Clark County School District has been having a rash of gun incidents lately. At Canyon Springs High School, a 16 year old shot another student near the ball fields. One student brought a BB gun to school. A 9 year old brought an unloaded gun to class. In the 1980s, gun incidents resulted in banning campus carry; not just the intended criminal charges for gun-toting gangbangers.
Such a "simple" legislative solution like a California style gun ban appears on the horizon.
For these younger kids that take guns to school, there is a simple solution that does not involve the DA trying to press child endangerment charges. NRS 202.300 adequately covers a 9 year old grabbing an unsecured handgun. Of course child endangerment is a felony, which means that DA Wolfson can take away the 9 year old's parent's guns.
A 9 year old should be better educated not to play with guns the same way most children are taught to run away from strangers. As one instructor said to me; "Why don't we hear about children catching on fire?" That's because children are taught that fire is dangerous and to stay away with it. If STOP-DROP-AND ROLL can be taught to kids, why can't we do the same thing with guns?
The NRA has just such a program. The problem is that schools don't teach it and so-called "gun safety" organizations don't teach actual gun safety either. Using NRA material in class would probably be a fire-able offense for even a tenured teacher. In my days in law enforcement, we had boxes of unused Eddie Eagle material sitting in the storage room of the police station.
If children are taught to leave guns alone, run away, and tell an adult, many of these tragedies would be averted. Schools can't control bad parents who leave guns lying around, but they can at least try–and have a duty–to teach kids a mental fail-safe. It's not as if they don't step in to parental territory already; sex ed is a prime example.
The one real measure that the school board is blind to is actual gun safety education for young kids. No more students dying at home playing with guns and no more unauthorized show-and-tell out of a backpack. And just maybe, if they get serious about educating kids about basic gun safety.
The problem of violent teens is a cultural one that education will not solve. The black community is the main source of the problem; a group that is bereft of good parenting and glorifies the ghetto and gangster lifestyle. Discipline at home, quality role models, and a community-wide rejection of violence is the only way to solve this problem. I'm not sure schools can teach morality.
Nevada's Own Gun-Free Micronation
Did you know that Nevada has its own gun-free micronation? That's right, one-acre of the Dayton Valley is the gun-free and independent Molossia, the creation of President Kevin Baugh. The video explains it better than I can.
I took a trip there and documented my findings, but could not clear customs so I didn't try to enter (and I don't smoke weed so you guess why).
Under "Customs Regulations", "Firearms, ammunition, explosives, drugs and tobacco are all prohibited."
I did some research to see if this was just because drugs are illegal and Baugh is a non-smoker, but apparently the Republic of Molossia is a progressive republic and progressives see guns as bad. Sorta like California, except Baugh doesn't take himself as seriously as California takes itself.
The reason I don't think the gun-free zone is just a sensible anti-assassination precaution because Molossia's April 2018 newsletter praised the March for Our Lives rally in Reno, which the Baugh's attended in support.
Readers are reminded not to attempt an invasion of Molossia because the President may very well hypocritically own firearms for his defense like Nancy Pelosi has armed bodyguards and also as Nevada does not recognize Molossia's independance, the Storey County sheriff will kick your ass.
A Las Vegas resident was detained by LVMPD Friday Sept. 14 while he was wearing a plate carrier (chest rig vest), his Glock, and an extra magazine. Per the citizen, YouTube username Pizzazz Picasso, stated he was detained and handcuffed. The citizen has not (as of yet) explained why he was out on the street with a plate carrier and a GoPro camera. Disclaimer: we do not have the full video, we do not have the bodycam video, and we do not have the 911 call and radio traffic.
There are two issues here:
Wearing a plate carrier in public will generate negative attention; something that any reasonably intelligent person should expect. Wearing a plate carrier in public is more than likely done deliberately to get attention from the public or the police. Because of today’s sad state of affairs, the average person is likely to think there is something dangerous or illegal afoot when they see someone wearing tactical gear for apparently no reason.
One’s belief of what is constitutionally permissible or what “should” be considered un-alarming by society does mean everyone else thinks the same way. The ideal is not reality. People tend to take away negative experiences more than they do positive ones. The discreet open carry in the grocery store that they probably didn’t even notice won’t stick in their memory as much as a guy on a street corner in a “flak jacket” arguing with a cop.
Open carry as a reasonable, normal, everyday practice is harmed when people tote rifles or wear unnecessary tactical kit and then become indignant when the police respond. People ignorant about the Second Amendment and open carry do not understand what we gun folks intrinsically understand. We might regard a plate carrier as “different strokes,” like wearing a kilt, but they see it as highly usual and an indication of danger.
If there is no reason to do it, don’t do it. Elsewhere I have discussed a similar issue of long-gun open carry protests and the problems they present. That being said, it does not excuse LVMPD from rising to the take the bait and illegally detaining someone.
Open carry is not a reason to be detained, even if it is weird or appears unethical. A call of a man wearing a plate carrier alone is not reasonable suspicion for a detention; perhaps the caller exaggerated Will's behavior. If the caller claimed Will was brandishing, police would have additional grounds, though wisely taken with a grain of salt, to effect a brief detention to establish if there is a crime.
We have to realize that the average person's opinion is the legal standard; not that of a well-informed cop or regular open carrier. Officers are obligated by most departments to contact the suspicious individual. Officers and departments must stop treating open carriers as suspicious persons without additional justification.
Ideally, if the caller is honest that the person is not doing anything dangerous or obviously illegal, the dispatcher should not put in a call for service and educate the citizen. Here’s how a citizen contact should go:
Officer: “Uh hi, we got a call. What’s going on?”
Citizen: “I’m just openly carrying and exercising my rights.”
Officer: “Okay cool. Take care.”
Citizen: “Thanks, have a nice day.”
Of course, if the cops roll up and you can immediately tell you’re going to get a ride up and down the justice shaft, it’s probably a good idea at that point to just shut up and think of your lawyer’s phone number.
Using the above cooperative model, the police did its due diligence and no one’s rights or feelings were hurt, except the ignorant citizen who called police. A really dangerous person would start running away or shooting at the police; they would not be compliant and talk about their rights.
The more you talk and the more you go round and round with the police, the more you appear like a troublemaker and the less like a freedom-loving citizen. Cops will not respect you for running your mouth making excuses, “explaining” things to them, or trying to argue. Trying to litigate your case on the street is something that criminals do and an officer will regard you with the same low opinion.
If you are doing nothing wrong and not provoking authorities, you will get more respect from police and better respect for your rights if you use them. These “confrontations” continue because we allow them, first by provoking them, then by sticking around and arguing them out. The Hiibel decision came about because Mr. Hiibel refused to “identify himself.” As a result, in Nevada all one has to do when detained by police is give their name, not an ID card. All Nevada officers should be aware of the Hiibel case.
By not jaw-jacking with officers, this already waste of time call becomes a bigger waste of their time. If all they get is “I’m exercising my rights by openly carrying,” and at most, a name, they will eventually be conditioned into that response in the future. You will not change the officer’s mind or his opinion of you by telling him how “badass” cops are, how you vote, or how much you secretly want them to like you.
Things like unnecessary tactical kit and long-gun carry are bad ambassadorship to the rest of the public. Even if it isn't actually trolling the police, that is what many see these instances as. Open carriers are portrayed poorly because there was no need to tote that rifle or wear that vest. An argumentative person decked out with tactical gear arguing that it's his right doesn't make a sympathetic character. We all remember Rosa Parks, not some angry teenage boy who yelled at the bus driver.
Las Vegas’ own KNPR featured concealed carry on the Friday Sept. 7th edition of “State of Nevada.” Guests included CCW instructor Maggie Mordaunt, Nevada conservative and NRA Membership Committee board member Niger Innis, and author Craig Collins. Collins was the anti-gun Fudd, author of Thunder in the Mountains: a memoir subtitled “A Portrait of American Gun Culture.”
At 13 years old, Collins was injured in a shooting accident where he shot himself in the foot after an negligent discharge. Collins shares hallmarks with emotional hoplopaths who have experienced a gun tragedy. He shot himself and had a harrowing journey to the hospital. His research has been centered around examining gun accidents. He has the intelligence and ability to think rationally about guns, but the emotional aspect prevents him from using those tools to come to the correct conclusions. His experiences and his coping mechanisms force him to come to an assumption that he already wants to believe.
In his interview, Collins simply gets guns all wrong. Listening to him was nearly intolerable because everything he said was incorrect or warped. Very little of what he said stands up to scrutiny. Collins denied that he is anti-gun, rather “I am anti-150k gun casualties in the United States,” and believes that it is more likely for someone to be harmed in violence, suicide, or an accident with a gun than use one positively in self-defense. He is completely wrong.
The CDC statistics on death and injuries are frequently used to showcase gun deaths and injuries. The WISQARS database records 14,415 gun homicides and 22,938 suicides in 2016 and 88,702 gun injuries from assaults and 4,357 injuries from self-harm (i.e. suicide attempt, negligence). That's a little over 100,000 criminal gun uses resulting in death or injury a year and 130,000 or so total “bad things from guns” in 2016.
Even with the most conservative estimate of defensive gun uses (in the 100,000 range), bad things with guns are generally a wash compared to saving lives and stopping crimes. But recently the expert in defensive gun use estimates Gary Kleck confirmed that there are at least one million defensive gun uses annually, perhaps as many as 2.4 million. Most defensive gun uses never result in a shot being fired. [source]
Collins no longer owns a gun, implying it is because hunting is poor in his now-home of San Diego, but as a Fudd, he might own a rifle or shotgun if he lived elsewhere. “I just don’t think that [handguns] are really great defense systems. They're cumbersome, they're dangerous and if you really want to protect your home the best thing to do is get a dog.” What an awkward way of saying he doesn’t believe in private handgun ownership.
Collins seemed to be a wealth of ignorance, misinformation, and propaganda, discounting the usefulness of handguns for self-defense. “These guns that they're making for concealed carry are actually quite dangerous. They smaller...not much bigger than a credit card...these are 9mm guns and they'll kill you just as dead as any other gun.” He complained about subcompact pistols with “hair-triggers” being put in pockets and purses. Purse and pocket carry is a bad idea, but nothing will insulate the world from ignorance and stupidity.
He sends a mixed message on the design or the user being the problem of the gun. Most production firearms, especially the subcompact concealed market, do not have “hair-triggers,” but factory triggers of around 4-5lb weight. This is totally standard. Collins is clearly complaining about striker fired guns, which, if handled negligently, as he handled his rifle, can be fired more easily than a long, heavy double-action trigger.
Collins might be a fan of NYPD weight Glock triggers, as he blamed LA County Sheriff's negligent discharge problem on striker fired guns. This totally ignores the training problems that led NYPD to adopt the heavy triggers (officers accustomed to placing their finger on revolver triggers couldn't unlearn that habit after the switch to Glock).
Frankly, there are vastly more deaths and injuries from bad drivers than there are firearm accidents. Collins' statements on women carrying guns in their purses borders on misogyny; a common anti-gun argument is that women are not safe with firearms.
Much of Collins work focuses on firearms accidents and irresponsible gun use, forming a large portion of his book (I have not read it). In researching his book, Collins said that he learned the “wild” West was extraordinarily violent. Statistically, it was, but not so much in reality as one journalist debunks:
The homicide rate was high in these towns because the population was very small. Even one murder in a town with only a few dozen residents leads to a high homicide rate. These towns were violent, but not nearly as violent as some imagine.
The notorious town of Bodie, California, had an astronomical homicide rate far in excess of even today’s Chicago; however, the town only had 29 killings in a five-year period. Chicago had 2,562 in the past five years. A small population inflates the ratio of homicides, but does not adequately represent the risk to the public nor the nature of the killings. A bare number cannot tell the story of why men killed.
Many frontier killings were done in the heat of passion among persons known to each other, usually in bars or disputes over gambling—there was little risk of today’s random violence. I wrote a little more about this in a post on the history of concealed weapon laws. We can’t look at homicide rates outside of context or extrapolate facts from the past that are no longer applicable to modern America. Using Old West violence as an influence on modern gun control is like studying wagon accidents to reduce traffic deaths.
The fact that rough, single men, usually intoxicated and surrounded by a frontier society that was permissive to violence generally goes ignored by the lightweight gun control authors, much like minority violence is ignored today. Collins complained to the San Diego Union-Tribune that the CDC doesn't track “who’s doing the shooting.” It's probably good (for hoplopaths) that they don’t because blacks, at 12-14% of the US population, disproportionately commit the majority of murders in the country.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of all homicides committed between 1980 and 2008, 47.4 percent of the victims were black while 52.5 percent of all offenders were black. Of all felony murders during the same time period, blacks accounted for 44.1 percent of those murdered while accounting for 59.9 percent of the offenders. Blacks accounted for 56.9 percent of all gun homicides. [Source]
We know who commits the murders/suicides and we know why. Families weakened by welfare—where the state replaces the need for traditional family ties—results in poor parenting, absent fathers, and gangs substituting for intimate relationships while drugs are used as an escape. Mass shootings have pointed to a general breakdown in civility between people and a huge crisis in mental health care. Vast economic changes have altered rural America, leading to the suicide spike for white men in those areas.
Addressing the murder/suicide causes requires an uncomfortable discussion about the causes that we can no longer have in America. It is an inhumane disserve, and indeed racist (in the case of minorities) to ignore root causes of violence and let it go on unchecked because speaking the truth is distressing. The only way to solve a problem is to openly admit its cause. We cannot, as Collins did, misrepresent fact and abuse logic to blame inanimate objects for human factors. Firearms are far more a tool for good than for evil or misfortune.
 Kessler, Glenn. “Rick Santorum’s misguided view of gun control in the Wild West.” Washington Post. April 29, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/04/29/rick-santorums-misguided-view-of-gun-control-in-the-wild-west/
We all probably know someone in our lives that is an emotional thinker. How they “feel” is more important than facts. Critical thinking is subordinate to emotions in these people. Decisions are often made in a way that resolves internal, emotional conflicts by deflecting the pain. There are two main types of emotional hoplopaths; the traumatized and the irrational. The traumatized exhibit psychological damage, locking their reasoning up. The irrational have little or no ability (or desire) to think critically. Both are often guilty of ignoring evidence that contradicts their beliefs.
These emotional thinkers are not able to properly deal with their emotions. Those of lower intelligence will react impulsively, often out of anger or overwhelming sadness. These irrational individuals cannot use reason to reconcile how they feel with how they interact with guns. Traumatized and higher intelligence persons use perverted logic to come to a false conclusion; that is a negligent discharge was not caused by the shooter, but because the gun was faulty.
The average emotionally driven person will engage in activism to resolve inner feelings on guns and violence. “If I go to this anti-gun rally, it will make me feel better when I think about gun violence.” That’s a choice that isn’t made with much thought; the decision to join the cause is made reflexively as the unconscious motion to scratch an itch. Emotion calls for an action that will resolve the internal conflict; not necessarily solve the problem.
The emotional hoplopath’s dislike of guns can be emotional, based on personal experience or simply opinion. It can also be based out of ignorance (again, there is always considerable overlap), such as they have no experience with guns and are conscious largely only on the negative aspects of firearms. They have “knowledge” of firearms that is not a constructive or especially factual knowledge, but based on their experiences, direct or inferred. These would be the folks horrified by media reports of gun crimes.
An emotional hoplophobe may have experienced tragedy involving guns or may have been traumatized at a young age. The emotional generally have been so conditioned by living in, for instance, a violent, gang infested neighborhood, that their perception has been entirely altered. Some have undergone mental changes due to the effects serious psychological trauma. The thought skills to rationally think about guns are there, but the emotional aspect prevents them from using those tools. The conditioning aspect of constant exposure to negativity is difficult to overcome from without and least likely to be altered by positive reinforcement.
The emotional aversion usually results in hate and activism, while ignorance typically is limited to only expressing one’s opinion. Lacking awareness of their own emotions or the control that emotion has is another major difference between ignorance and emotional aversions. Emotional types are rather like egocentric individuals trying to be introspective; thoughts critical to their established beliefs make them uncomfortable, so deep thought is avoided.
An example is a man who lost his son in a gang murder; rather than blame his son’s membership in a gang, blames easy access to guns. Personal responsibility for violence (or avoiding it) causes an intense conflict when the person or a loved one is to blame, or at least contributed, for the trauma. No one wants to be at fault for their problems, nor do they wish to besmirch the memory of a loved one. Trying to ban guns is an easier task (and requires less painful emotional introspection) than addressing the root causes of crime. Admitting that someone had a drug, temper, or gang problem requires an acceptance of personal blame that must be avoided to preserve the person’s ego.
Likewise, blaming an individual group for its contribution to violence is also unacceptable to many. African-Americans are statistically the most homicidal race in America and account for the majority of violence. Poverty, gangs, and drugs are endemic among lower-class blacks and all contribute to crime and victimization in that community. Yet admitting that the black community has a problem with those things is a de facto accusation against the community. Though it is true that drug abuse and gang violence is out of control in black America, anyone who points out that factor is labeled a racist. Instead of trying to eliminate the roots of black drug use, poverty, and gang membership, it is more politically correct for lawmakers to target guns in the quest for ending inner city violence.
Lawmakers look at problems and provide a solution using the tools at their disposal; legislation. Often, the actual solution is beyond the control of a legislator. They cannot control how aggressively police and prosecutors combat crime using the laws at their disposal. They cannot control social factors that influence the individual’s decision to engage in criminal behavior. But by writing a law, effective or not, it satisfies their emotional drive to “do something.” It is the classic problem of “when the your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” When the new law proves effective, another one is called for, promising to be the next cure.
To change emotional thinking, we have to identify the thought processes that lead to the emotional decision. Identification of what’s really going on inside the mind allows for the formulation of effective strategies to challenge the emotional thought process. For instance, someone who based their opinion on gang murders from the evening news may have their mind changed by regularly seeing stories about successful defensive gun uses and the positive aspects of the shooting sports.
Think of a prisoner raised from birth in solitary confinement. Every time the door opens, he is blinded by daylight, kicked, and sprayed with a hose. If light brings with it pain and humiliation--the prisoner having no concept of the joys of the outside world--can we blame him for hating light? All of us (perhaps even ourselves) had an emotionally based opinion changed by being exposed to the balance of an issue that we were missing.
This interruption in emotional thinking will not take place if one is never exposed to opposing viewpoints or the positive aspects of a negative subject. Additionally, if one deliberately ignores the other side and/or mentally blocks its effect, there will be no interruption. Imagine the prisoner ignoring the cries of his cellmates to look out the door at the beautiful world outside. The emotionally bound thinkers consciously or unconsciously choose to keep information contrary to their emotional conclusion from their thought process.
Why some are like this, I don’t know. The best quote on the topic comes from Robert A. Heinlein: “Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion--in the long run these are the only people who count…” However, there is a fraction of emotional hoplopaths that are beyond our reach.
The hoplophobe is ignorant of guns and afraid is therefore afraid of them; whether this results in hoplopathy is dependent on the individual.
An example of a hoplophobe would be a New Yorker who, back home, is verbally aggressive when someone is rude or inconsiderate. Westerns tend to be slightly more quiet, reserved, and non-confrontational. This New Yorker is afraid to vocalize her frustrations (yell at people) because “you all have guns out here and I’m afraid someone will pull one out and shoot me.” This isn’t true, however, she combines her experience of a more aggressive culture with the armed culture of western America and imagines that we would respond as one might have in the days of the bygone Wild West.
Most hoplophobes are ignorant persons who never actually manifest their ignorance and fear as hatred of guns. Where the transition from simple ignorance, hoplophobia, to hoplopathy lies would be if the New Yorker joined an gun control group and did more than just vote and express her opinion privately. The second chief difference between -phobia and -pathy is what actions one takes.
The ignorant have no depth of knowledge to draw from or lack the mental tools to think critically. Those with limited access to information are the people who pro-gun thoughts never occur to because there is no exposure to other ways of thinking or information. Their store of gun knowledge is either empty or filled with useless junk. The first group have a deficit of correct information and the second are those who also lack an ability to retain and process information. These latter group simply are not intelligent and make their minds up based on what others tell them; in other words, stupid people.
A limited frame of reference prevents new information from challenging assumptions. This can be a personal choice of excluding information outlets or until recently, no alternative sources. The structure of pre-Internet media is a perfect example of this. Nightly reports of drive-by shootings, school massacres, and politicians and “experts” explaining how guns are dangerous creates a unified wall of opinion and negative reinforcement. Groups like the NRA were generally treated as “fringe” by the media and society for most of our lives.
Those who are informed and thus influenced by the media are like the winds and tides; powerful because they have mass, yet they do not control their own direction are at the mercy of far more powerful forces. The sheep that get their news without thought and have their opinion shaped by the mainstream media can literally be described as changing their politics with the tide. This ignorance breeds aversion because years of negative reinforcement is unbalanced by anything positive.
However, the ignorant who lack informed knowledge (vs. the stupid) can be converted to pro-gun positions the most easily. Many have uninformed knowledge based on the media, but personal exposure to gun owners or experiencing a life-changing event can lead them to viewing guns as defensive tools, not makers of mayhem. Thankfully, many can be redeemed in today’s information society. Examples abound of those who grew up in the suburban areas of anti-gun states becoming ardent Second Amendment supporters simply because they were exposed to new knowledge. These converts are very rarely emotional thinkers.
Since the 1990s, we have seen the destruction of the mass media narrative and the erosion of the monolith that much of the public would not question. Factual information about guns and gun violence was limited to specialist publications that the disinterested would not take the time to buy or seek out. Alternative news sites, blogs, and the sharing of ideas and discussions that social media has facilitated made it much easier for an average person to have access to contrary viewpoints. As a result, in the last twenty years there has been a dramatic shift in public opinion against gun control.
The other division are the stupid; those that Heinlein would define as “can’t think.” The reasons could be many; low intelligence, poor education, no interest in all but base pleasures and necessary work, or disinterest in anything even slightly intellectual. Those who might care rely on those in authority to do the thinking for them. They have been told by the news, a politician, a clergyman, or a respected relative that guns are bad or had bad experiences themselves. No mental structure exists for processing contrary information and weighing out which is more likely to be correct. To be cynical, this is the block that if they are involved in gun control at all, it is as mere votes, cheap labor (signatures or demonstrators), or human props.
The main difference between the first two groups and the antagonistic is that the former two generally don’t know any better or simply do not possess the ability or access to information to think critically about the topic.
To be continued...
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West