"I notice that in the wake of the Orlando Gay-bar massacre, MSNBC and the usual politicians are spouting the usual boilerplate about the awfulness of 'gun violence' and how we need to make it harder for people with no criminal record to buy guns. The more realistic types are asking why the FBI didn't keep better track of a suspected Jihadist, and others are asking what can be done to stop Jihadists from attacking innocent people.
"I also notice that one question nobody seems to be asking is: out of the 300 people in that bar, why did *not one of them* have a gun of his/her own, pull it out and shoot the killer? Not one of them! Not even the bartender or the bouncer. Yes, Orlando law forbids patrons (even CCW holders) to *bring* a firearm into a place where alcohol is served, but why didn't the *bartender*, or the bouncer, keep a firearm under the bar for emergencies? For that matter, what about tasers?
"That stupid law needs to be rescinded, the personnel of Gay bars need to be armed and trained to deal with terrorist attacks, and all bars should have a policy of welcoming CCW holders."
Well, that started it, 181 comments racked up in short order, and still going strong. The pro- and anti-gun sides lined up pretty quickly, and I was fascinated to see the nature of the arguments.
The pros quoted facts and statistics (sometimes to laborious length): 1) The bar did have one armed guard -- a moonlighting local policeman stationed by the door -- but the shooter, Omar Mateen, had checked out the bar beforehand and knew where that guard was, and shot him first; 2) Since at least 1950, all but two mass shootings have taken place in "gun-free zones", where legally everybody was disarmed and nobody could shoot back; 3) There have been several cases where armed civilians have prevented mass shootings; 4) According to FBI statistics, Americans armed with firearms prevent crimes at least 900,000 times every year (and the figure could easily be twice as high, since many such are not reported); 5) According to data from the UN (http://crimeresearch.org/2014/03/comparing-murder-rates-across-countries/) countries with low gun-ownership have higher homicide rates -- and the US ranks 111th in the world in homicide; 6) Since 1993, when most states began allowing civilians to ear Concealed Carry of Weapons (CCW) permits, and gun purchases began climbing, the violent-crime rate in the US has dropped by almost 50%; 7) Police have worse records of shooting innocent bystanders than CCW holders do; 8) Countries which have banned, or almost-completely banned, civilian gun ownership have subsequently seen their violent-crime rates climb, or at least stay the same -- and the same is true of American states and municipalities; 9) The Constitution guarantees the right "to keep and bear arms" to all citizens, and its excuse -- the "militia" -- is comprised of all citizens over the age of 17; 10) Barring groups of people from that Constitutional right without conviction or at least clear evidence of a crime is "prior restraint", which is illegal; 10) Government "no fly" lists are notoriously corrupt, and cannot be used to rob people of their rights without clear legal means of getting off the lists; 11) Given Mateen's past (examined by the FBI and written off, hired by a government-sponsored security firm, bought all his guns legally -- despite a history of bigoted and downright psychotic statements and behaviors, duly reported to the police), citizens cannot rely on the government alone for their protection from lunatics, bigots, terrorists or just plain crooks; 12) Intense firearms training for civilians has statistically reduced firearms accidents; it should be made mandatory to everyone. 13) "Mass shooting" statistics are exaggerated because the FBI defines "mass shooting" as any event in which four or more people are shot, not necessarily killed or even seriously wounded.
The antis appealed to emotions, ideals, and "what everybody knows": "Dancers and drunks with guns would have only increased the carnage in a dark, crowded space." "I don't want untrained idiots all out there carrying all the guns they can. I personally would rather live in a civilized society where every person doesn't have to have a concealed weapon on them at every moment." "Do you think every yahoo with a gun and a couple of drinks in them is going to turn into Will Smith in 'Men in Black'? Three hundred panicked people running and screaming, shots being fired, loud music, strobe lights flashing,people falling and dying, and you think your imaginary CCW holders are going to be able to hit this shooter and not add to the body count of innocents?" "Mass shootings are not a common event outside of a war zone anywhere outside the US." "Britain's violent crime rate has NOT been going up since the ban. Neither has Australia's. NO OTHER FIRST WORLD NATION has toddlers shooting themselves or someone else on a weekly basis. NO OTHER FIRST WORLD NATION has mass shootings (4+ more people shot in once incident) on a DAILY basis." " so many Americans regard mass shootings as a perfectly acceptable side-effect of their right to own machine-guns." "I heard the armed guard was also killed. But this nit-picking over details is distasteful, especially when used by NRA supporters as an excuse not to limit arms. Wake up America!" "Leslie, you are by far, the biggest jackass I've encountered in months. Let's just arm everyone, even schools and churches! Deleted and blocked. Go suck a gun." "More guns never make sense. Seriously, arm everyone? Even a lobotomized patient knows that's not only stupid but illogical and not ever going to happen." "It's not that anti gun law people lost credibility. IT's Freudian psychology pure and simple. They're all holding onto their dicks. Preach abstinence only and this is the shit you get."
The patterns that emerge are very different from the usual political assumptions. The pro-gun crowd want everyone -- including Gays and Latinos, in this case -- armed and trained, believe in common rationality, and trust the average citizen to behave reasonably. The anti-gun crowd assume that the average citizen is ignorant, hysterical in a crisis, automatically gets drunk whenever alcohol is available, is likely to start and escalate violence, can't be trusted with weapons, and basically needs a keeper; it's only a short step from there to assuming that the proper keeper for the masses is their own morally and mentally superior selves. It's ironic that the party calling itself Democratic holds such anti-democratic beliefs.
By the way, the victims of the shooting themselves appear to have made their own decisions as to how to deal with the tragedy. I've heard from friends that all over southern California there are signs popping up everywhere that show the familiar rainbow flag with the classic Don't-Tread-On-Me rattlesnake superimposed, and below that: "#Shootback".