William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE GUN DEBATE – AT 11:53 A.M. ET:  It is revolting and sickening – pathetically ignorant politicians vying with pathetically ignorant "journalists" to see who can make the most irresponsible comments following the tragedy in Newtown.

Has anyone watched CNN on this issue?  There have been some good reports at the network, but many are blatant examples of groveling to the liberal audience, no facts needed.

There are solid arguments all around the issue of gun control.  I don't think any side has all right answers, and I don't think the troops on any side are all angels.  There are plenty of people with a hefty self-interest in this debate.  But I reserve my greatest contempt for the automatic, unthinking gun-control crowd that crawls out of the woodwork after each tragedy and announces its own moral superiority...but never comes up with an idea that can actually work.  They come up with notions that make them feel good about themselves, and get them invited to the next fashionable cocktail party in Manhattan or Georgetown.

As I've said in this space, I have no problem whatever with thoughtful, effective measures that can reduce gun violence.  What I cannot stand is gumming up the debate with egotistical nonsense. 

There is a piece circulating that is one of the best I've ever read on the subject of gun control.  I urge you to read it.  It's by an individual with vast experience.  Here is a quote.  Whether you agree or disagree, please consider what he's saying:

The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again.

Police are awesome. I love working with cops. However any honest cop will tell you that when seconds count they are only minutes away. After Colombine law enforcement changed their methods in dealing with active shooters. It used to be that you took up a perimeter and waited for overwhelming force before going in. Now usually as soon as you have two officers on scene you go in to confront the shooter (often one in rural areas or if help is going to take another minute, because there are a lot of very sound tactical reasons for using two, mostly because your success/survival rates jump dramatically when you put two guys through a door at once. The shooter’s brain takes a moment to decide between targets). The reason they go fast is because they know that every second counts. The longer the shooter has to operate, the more innocents die.

However, cops can’t be everywhere. There are at best only a couple hundred thousand on duty at any given time patrolling the entire country. Excellent response time is in the three-five minute range. We’ve seen what bad guys can do in three minutes, but sometimes it is far worse. They simply can’t teleport. So in some cases that means the bad guys can have ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes to do horrible things with nobody effectively fighting back.

So if we can’t have cops there, what can we do?

The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started. 

COMMENT:  Please read the whole piece.  It demonstrates the importance of knowledge and experience.  There is no one answer to these mass killings.  There will be many steps that will have to be taken, but I doubt if they'll be taken soon. 

And it would be nice if the news media would help us with thoughtful discussion and real research, not the kind of stuff we've been getting from Piers Morgan and Soledad O'Brien at CNN.

December 22, 2012