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View Diary: Concealed-carry laws may have made the Aurora massacre worse (45 comments)

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  •  It's a tradeoff (0+ / 0-)

    Perhaps statistically, but I think of this in light of one of my favorite books of all time, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, in which Princeton physicist shows how many things that were intended to reduce risk or harm, and usually did, nevertheless created new risks or displaced the old risks somewhere else. For example, modern medicine has been able to prevent many deaths from acute diseases and causes ... at the price of making many of those things into chronic conditions that impose different costs on society.

    To apply this to, more specifically, law enforcement, you may remember if you are old enough how we started making drunken-driving laws tougher in the 1980s, and enforcing them more consistently. It did indeed get a lot of drunks off the road — but at the same time the amount of hit-and-run accidents went up, as drunk drivers began realizing they ought not to stick around for the police to show up. That imposes long-term costs that weren't there before ... the accident victim cannot sue an unknown John Doe for compensation and must depend on other resources to deal with their injury; similarly the drunken driver has not been deterred and may well do the same thing again. The laws have been stiffened so that a driver leaving the scene of a personal-injury accident where s/he was legally intoxicated is punished even more severely, but that still depends on catching the driver relatively quickly enough to establish that they were drunk. Yes, this probably happened before 1982, but there's an even greater incentive for this to happen afterwards.

    To apply this model directly to spree-shootings and concealed-carry laws, I think, we would gradually see a phenomenon similar to what we've seen with the power grids: in older systems, like those in less developed countries, blackouts are commonplace but contained to small areas and service is usually restored quickly; while in advanced countries like ours they are rare, but when they do happen they are catastrophic and can take hours to fix. So, with spree shootings, they might become less frequent but deadlier.

    It's not a pleasant choice to consider, but would you prefer, say, 2-3 of these events a year with a death toll of 5-15 or one every 2-3 years with a Breivik-level death toll? One might assume, too, that more shooters will, as Breivik did and Holmes apparently intended, precede their shootings with a diversionary bombing. (Shooting/bombing incidents are not a new thing in this country, either.). When I say that I don't want to be the NRA in that situation, I mean that the public might respond more favorably to legislation in the wake of such tragedies if the death tolls started routinely hitting multiple-dozen levels, even if less people died in such incidents over all.

    •  Solid thinking all around (0+ / 0-)

      but I'd rather address issues at their cause, rather than apply bandaids. Want lower levels of homicides? Reduce the factors that cause them (none of which have anything to do with weapons). Strengthen the family unit, reduce wealth concentration, enact social programs, provide economic opportunity, implement meaningful mental health care, steer cultural norm away from violence/greed/ego, provide political efficacy, encourage homogeneity, etc.

      So yeah, do something after a tragedy like this...work to make things better. Looking to guns, concealed carry, or anything similar won't do that. It will only make it worse.

      The unintended consequences of toughening gun laws (or abolishing concealed carry) is more direct victimization. Meanwhile it accomplishes NOTHING positive, since there are NO negatives from concealed carry.

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