The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Facts? We don't need no steekin' facts!

It's weird what we do not know and even weirder that we think we know more than we do.

For instance, we have had little accurate information about the atrocity at the Sandy Hook school. But we seem to think we know how it can be prevented in the future and what weapons need to be banned or whose gun ownership should be restricted.

Think of all the things that were initially reported and turned out to be wrong:

Ryan Lanza was initially identified as the shooter.
The mother taught at the school or volunteered there.
There may have been more than one shooter.
The shooter used an AR-15 "assault" rifle.

There are more but let's go over these.

It was Adam Lanza, Ryan's younger brother. An understandable mistake since it was reported that Adam carried Ryan's identification. Makes me wonder why Ryan did not have it or if he even knew his identification was missing. Ryan worked in Manhattan and lived in New Jersey.

The mother hadn't volunteered at the school for quite some time.

There was only one shooter. Another understandable error, the police always assume more than one shooter until they confirm there are no others.

It turns out the Bushmaster .223 (based on the AR-15... a similar shaped weapon) was left in the trunk of the car Adam drove to the school.  In simple terms, it was not fired at the school.

[Update: apparently the reports that the Bushmaster was left in the trunk is wrong or maybe right. CNN on the 19th reported a shotgun was in the trunk but another site says that NBC reported the Bushmaster was in the trunk while also reporting the coroner saying all wounds were made by a "rifle"... so we still aren't getting accurate information]

The last fact is important. Everywhere I go on the internet where gun control laws are being discussed the comments and discussion center around the Bushmaster and its "30 round magazine." Since it was not used, the weapon and its magazine capacity doesn't matter. 

There's also a common misunderstanding that automatic weapons are not illegal. They are. Yes, they can be purchased but first you have to apply for (from the federal government) a class 4 firearms license. Then you have to have the money to purchase one (selling for well above the "normal" cost)... if you can find one for sale.

The two handguns used in the shooting are semi-automatic, as is the Bushmaster, and more easily obtained. The shooter's mother was the owner of the legally purchased weapons... all of them. [Connecticut weapons laws]  I have seen a couple of reports (and lots of comments) describing the mother as a "survivalist" and a "doomsday believer", but no proof has been provided and I suspect it is only because she owned and liked her guns and went target shooting.

But it doesn't matter, armed with emotion and incorrect "facts", people are calling for new laws doing what the old laws already did.

Consider what happened that we do know:

The shooter killed his mother and stole the weapons (or maybe he stole the weapons and then killed his mother), went to the school, murdered 20 children and 6 adults and then killed himself... possibly when he heard the police arriving. That's it. That is all we know.

I have seen at least one report that the shooter's mother was seeking a place to send her son, to institutionalize him, and that he was upset by this. I do not know how true this is but maybe we should take it into account before we make it easier to commit someone to psychiatric treatment

Laws written and enacted in the heat of the moment, in the emotional turmoil following a tragedy, often have to be undone or modified to correct the unintended consequences. We should move slowly and with great deliberation.

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