Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Perhaps the idea of police officers in all schools needs rethinking

with 21 comments

Jodie Gummow reports at AlterNet:

An Austin family is suing the Texas sheriff’s deputy and school district in federal court after their 17-year-old son was tasered last week by a police officer in the school hallway, leaving him in a coma and fighting for his life,  Courthouse News  reported.

Noe Nino de Rivera, had successfully stepped in to break up a fight between two girls at Cedar Creek High School when school officials called in Randy McMillan, a Bastrop County sheriff department deputy. McMillan told the boy to step back and the teen obliged, with his hands in the air.

Yet, in a vicious act of police brutality, McMillan tasered the boy anyway, who fell onto his face and was knocked unconscious. Rather than calling for emergency medical assistance, the cop put the comatose boy in handcuffs.

Eventually, school officials contacted emergency services and the boy was airlifted to hospital where he underwent brain surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma where he remains and is still unable to communicate with his family.

Students who saw the incident say McMillan’s response was a gross overreaction, according to  KXAN.

“There was a crowd watching and the kid was just trying to get the officers to listen to him. When he shot the taser, there was a crowd, and others could have been hit,” said one student.

Acosta says the school was negligent in allowing McMillan to work at the school, despite the fact that he had previously tasered another student a year ago.

The incident is under investigation. The family is now seeking damages for the police brutality.

Written by Leisureguy

29 November 2013 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Education, Guns

21 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Yes, we need to allow teachers and staff to carry concealed handguns after getting a permit from the states. One Texas school district has been doing that for years without any problems, or attacks by mad shooters.




    30 November 2013 at 8:29 am

  2. I don’t think arming teachers and staff is a good idea either, though I’m relieved to hear that there have been no problems so far in one Texas school district that’s tried it.

    The problem with having police officers armed in schools is much like the problem of having US Marines patrol the border: the level of force that training supports is disproportionate to the general run of offense. (US Marines are trained to fight in battles against armed opponents, which is not the same as patrolling a border between friendly countries.)



    30 November 2013 at 8:44 am

  3. “The problem with having police officers armed in schools is much like the problem of having US Marines patrol the border: the level of force that training supports is disproportionate to the general run of offense.”

    Utter nonsense. Let me use an example from computer science that might make sense to you without the pejorative of thinking about guns per se.

    When I am sizing the amount of computer hardware needed for an application, for instance a system that does live video optimization of streaming videos from the Internet to personal smartphones, I can NOT size for the “general run” of videos, that is some average value of traffic.

    You MUST size for the maximum amount you are likely to encounter (and some headroom for safety). You may encounter that load once a day, and only for an hour or two out of 24 hours, but if you don’t have that amount of hardware then you crash and burn.

    The same principle applies to schools and what is required to protect children. You don’t arm with the “general run of offense” in mind. You arm with what you would need if an Adam Lanza starts shooting down your door. You do that if you love children more than you hate guns.

    The problem with the police officer in Austin is a common police problem – “bad apples” not being properly weeded out of the system. That is the real problem. When we give police extraordinary power, and when society supports them even when they are grossly abusing that power, then that is real root problem – not armed people in school to protect children.





    30 November 2013 at 9:01 am

  4. You’re very persuasive: the first two words of your response almost convinced me. 🙂

    But, seriously, can we discuss the issue without veering into that sort of response? I know we don’t agree, but I would like at least to attempt a civil discussion, if that’s of interest to you.

    Sorry? “Pejorative of thinking about guns per se”? I don’t understand what you mean.

    I totally grasp the computer-sizing idea, but I think the analogy is flawed. If you follow that logic—to arm for the worst possible encounter—we would not have police officers alone in patrol cars, but SWAT teams patrolling our streets and cities. Schools would also be home to SWAT teams.

    That simply doesn’t make sense to me, plus it would be horribly expensive.

    And arming the teachers and staff would present a lot of problems, IMO: bad apples don’t happen only in police forces, you know. Indeed, I think police forces in general test applicants in an effort to avoid problem police officers, but obviously those efforts are not successful. If you read the papers, you discover that bad apples are all too common.

    Still, I doubt that we can decide this here. In any event, the experiment of using US Marines on border patrol ended badly—they are trained for war, not police work. At least we agree that armed police should have a permanent home in most schools. (If we armed schools to the extent that Sandy Hook Elementary—by an measure a school with no apparent risk—would have had armed guards, then you have armed guards in every school—schools that are being required to cut back on teaching staff. It seems a bad direction to me.



    30 November 2013 at 9:22 am

  5. After thinking about it some more, I see the flaw in your analogy: with computers, you have to staff for the maximum load because it’s generally impossible to add capacity on demand. But adding capacity on demand is exactly the model used in police work, fire fighting, and so on. A fire station, for example, is staffed for a typical fire, not the greatest possible conflagration. If the fire exceeds the capability of the local stations, then other stations join in the fight—and we don’t staff fire stations for simultaneous big conflations in multiple locations: it can happen, but it’s so unlikely that it would not be worth the cost to do it.

    Same with police: the usual complement is one or two officers, who call for back-up as needed.

    The situation unfortunately doesn’t correspond to your analogy.

    Also, in response to the first comment, I’ll point out the obvious: thousands of school districts do NOT arm their teachers, with no problems and no mad shooters.



    30 November 2013 at 9:46 am

  6. “Sorry? “Pejorative of thinking about guns per se”? I don’t understand what you mean.”

    What I mean is look at an example of the _principle_ involved that doesn’t involve guns at all. Therefore if you have very negative feelings about guns that prevent you from seeing the application of the principle to guns, perhaps seeing the principle applied in a context without guns – without the negative feelings associated with guns – can help one overcome the emotions to see with the eyes of logic.

    That is what I meant.

    “…I think the analogy is flawed. If you follow that logic—to arm for the worst possible encounter—we would not have police officers alone in patrol cars, but SWAT teams patrolling our streets and cities. Schools would also be home to SWAT teams.”

    In some neighborhoods of our inner cities it would probably be a bad idea for police officers to patrol alone, and I had a conversation with an L.A. police officer after the “Hollywood Shooting” where he advocated getting military M16s for patrol cars.

    Obviously you need a higher ability to provide armed force in say Detroit, than my little town in Texas with hardly any real violence.

    One part of the analogy that needs to be considered is cost. In the computer science analogy the sizing may say that you can’t accomplish the original goal at a reasonable cost and you have to settle for less (perhaps you don’t try to optimize all the videos but bypass some requests when traffic is to high). So it is not a 100% one-to-one comparison to using armed force.

    In any equation of using armed force in schools you have to take into account both sides of the equation, that is, what you could conceivably need and what you can afford.

    That is why allowing qualified teachers and staff in schools to carry a concealed handgun in school. A lot of the cost is absorbed by these people of their own free will. They chose to carry to both protect themselves and their charges.

    There are other benefits. If put uniformed police or I think they are sometimes called “resource officers” or some such and these people are known, then you lose an important advantage of concealed carry. People who might want to attack the school know who is armed. In the concealed carry scenario they have no idea who might pose a threat to them. A little old gray haired lady in her last year of teaching might be the one to pull a gun and blow him away. He has no idea.

    This guy below who is an ex-police officer has some good insights that address some of your concerns:

    Everything that’s wrong with the argument against protecting schools with guns

    Bottom line is if teachers and staff carry guns then something unfortunate is possible. That is true. But if no one is armed in schools the chances of tragedy – like Newtown or Columbine – become even more likely.

    There is no perfect answer without the possibility of tragedy. But rationally you can optimize your choices and armed and law abiding people carrying concealed handguns are part of the answer.





    30 November 2013 at 9:56 am

  7. What would be interesting would be to select two states that are demographically similar and neither enormous (California, New York, Texas) nor under populated and sparse (Montana, Wyoming), and train and arm school staff (administrators, teachers, support staff) in one state and not the other and see what happens over the next decade.

    We do know that in the Giffords shooting, one of the armed bystanders was close to shooting the guy who had taken Loughner’s gun away. (See this story.) Though that may not be a problem in a school, where presumably the staff would know and recognize each other, it is a concern in situations in which (possibly armed) by-standers are present. (I also will note that Loughner was captured when he had to change clips, an argument in favor of smaller-capacity magazines for civilian use.)

    You don’t respond to my comments about the analogy, so I’m not sure you’ve read that comment yet. But I do think that the model of staffing/equipping for the usual rule rather than the outlier works well in contexts other than long-lead-time computer equipment. Calling for back-up or additional resources as needed is more economical and (IMO) makes more sense in most situations than staffing and equipping for the unusual situation. I really don’t think the analogy works. Do you?

    It’s an interesting question of which is more likely: a mad shooter loose in a typical school, or bad outcomes from arming the entire school staff in every school. Somehow, it seems to me that we’ll have more bad results from the latter than the former, but that would require testing.

    The odd thing: we do know what works, because we can look at the other advanced countries and see that they VERY seldom have mass shootings, whereas in the US we seem to get one or two a month.



    30 November 2013 at 10:13 am

  8. BTW, since we’re speaking of guns, I’d really like to have one of these (though not in .44 magnum: overkill). I really like lowering the barrel to put it more in line the arm to help with the recoil and keeping the gun on target.



    30 November 2013 at 10:20 am

  9. “…adding capacity on demand is exactly the model used in police work”

    They tried that at Columbine and a lot of kids died. There was a police officer actually near the school who responded and traded fire with at least one of the killers while he waited for backup.

    Since then police tactics for school shootings have changed with the emphasis on the personnel on hand immediately engaging and trying to take out the shooter without waiting for backup. It is a much more aggressive tactic that emphasizes speed and lethality of response. If that had happened at Columbine it might have saved lives. But the fact is that if police have to respond and come to the scene then that will give the killer ample time to do what he set out to do – as witness to that you only have to look at Newtown.

    If you are serious about defending kids in school you need to have the capacity in the school to have some reasonable chance of doing that _before_ the backups arrive. That should simply be common sense.

    Hence the analogy of capacity. Reinforcement is a valid police and military model when you consider the vast number of possible scenarios and available resources to handle them. Often in that scenario people die waiting for them to arrive. In the military it was considered an acceptable risk, although even then they understood you had to have some credible capacity if you didn’t want your bases overrun on a regular basis (which tends to look bad – read about Firebase Mary Ann in Quang Tin province, South Vietnam on March 28, 1971).

    My contention is pure and simple. Kids are important enough to defend with significant force on hand. Dependence on backup or reinforcement is not realistic unless you are willing – as the military often is – of taking “acceptable” casualties. My model doesn’t accept some dead kids as acceptable.

    However there are other factors to consider. These school killers are not Rambos, trained military, or particularly brave. In fact they tend to be absolute cowards when faced with determined deadly force. What they almost all want to do is take out a bunch of unarmed victims then commit suicide. They do want to die, but they want to die by their own hand. The do not want to be killed by someone else because that takes away from their illusion of power and control. They want to make a statement to the world through their acts.

    When people shoot back, or even threaten to, these kind of killers often retreat and take their own life, or surrender to police if they can’t at the last moment put the gun to their own head. Again, they are not very likely to be willing to engage in a real firefight with armed and dangerous defenders.

    Happened in I think Seattle or somewhere in Washington last year. Guy comes into a mall with sort of semi-automatic rifle, kills one or two people and gun jams. He looks up and a licensed concealed carry holder had pulled his handgun and was aiming at him (but did not fire – said later was afraid might hit people behind the killer). Killer flees to some hallway in the store, then kills himself as police arrive.

    Here is the scenario that makes sense to me. Let teachers and staff get a concealed carry license in their state. Then let the principal use her judgment to allow them to carry in school. Maybe give them a day’s extra training from an experts on tactic and the law (the defensive tactics they need are much simpler that what police need to know). Let’s assume that, like in Texas, they have already demonstrated they can hit a man size target at likely ranges (under 7 yards most of the time) and can handle a gun safely under supervision.

    Then you prominently post signs around the school advertising that the school is guarded by armed personnel – make sure it is well known that there are armed citizens in the school.

    I would do one last thing based on the experience at Newtown. Usually the principal and secretary’s office is near or right next to the entrance (where Lanza shot his way through a glass window or door). I would put a gun safe in the their office and give them (principal and secretary) a key or combination to it. I would put two fully loaded AR-15 carbines in the safe with an extra loaded clip or two. Then give these individuals a day on the range under expert tutelage to learn how to use them for the limited defense roles they would play (again, they are not going to try to learn to be Marines).

    Imagine if at Newtown the principal had an AR-15, crouched down behind a file cabinet or other cover and started returning fire at Lanza as he came into the building. I imagine the casualties that day would have exaclty one person, Adam Lanza, probably by his own hand being denied access to the unarmed victims he intended to kill.





    30 November 2013 at 12:04 pm

  10. I simply point out that patrols are run by cops alone or in pairs, with the assumption that they’ll call for back-up if they need it. Cities do not situate SWAT squads on each corner, even though the maximum effort at any given corner might well require a SWAT team. No, the team is called when needed.

    And you don’t have one single mammoth fire station large enough to put out the largest fire conceivable in the city—that kind of catastrophe is rare, but minor fires are common. So you have a bunch of moderately size fire stations staffed for a typical fire, with stations calling other reinforcements as needed.

    Yes, I know about the catastrophes that would have been avoided if a SWAT team had been on the scene with the perp in their sites. Counter-factual arguments are easy: if, if, if. My point is that staffing every location for the rare catastrophe is simply not feasible.

    Your argument is more or less to arm every civilian (and also, presumably, have each civilian carry a fire extinguisher? 🙂 ). Now certainly that’s been done in many places: Iraq after our war that freed them, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mexico, and so on. Places that are EXTREMELY well-armed in terms of the civilian population seem, on the whole, to not trend safer. At least those places are some sort of counterexample. You will probably mention Switzerland and the need for a functioning government.

    I don’t know: I spent a while yesterday looking at YouTube videos of Black Friday shopping mobs and their behavior, and wondered whether I wanted each of them to have immediate access to deadly force—would it really make us safer?

    You think so, I think not.



    30 November 2013 at 12:32 pm

  11. And, on second thought, what would you think if I told you to think of a country where the school staff must be armed in order to protect the schoolchildren?

    Offhand, I would think that indicated some sort of breakdown—certainly a departure from what one wants in a community and what many (around the globe) enjoy.



    30 November 2013 at 12:54 pm

  12. “I’d really like to have [a Mateba Unica] (though not in .44 magnum: overkill). I really like lowering the barrel to put it more in line the arm to help with the recoil and keeping the gun on target.”

    If you want my honest opinion it looks something like a Rube Goldberg device. 🙂

    Not sure what real world problem it is trying to solve unless it is the novelty of being able to fire a 357 or 44 Magnum in a semi-automatic. As to the 357 you can get pretty much equal performance in the 357 Sig cartridge chambered in SIG Sauer or Glock handguns (and maybe some others?). 10mm won’t equal 44 Magnum, but is a pretty hot cartridge for a semi-auto.

    I have a certification as a gunsmith from the Colorado School of Trades back in 1976 (my career path changed drastically in the 1980s when I went back to college and got a degree in computer science and have worked for computer companies since the late 1980s). I just say that to back up the idea that the following opinions are based on some experience.

    I am a huge Smith & Wesson revolver bigot. Freely admit it, although I once owned a Colt Python. I have owned a lot of S&Ws down through the years and still own two today. In terms of rapid fire I doubt there is any advantage to the Mateba (or any semi-auto) in the hands of an experienced shooter. Master double action fire and with a good, well timed, and slicked up S&W you can shoot plenty fast enough (and accuracy is more important in my view).

    Although the S&W revolver is hardly used today by police and military, it has a long, long tradition in the past and during that time the design was pretty much perfected. Nevertheless if you take off the sideplate of a S&W (or Colt or Ruger) revolver there is some significant complexity there (and lots of little springs that like to fly off very easily, so don’t recommend unless you know what you are doing). This complexity must be precisely timed and adjusted to work dependably. If done correctly it can work beautifully and be a real pleasure to shoot.

    The working parts of a Glock semi-auto are much simpler and they have a reputation for superb functionality and reliability. So I don’t see why anyone would want to mate clockwork complexity of a revolver with a recoil operated semi-auto. I can’t see how that would improve reliability. But again I have never handled or shot a Mateba. All I have to go on right now is a Wikipedia article.

    When I buy a hand gun for serious purposes I want it to come from a company that supplies police and/or military in many, many thousands of units and has been hard tested in real combat situations, even if dirty, wet, or full of sand. The guns that over the years pass that sort of test are what you want if you plan to defend yourself with a handgun.

    Smith & Wesson and Colt revolvers passed those tests in the not distant past. The 1911 Colt is legendary in that respect. One of the later entries is the Glock which is an amazing handgun in terms of reliability. A lot of police use the SIG Sauer but in all honesty I have no personal experience with them (yet).

    So maybe if I was interested in the novelty of the technology, had plenty of proven guns for serious purposes, and had lots of spare bucks to burn I would probably buy a Mateba just for the fun of it. But if I needed a gun for serious purposes it would almost certainly have Smith & Wesson or Glock stamped on it somewhere.

    BTW, in terms of barrel alignment and recoil, the Glock design is very good. Glocks handle recoil very well (much better than conventional revolvers). If you are really interested look up videos by “hickok45” on youtube. Older guy, like me, and great advocate for the Glock (which as an “old monkey” took me a while to adapt, but now I am sold on it …:) )





    30 November 2013 at 1:59 pm

  13. “And, on second thought, what would you think if I told you to think of a country where the school staff must be armed in order to protect the schoolchildren?”

    Is there such a country? I do know that in Israel for a while they were arming teachers and some staff because of terrorist attacks on schools. I wasn’t aware that anyone was mandated to be armed though – but I could be wrong on that. Last time I was in Israel last year I didn’t hear much about that. Don’t think the problem is as actute today as it once was.

    I felt perfectly comfortable in Jerusalem with tons of youngs kids with M16 and other rifles slung over their shoulders. Personally I think there are some great social advantages to universal military service (and some downsides – but beyond the scope of this post).

    “Offhand, I would think that indicated some sort of breakdown—certainly a departure from what one wants in a community and what many (around the globe) enjoy.”

    Any time a lot of people have to go around armed to keep a country safe it indicates deep social problems. I agree with where I think you are going there. The U.K has always had less problems and much lower homicide rates (but not suicide). They had – until recently – a relatively homogenous population and a high social respect for traditions and institutions. Now I hear that the U.K. has been branded the most violent country in Europe by the UN and their gun violence has doubled in the last decade or so.

    In the U.S. a lot of our “gun problem” is very concentrated in our inner cities, and largely among blacks (although hispanics almost certainly play a part, but FBI statistics classify hispanics as ‘white’ so it can be hard to tell from their stats).

    According to FBI stats for 2011 for homicide where the race of the offender was known it was black 52.4% of the time although blacks were less than 14% of the population then. And of course other blacks are most often the victim.

    Consider that the homicde rate in the U.S. as a whole is about 4.7 per 100,000 (the most recent I have seen). Now compare that to some of our cities (and specifically inner cities):

    Homicide rate per 100K

    New Orleans 62.1
    Detroit 35.9
    Baltimore 29.7
    Newark 25.4
    Miami 23.7
    Washington D.C. 19.0
    Atlanta 17.2
    Cleveland 17.4
    Buffalo 16.5
    Houston 12.9
    Chicago 11.6

    You might be safer in some war zones than a ward in New Orleans! Chicago seems to get a lot of publicity for homicide but it is actually lower than a lot of other cities.

    The whole point of the above is NOT that somehow blacks are more innately violent or whatever. I don’t believe that. But the inner city black family structure has been devasted by social policies going back to the 1960s. Children growing up in families without a father and dependence on government programs and housing.

    Yes, we have a problem in the U.S. But I don’t think the root problem is guns. The real root problem is misguided policies that make people dependent, break up families, teach no great values of personal responsibility, and ultimately try to blame everything on racism and being disadvantaged.

    At least that is my view. Btw, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams are two of my favorite commentators and it is their writing on which I base my understanding of what has happened to destroy a lot of the healthy parts of black culture.





    30 November 2013 at 2:21 pm

  14. Regarding the semi-auto revolver: I think the idea (beyond the mere technical challenge, which is probably the motivation, is to avoid using a magazine. My understanding is that jams are often due to misfeeds from the magazine and/or weakening of the spring in the magazine. In fact, I think I’ve read that one should not store clips full of ammo, but load when needed. Just a guess. And I would go with smaller caliber. For a real-world pistol, I sort of line the FN Five SeveN. I’ve had a couple of S&W pistols: a .22 revolver, which was very nice, and the Model 39 when it first came out. Then later I discovered air pistols and had a wonderful single-shot, single-pump Russian target model. I became quite enraptured with air rifles, but no place to do shooting, really.

    Speaking of the Glock: shortly after they came out and achieved their initial popularity, they started showing up in mysteries. I’ll never forget throwing one mystery across the room because one character betrayed his presence as he “released the safety on his Glock.” And everyone knew (I thought) that was one of the big deals about the gun: no separate safety.

    I think I recall seeing a competition .22 target pistol in which the barrel was directly in line with the arm. That would be fun.

    I agree that violence is primarily a problem of poverty and desperation and a feeling that one has nothing to lose. So the groups suffering the most from inequality and with the fewest positive prospects in their lives are likely to the home to the most violence. And, of course, there’s the environmental lead factor.

    You might enjoy this article.

    I was talking with a friend who is a conservative (he was raised in southern Oklahoma and now lives there). He is very much opposed to the Affordable Care Act, which struck me as somewhat inconsistent: he is a former minister who is voicing strong objections to a program that would allow millions access to healthcare they’ve not had. That would seem to be a good thing, in Christian terms, and it’s hard to imagine Jesus trying to keep the poor and powerless from being cured. (He cured quite a few and at no charge.)

    My friend explained that it was because he’s fearful of creating a culture of dependency: if you help someone, as I understand it, they will then depend on that help. So the truly Christian path (apparently) is not to help people so as to protect them from becoming dependent.

    I understand that he would not say it quite that way, but, really? Someone working two or three part-time low-paying jobs (not an uncommon situation) should not get healthcare because they’ll become dependent? ?

    My view is that life in a society is a pattern of mutual dependence. When I fly, I depend on a lot of people—and much government support (roads, airports, FAA, and so on). We are all dependent on each other, and that’s how a community works. Food stamps help people through hard times. I think that’s good.

    This article on Glock came out a while back. I thought it was quite interesting.



    30 November 2013 at 5:03 pm

  15. “We are all dependent on each other, and that’s how a community works.”

    Yet there are different models of how a community can work together. In one model people choose of their own free will to cooperate and trade their skills and efforts in mutually beneficial transactions. The other model puts some chosen people in the community in charge of what ever one else does and what rewards they receive for their efforts.

    The first model assumes individuals have a right to guide their own destiny, for good or evil, and the second model assumes that most people have no idea what is in their own good and must be controlled by the enlightened few.

    The Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – is clearly modeled on the second model of enlightened control.

    “…in Christian terms, and it’s hard to imagine Jesus trying to keep the poor and powerless from being cured.”

    As I read the words of Jesus in the scriptures I see a man who was totally in favor of individuals making a choice to help the poor and not a proponent of government enforced charity. The only value one can get from giving to charity is the value that comes from doing so from one’s own uncoerced choice. Being forced, or forcing others, to give to charity does not lay up any treasure in heaven for anyone.

    “… is voicing strong objections to a program that would allow millions access to healthcare they’ve not had.”

    While taking away insurance from people who liked their insurance and would like to keep it but now are having their plans cancelled by the millions. That is a very good example of the second model. I gave some money the other day to a charity to help a young boy get chemo treatment for his cancer after his insurance plan was cancelled because it did not come up to the standard imposed by Obamacare. The hard reality of the ACA is becoming more apparent every day.

    “Food stamps help people through hard times. I think that’s good.”

    If you look only at the isolated good and ignore the use of force – guns in the hands of government agents – which is the only power by which all of this is essentially run. Yes, we ignore the fact that behind the generous bureaucrats stand less generous men with guns who will arrest you, or kill you, if you don’t obey the mandates of those who believe they are entitled to decide who gets what in society.

    Someone pointed out the other day that most socalled “anti-gunners” are actually very much pro-gun. They are pro-gun for government agents having guns and think that is right and proper. It is just you and me that they think shouldn’t have them. And again, that is the second model.

    I am unabashedly in favor of the first model, the model of true free choice (on things other than just abortion).

    To repeat your words again:

    “We are all dependent on each other, and that’s how a community works.”

    Yes, it is true that humans thrive through working together and depending on others. But that does not give some the right to set themselves up as the arbiters of how we do that. Yes, we do need some rules (laws) but their goal should be to secure our freedom, not to take it, no matter how much good some “enlightened” people think they can accomplish if we can only be coerced to go along.





    1 December 2013 at 6:29 am

  16. “This article on Glock came out a while back. I thought it was quite interesting”

    It is an interesting article. But the obvious fact is that the Glock was the right pistol, at the right place, at the right time. it facilitated the switch from revolvers to semi-auto pistols for the police in the U.S. It did so because as it turns out it was a superlative design for a fighting pistol (vs. a target pistol). If it had not been Glock it would have been someone else. It could have been S&W but they just didn’t see the light quick enough to change directions and lost a huge portion of a market they had previously owned (and a perfect lesson of how Capitalism punishes those who do not innovate, preferring to be comfortable in their previous successes).

    Basically I guess the police who were starting to fight the Drug War didn’t want to be outgunned, they didn’t want to be like Custer and his soldiers firing single shot rifles while surrounded by indians with repeating lever action rifles. 🙂





    1 December 2013 at 6:39 am

  17. I agree that the day of the .38 Special 6-shot revolver had long passed, and the Glock weapon is quite sold in design and performance. That, however, is not the focus of the article: even accepting those as premises, the company seems not to have adhered to high standards of conduct and presents many things worth questioning.



    1 December 2013 at 8:41 am

  18. I’m afraid I do not understand your argument on how societies work. Specifically, you seem to say that people should not be forced to act contrary to their will, but that everyone exercise free choice, with no force involved.

    I do see how that works for an individual who lives alone, outside society: s/he can certainly act as s/he wills, with no pushback save from nature.

    But in a society, it’s simply not the case that people can freely do as they choose. At the mundane level, codes of behavior are needed (for example) for simple things traffic safety: driving on the correct side of the road, observing traffic signals, and so on. Even so, some people choose not to follow the rules and put others at risk. Indeed, in a society one finds a whole array of things that people cannot do without punishment: the criminal code, for example

    I simply don’t see that a society in which every member does as s/he pleases can work at all. You inevitably have disagreements about what to do as a group.

    The most equitable way we’ve found to settle such agreements is to go with the will of the majority. The minority must be heard, and of course the minority will use evidence, argument, and persuasion to try to become a majority, but in some cases the minority’s will is defeated.

    The use of the will of the majority is only one approach, of course. Another is for the strongest member of the group to secure strong minions willing to follow, and impose the leader’s will on the group simply through force. (Idi Amin is an example, but there are many.) While this method tends to be favored by the strong, it seems not a good direction. I prefer majority rule.

    But even with majority rule, force comes into play. You were just talking about the police, who daily work to frustrate the willed actions of those who break laws. I don’t see how you can avoid this.

    Having everyone exercise his/her free will is simply not possible in a society. But maybe I’m missing something.i

    And Obamacare completely follows the rule of majority decision-making: it was voted into law by a majority, it was signed into law by regular procedure, it was challenged as a law and the Supreme Court backed it. How does that violate our usual procedures? Or is the Constitution the problem? I don’t see how Obamacare is anything other than a majority decision.

    Jesus did not talk much about government programs, but He did say that we should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar, which most take to mean that the temporal authorities are to be heeded. And certainly He did not speak against a government social safety net, which is alien to that time.

    As a group, we are free to offer help to those who need it. As a government, if the majority decides a social safety net is a good thing, then it is enacted into law. Once again, your argument seems to suggest that laws can be heeded or not, based on one’s personal convictions. Again, I may be misreading your argument, but that’s what I’m getting.

    “While taking away insurance from people who liked their insurance and would like to keep it but now are having their plans cancelled by the millions.”

    I’m not greatly impressed by the cancellations, sorry. First, insurance companies have routinely cancelled individual policies for YEARS, typically if the insured start to use the policy. You can readily find endless examples of people thrown off their individual plans and refused coverage because of some spurious “pre-existing condition.” Obamacare greatly strengthens policies (and I’m sure you’ve seen stories of those who, like the woman in Florida, lost her plan, was angry, but then found that she got much better coverage at a lower price through the exchange, and said at the end that losing the plan was a blessing in disguise.

    Many plans are cancelled simply because they offer poor coverage. Others are being cancelled (by the insurance companies, note) because they were cherry-picking customers: excluding from coverage anyone who might actually use the plan, so rates could be quite low. Those people will probably have to pay more, but the number affected adversely is but a fraction of those who will be helped: who will get healthcare coverage for the first time. I think that’s a good trade-off, but we’ll see how the public feels once Obamacare is actually up and running. Maybe in a couple of years, people will vote it out. But maybe people on the whole will like it. They certainly seem to like Medicare.

    Food stamps and men with guns: Again you seem to be saying that the government and a society can operate simply by letting each person do as s/he chooses. This is not government, this is anarchy.

    I guess we simply have different views of how a society works, but I do think my view is based on evidence and history.

    Can you please offer an example of a society (beyond a tribe) in which force is not used to enforce rules of behavior? I think not. So the question is, how to form rules of behavior. I like majority rule. What do you prefer?



    1 December 2013 at 9:18 am

  19. “Can you please offer an example of a society (beyond a tribe) in which force is not used to enforce rules of behavior? I think not. So the question is, how to form rules of behavior. I like majority rule. What do you prefer?”

    I was not advocating anarchy as a theory of government. That seems to be what you are arguing against. I suppose you could get that idea from my first paragraph where I described the two models:

    “In one model people choose of their own free will to cooperate and trade their skills and efforts in mutually beneficial transactions. The other model puts some chosen people in the community in charge…”

    However I was careful to point out that:

    “…we do need some rules (laws) but their goal should be to secure our freedom, not to take it…”

    The author and philosopher Ayn Rand had a good idea of what the proper role of government entails (quoting):

    “A government is an institution that holds the exclusive power to _enforce_ certain rules of social conduct in a given geogrphical area.” …

    “If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an _objective_ code of rules.

    This is the task of a government – of a proper government – its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

    A government is the means of placing the _retaliatory_ use of force under objective control — i.e., under objectively defined laws.”

    “The Nature of Government,” Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand

    By “rights” Rand was talking about what many modern progressives and leftists call “negative rights,” but what were essentially the rights of man espoused by the Founding Fathers of the United States.

    In that model the primary principle of law is that one cannot _initiate_ the use of force against others either through force or fraud. Rand gave an example where you come home and find your house has been robbed, and based on some clues you have, determine that your next door neighbor robbed you so you get your gun and go next door and demand your property back. The purpose of government is to prevent that scenario. You call the police who collect evidence and perhaps it goes to trial where ultimately the neighbor is found guilty. Then the state, through the courts, initiates the use of force to put that person in jail.

    Just a simple example. In her view the purpose of government was to protect people against criminals who use force or fraud, and against foreign nations which may attack your country. And finally even in a society like that there will always be disputes among people, for example on enforcing contracts and property rights, that will ultimately have to be decided by the courts which again may initiate the use of force under and objective code of law based on principles of individual rights.

    This is an individual centered model that allows maximum freedom to essentially make either good or bad decisions and suffer the consequences. It specically bans government initiating the use of force to rob Peter to pay Paul.

    Like the Founders, Rand saw the U.S. as primarily a republic with objective laws and rights that covered the majority of social interactions and thought that the primary purpose of democracy was to choose the caretakers of that small, and not terribly powerful government.

    Democracy should of course exist, but its power – the power of the majority should be strictly limited (as for example, by a Constitution).

    Probably the country in history that has most closely matched this model was the United States through approximately its first century of existence. It certainly was far from perfect. Some people did not participate due to slavery and women had less rights. Nevertheless it was still the best example in history and excluding its failings it is th best example men still have today – if they understand it.

    That is why many Libertarians and Tea Party people talk a lot about limited, small government based on the principles of a constitutionally chartered republic. Democracy in this view is very limited in scope.

    Ayn Rand created the philosophy of Objectivsm and I find much that true and useful in her writings (and things that I disagree with). She was an atheist and I am not, for example. The Founders understood the failings of pure democracy. As more and more voters are more and more dependent on government taking from others to pay them some “benefit” they see as a “right” the more closely we are to turning democracy into mob rule.





    1 December 2013 at 2:14 pm

  20. Ah, well. I see we have quite a difference in our world views.



    1 December 2013 at 2:23 pm

  21. The more I ponder your comment about the crime rate in the various inner cities, the more I think it is problematic to tie the problem to race—it suggests a racial flaw is behind the violence. I think your table and argument would be made more plausible and stronger if you investigated the connection between the rate of violent crime and the relative affluence of the environment. It strikes me that poverty might well drive desperate people to crime, and poverty (due to historical racism) particularly affects African-Americans. While it is true that in many of the cities you named, the crime is highest in African-American neighborhoods, but (as we are repeatedly told) correlation is not causation. I suspect that the underlying causal connection is income level, not race. Look at the rate of violent crime in terms of income level, not race.



    3 December 2013 at 8:59 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: