Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Answering various comments I've seen in regards to the Tennessee church shooting:

A gun would not have made a difference, it is insane to think otherwise

It is probably correct that a gun would not have helped in this peculiar instance, but there are special factors involved--Primarily the previously-mentioned hero, Greg McKendry. From what I know of the events, without him the tragedy would have been much worse. Heroes with enough balls to stand up against a shotgun while unarmed are in extremely short supply. Minor heroes brave enough to return fire when armed are much more common. I think I could be in the second category under some circumstances, but I don't see myself up to Mr. McKendry's stature.

I have yet to hear of a legal civilian armed defender who has made a situation like this worse.

The Unitarian church has an anti-gun policy. It is possible that this influenced the shooter, (whose name will remain unmentioned and unremembered here if at all possible) or at least its choice of targets--These types of shootings take place disproportionately where guns are not allowed. (Which brings me to....)

You are blaming the victims

The blame lays 100% on the slime with the shotgun. There was nothing the U/U church did to deserve this--Neither their gun policies or their gay-rights policies are to blame. Additionally, this sort of thing is so rare that absent a specific threat, specific preparation is not warranted.

It is irresponsible to have guns around children

In the presence of children, guns must be either securely locked or under the secure, direct and continuous control of an adult. Most holsters qualify. Most purses do not. In a huge majority of children's gun accidents there are obvious contributing factors, including a criminal living in the house, a significant case file with Children's Protective Services and/or domestic violence. Injuries are rare, injuries in normal, law-abiding middle class homes are extraordinarily rare.

You are using a tragedy to further your agenda

"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it."--William Burroughs.

This tragedy is no exception. The shooter used a hunting shotgun, apparently still equipped with a magazine artificially limited for hunting. "We aren't after your hunting guns"--What restrictions would have prevented this, without severely infringing the rights of the law-abiding? There is good and evil associated with guns. The good outweighs the bad, even if it is not as visible.


  1. Hi, Sevesteen, not sure what to respond to here. I don't see anything we disagree about. We both agree that trying to connect this to the UU church's gun policies or saying that guns in the UU church would have made a difference are false assumptions.

    You wrote this:

    What restrictions would have prevented this, without severely infringing the rights of the law-abiding?

    I'm not sure anyone is calling for restrictions here, are they? Even the Brady Campaign is just saying it was too easy for this specific guy -- with a restraining order, DUI, gun-related threats, domestic violence, and suicide in his background -- to get a shotgun, and they note it was limited to 3 shots, as you note also.

    You called this guy a slime and a creature -- I think you need to be careful about making him out to be too "non-human," by the way -- but given what you know about him, do you think he's someone who should have been denied a shotgun, even if hunting-limited? Do you think there are some people whose behavior in the past shows them to not be responsible gun owners, unlike the vast majority of gun owners, and those people shouldn't be allowed guns even for hunting?

  2. In general, I am not in favor of eliminating someone's constitutional rights without due process and a damn good reason. In hindsight, there's a damn good reason to have kept the nut from having guns, but I don't know if it could be done with due process, or if there was enough information known to the right people ahead of time.

    I've deliberately avoided knowing too much about the nut. If it had been convicted of domestic violence rather than just accused, it would have a lifetime ban. DV should be taken seriously, and in some cases should be charged as a felony. Misdemeanors should not result in the lifetime loss of any constitutional right. That includes DUI and most threats.

    I don't know the standards required to issue a protective order, so it is hard for me to judge. My gut feeling is that if the standards to get an order are high enough to justify an automatic loss of gun rights, they are probably too high, and some orders that should be, won't be granted. A knowing violation of a protective order is another matter, and does justify loss of rights.

    I'm pretty sure that the Brady Campaign would be calling for restrictions if they thought it would be tactically effective. Instead they will ask for stricter background checks, and more disqualifiers. Same result, different path.

  3. With children involved, I might have beaten him to it.

    That's not bravery, just natural instinct.

    BTW his stepdaughter (not son) is transgendered. He was a great man, and a loss to the world.

    Had children not been involved... I might have been one of a crowd to rush the killer, but not the instinctive berserk of a mother protecting her young. I really don't know what I'd do in a situation requiring cold courage.

  4. Actually, Mr. McKendry was not a Step dad, he was a Foster dad. In an interview with the child, he referred to himself as a "son", not a daughter. Which is why I chose to do so also.