t make them right (or rights). An assault rifle is not a defense weapon. Their manufacture, distribution, sale and use should be closely monitored and guarded.

    And what are the stats on the use of hand guns. How often are they used to defend a family against the G men and how often are they used to kill a family member? Sure you can kill in other ways but it will take more planning and/or more effort.

    • James Wolffe
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:48 am | Permalink

      Google it. You will find three or four instances this week alone where citizens with guns saved themselves and others from harm. You can also find out that where the most violent crime happens is in cities where there are strict gun controls. Chicago, NY, DC etc.

    • David O.
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 4:20 am | Permalink

      Regarding “Military style weapons have no purpose in the general population”:

      To be more accurate this is just a predominant AR platform that military/law enforcment uses. There is one slight variation that the military’s AR platform has that the civilian model doesn’t. The military carbine has an option to shoot in “burst mode,” which in turn makes the weapon shoot 3 rounds in one trigger squeeze.

      For regulating gun purchases, I think those restrictions are already in place, for example background checks. James (the shooter), had nothing in his background to deem him disqualified from making a gun purchase.

      “Bulletproof vest or no, there are vulnerable areas and, besides, somebody shooting back would have changed the attacker’s mood in a hurry. Fewer innocent lives might have been lost”: Just wanted to include this because I couldn’t have agreed with Jason much more, and we just mentioned this at work even before I read the above article, so it really hit home.

    • Mike
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 2:03 am | Permalink

      I totally agree with Shirley. There is no reason whatsoever for someone in the general population to have access to a military-style semi-automatic weapon such as the AR-15 or Smith & Wesson M&P-15. According to some of the articles I read on this terrible tragedy, the wacko’s AR-15 actually jammed. Normally, this weapon with the high-capacity magazine he had would be able to fire 50-60 rounds per minute. Even if someone in the theater was carring a Glock 9mm, what would the odds be of that person being able to fire off a round before he was hit? And if you need to have this type of capacity as a hunter, you shouldn’t tell people you’re a hunter! If he just had a shotgun such as a Mossberg 550 (a standard home-defense shotgun), and/or handguns or other rifles, the odds of someone else incapacitating him sooner would have improved greatly.

      I am not totally against guns, but I do believe there needs to be tougher laws (i.e. limiting access to assualt weapons; mandatory training/education for gun buyers, etc.). While there will always be lawbreakers and crazies in the world, why make it any easier for them? Keeping the law is and always has been the challenge for our police and law enforcement organizations, but to not have a law making these assault type weapons illegal, is unwise. If you want to be a “patriotic” American and quote the 2nd Amendment “right to bear arms” argument, it shouldn’t be taken out of context. Anyone who talks about having the “freedom” to buy any type of assault weapon to “protect” themselves from the government/military is a quack and should leave the country and go to a third-world country; at least their argument would have some validity to it! So, should we all have access to nuclear weapons since the government has them and it’s not a “comfortable thought”?

      Having a handgun or shotgun to protect yourself and your family from crazy people, burglars, etc. is a valid argument, but to purchase them should require some type of training or testing. Do we let our teenagers get behind the wheel of a car without drivers education and then a road test? Can anyone just get in a cockpit and fly a plane? Can anyone get behind the wheel of a school bus and drive our young children to school, taking their lives in their hands? When you’re in the military, you’re trained on how to use weapons, shouldn’t there be some requirement/training for the general population when they buy a gun or rifle?

      • Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        I think a training and gun safety requirement is a good idea, as there’s no downside to boosting the population’s knowledge of and respect for firearms.

        As for whether the general population needs assault weapons: Among the guns my father owned in the arsenal I described were four AR-15s. We practiced target shooting with them, and they’re excellent firearms. The only purpose I can recall for having them was that my father wanted our family to be prepared for prolonged societal strife. At that time, people worried about a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This may seem quaint now, but it was a real fear back then. Our family kept emergency rations, medical supplies, survival equipment, guns, ammunition (and the capability to reload more), and even a Geiger counter in case the worst came to pass.

        Was that crazy? I don’t think so. The only consequence was that some of the family fortune went into supplies we never needed, and thank goodness for that. We kids learned the importance of being prepared, a lesson that has come in handy in my life, most recently during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. When the lights went out and the store shelves went empty, guess who had plenty of clean water, emergency rations, medical kits, candles, flashlights, and so on at the ready? The kid from Colorado who grew up with guns and Geiger counters. Thanks, Dad!

        That preparedness at my place and others created a citizen response that helped tremendously in the aftermath. In our case, we launched Socks for Japan. Other groups focused elsewhere. The prepared people kicked into action and helped. The unprepared needed help.

        In Japan, guns are not part of society and, therefore, not part of emergency preparedness. They’re not needed because — unlike segments of American society — Japanese society doesn’t easily break down. Harmony persists even in emergencies.

        America is not homogenous like Japan. Its citizens are not tied by a common cultural bond of the type that makes Japanese-style harmony possible. This is why breakdowns are almost a natural byproduct of emergencies in America, with looting and other violence becoming immediate concerns. When the lights go out in America, the thugs emerge.

        Combine that with guns being a part of American society that will not go away, and good citizens need firearms as part of their emergency preparations. Is an AR-15 overkill? Who’s to say? It depends on the situation that unfolds and what a person is comfortable using. There are many scenarios that would favor a weapon like the AR-15 over a shotgun or pistol or typical hunting rifle. It’s currently our right to choose whatever kind of firearm we own, and I don’t see a reason that AR-15s or other assault rifles should be stricken from the list of legally available firearms. They make for fine target practice weapons in times of peace, and worthy means of defense in times of trouble.

        Finally, to your nuclear weapons point.

        It’s off topic here because nuclear weapons are not firearms. Ditto shoulder-mounted missiles and other weapons that sometimes come up in the discussion to show that the 2nd Amendment can be taken too far. Nobody’s taking it that far, however. We need to at least restrict the discussion to legitimate firearms. Assault rifles are fair game to be raised as taking the 2nd Amendment too far, but nuclear weapons and other non-firearm weapons are not.

        Still, you pose an interesting analogy. Nuclear weapons exist and they’re not going away. That means that good nations are wise to own them as defense against bad nations getting them. Nobody trusts disarmament, so the best way to create deterrence is for everybody to own equal levels of firepower. Notice that we’ve had no world war since the invention of nuclear weapons. It’s hard to envision how two rational nations would engage in nuclear war, given the damage that even the “winner” would suffer. Thus, while we would all prefer a world without nuclear weapons, in our world the best course of action for a good nation intent on protecting itself against them is for it to maintain its own nuclear arsenal.

        I see it the same way with guns in America. They’re not going away, so the best course of action for good citizens intent on protecting themselves against them is to possess their own gun. Whether a violent threat comes from a criminal or a wayward government, armed citizens will thwart it more effectively than will their unarmed neighbors.

        • Jim
          Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

          Jason, I respect your opinion and your family heritage. However, I don’t want to have to carry a gun. In a working civilization you shouldn’t have to carry a gun to be safe. That’s what civilization is, a safe place where people can thrive.
          It just seems irrational that instruments designed solely for the purpose of killing people shouldn’t be regulated somehow. Even if the regulations aren’t overly effective, it still sends a message of what the intent of society is – that this is, or at least should be, a safe place to live.
          The need for firearms in case of a great disruption also seems irrational. If civilization falls apart individuals alone aren’t going to survive, no matter how well they are armed. Groups of people are going to survive.

  46. Bill Lovins
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Right on, Jason. So many folks have the attitude “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts.”

  47. Ben
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Guns are illegal in Mexico, look how well that is working out for them. They are afraid to leave their homes.

    • Mike Siegfried
      Posted July 22, 2012 at 4:49 am | Permalink

      Fortunately, they have Eric Holder and our Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to get them all the guns they need ala Fast & Furious. Oh wait, I forgot. We supplied the bad guys.

  48. Wendy
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    And I grew up in the UK when times were peaceful…we seemed to manage quite well…I t was a culture shock to come to the USA and to understand the dynamics of gun ownership and to read about multiple shootings and murders every day. I am so very sad for the kids and their is no easy road ahead..and will take determination and will to forgive and move on in their healing process..
    So today I am more subdued than usual and my only focus is to bring love and healing to a truly awful is a shift in consciousness, the way we think that will change the world..namaste Jason, friends..

  49. John
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    That was one of the best explanations I have come across. As a native Texan who grew up around guns now living in Canada, I have to say that I like the way the Canadians handle guns. If you want one, great, but you must take a safety course. We could learn a little from that. My mom even “packs heat” in her little purse in Dallas, TX but she took a safety course before purchasing the pistol. I just wanted to share that example. The idea of mandating a safety course wouldn’t necessarily reduce the number of “incidents” (it could) but it could help put “gun ownership” in a different light for those who are against it. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a sensitive issue.

  50. Kareti
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I come from India, settled now for more than 35 years in USA. I still wonder whether any one seriously studied impact of guns ( that too Glocks and other quick firing guns) — how many saved innocent lives vs. harmed. What about all those countries where these types of guns are not freely available for public use and the killings of innocents ( no. of deaths / Million).
    I know the gun lobbyists will never agree for any meaningful controls of such type of guns.

  51. Lillian Williams
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Jason, you are so right. I was brought up the way you were, and completely agree with the piece you wrote. Very well written.

    Lil Williams

  52. June
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Permalink


    Very well said. Thank you.

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