Tuesday, 18 December 2012


I haven't said anything about the Newtown tragedy in Connecticut this week.  It's just too big to wrap my head around.  I was 16 when Thomas Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary School and started firing; I still remember the state of the UK afterwards.  Tragedies of this magnitude do not get any easier to process as we get older.

As to the events of Friday themselves, then, nothing to say other than to express sympathy to everyone affected.  I don't have any intention of discussing what changes to US law are required in the light of this mass-shooting, or the seven or so others that have occurred this year.  I have thoughts on the matter, unsurprisingly, but those can wait.

An unwillingness to state my own case doesn't stop me from tearing up other people's crap, though, obviously.  Megan McArdle is almost always dangerously idiotic whenever she adds a new set of fingerprints to her keyboard, and particularly when discussing her ill-formed libertarianism leanings, but this?

For most of it's length, this is pretty much standard poor arguing.  Note with no surprise how hard McArdle tries to not understand the difference between technically illegal and illegal according to laws which are rigorously enforced.  Watch with wonder as she swaps between the specific horror of Newtown and the more general state of violent crime in America, so she can argue actions which would have been useful on Friday might not work in general, and actiona which would work in general might not have worked on Friday.  Rub your eyes in disbelief as she argues that because the shooter had three other guns on his person, there's no point focussing on the gun he chose as the most effortless method possible of murdering children.  Cry tears of blood as she falls back on the final refuge of the scoundrel: suggesting that no single response would do enough on its own, and no combination of responses could completely cure the problem, therefore nothing can be done (like how the Unabomber proved laws against making bombs are just an infringement on liberty that do no good for public safety, for example).

Or, if you're short of time, just skip to the end:
I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.
I was sure I'd come across an idea like this before, and it took me a few seconds to remember:

If Megan McArdle had been around in 1916, she'd spend her time in-between hosting Jessie Pope at dinner parties arguing that warfare can never be eradicated, so maybe the thing to do was to try choking machine gun nests with smaller troops.

There are days when it's just impossible to not hate our species.

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