This morning, I beat up the Strib’s editorial board for babbling platitudes about gun control that I’m pretty sure none of them really understands.
But there are times that sit back and thank all that is holy that the “brain trust” behind the editorial coverage at Minnesota’s pre-eminent media outlet is merely dotty, smug, and genially ignorant.
As opposed to the toxic, malevolent, dangerous ignorance of the New York Times.
Last week, columnist Timothy Egan wrote “Guns and the Two Americas“.
Now, I don’t know much about Timothy Egan; I’ve never written about him. But he appears to be equal parts Dwight Schrute, rote stenographer and closet authoritarian.
Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica: While Egan appears to be the kind of New Yorker that’d soil himself if he walked into the pistol range at Gander Mountain, he is, nonethless, an expert on tactics:
Just after the tragedy in a Louisiana theater a week ago — a shooting by a hate-filled man who was able to legally obtain a gun despite a history of mental illness — Rick Perry called gun-free zones a bad idea.
In his view, echoing that of the fanatics who own the Republican Party by intimidation, everyone should be armed, everywhere. [Aaaaand there’s the inevitable strawman – Ed.] Once a shooting starts, the bad guy with the gun will be killed by the good guy with the gun, somehow able to get a draw on the shooter in a darkened theater, or behind a pew in church.
This scenario almost never happens. The logic is nonsense, the odds of a perfectly timed counter-killer getting the drop on the evil killer unlikely. And even when such a situation does happen, as in the Tucson shooting of 2011, the armed citizen who jumps into the melee can pose a mortal threat to others. In Tucson, an innocent person came within seconds of getting shot by an armed bystander who wasn’t sure whom to shoot.
There’s nothing “unlikely” about it; readers of this blog can quote the debunkment chapter and verse; even the Feds note that mass shootings where someone – with our without a badge – intervenes with a gun, the death toll is around 2; without intervention, into two digits. Jabbering about “timing” is ignorant nit-picking by someone who’d seem to have watched too many ninja movies.
And the episode in Tucson in 2011, where a citizen responded to Jared Laughner’s shooting spree that killed six and wounded Representative Gabby Giffords, ready to return fire? Egan uses as evidence against shooters an example of a shooter who, under pressure that would make Timothy Egan soil himself with fright, did the exact right thing, checking fire at a time when all too many police would have blazed away?
All The News That’s Given To Me And Stamped “Fit To Print”: Egan is as ignorant and unquestioning about sociology as he is about tactics:
Nationwide, if you want to lessen your chances of getting shot, stay out of the South. The South is the most violent region in the United States, and also the place with the highest rate of gun ownership. More guns, easily obtained by the mentally ill, religious fanatics and anti-government extremists, mean more gun deaths.
But how do you feel about profiling, Timothy Egan?
Leave aside the patriarchal New Yorker references to phantom religious fanatics and militiamen; it’s entirely possible one of them actually will blow a fuse, someday.
Anything can happen.
Egan’s right, to an extent; the South is violent. Indeed, as readers of this blog know better than anyone who gets their news from the NYTimes, the rural deep south is, per capita, the most violent place in the US. And it was the same 100 years ago, when it voted solidy Democrat. And it was 200 years ago, before the Civil War. And it was 250 years ago, before most rural southerners had guns.
Because the violence in the rural South is not about hardware; it was an offshoot of Scots-Irish culture, which is and has always been more violent than the national average; southern Scots-Irish were dueling for keeps long after the rest of the country took their feuds to court; honor killings aren’t unknown. And the violence in the South has exactly the same relationship to guns as does the violence in Chicago and Detroit or rural Afghanistan for that matter; the people were violent long before guns and, if you shut down every gun store in Dixie, it wouldn’t change.
Egan is also no better at picking his sources than the dumbest Minnesota liberal blogger:
Better to go to a city or state with gun restrictions, at least if you’re playing the odds. Most of the states with tighter gun laws have fewer gun deaths.
In which he uncritically points to a “study” in the Atlantic that was BS for all the same reasons Eric Ostermeier’s work at the U of M was wrong.
But Timothy Egan is ignorant. So what?
One People, One Nation, One Times: Because the Times has given a big megaphone to a guy who believes that the answer to “gun violence” is a smothering police state:
You want protection in a country that allows a deranged man to get an assault weapon to hunt down innocent people in a public space? Go to the airport — that bubble of gun-free security. Or go to a major-league baseball game, or a stadium in the National Football League.
Our big league venues may be engaging only in security theater, as critics assert, but their owners don’t think so. They now mandate metal detectors to snag weapons, and most of them even ban off-duty cops from bringing guns to the games.
“Gun Free” zones are dangerous not because they only affect the law-abiding, but because…
Most gun-free zones, like the theater in Lafayette, La., are not gun-free at all. They have no metal detectors or screening — that would cost too much, the theater owners claim. Gun-free is a suggestion, and therefore a misnomer. Eventually, the more prosperous theaters in better communities will pay for metal detectors, further setting apart the two Americas in our age of mass shootings.
…they’re not intrusive enough?
In other words, the answer is “smothering, patriarchal government surveillance?” Allowing the state to poke and prod and scan us all will keep us safe?
Not just the state, but its private agents – like our own Mall of America?
The Mall of America — more than 500 stores in four miles of retail space, drawing 40 million annual visitors to a climate-controlled part of Minnesota — is trying to be a gun-free zone. “Guns are banned on these premises” is the mall’s official policy…The mall has a security force of more than a hundred people. Yeah — I hear the joke about the feckless mall cops. But the Mall of America trusts them more than well-armed shoppers to protect people, as they should.
No mass shootings have happened at the MOA. God willing, they never will. But hey, the signs at the doors must be working!
Of course, Crosswinds Mall in suburban Omaha had signs, and mall cops, when a nutcase killed seven back in 2009.
So, for that matter, did the Clackamas Mall in Portland Oregon, on December 11, 2012 – three days before the Newtown massacre. When a man with hundreds of rounds of ammunition came into the mall, opened fire and killed two…
…and looked down the barrel of Nick Meli’s Glock. Meli – like dozens of other armed citizens too mundane for Egan to note – did what Egan believes impossible, or superhuman (unless you have a mall cop badge); he pointed his gun at the killer. Who, like most spree killers when faced with armed resistance, deflated; he turned, walked into The Gap, and shot himself.
Will the Mall of America’s signs (which are legally not binding, although it’ll take an expensive test case to prove it) and cops and dogs do a better job of protecting the customers? Well, here’s hoping.
So Timothy Egan’s message is clear; the police state will set you free. Well, not “Free” in the “life liberty happiness” sense of the term, but free from being killed off by deranged madmen.
So wrong, light leaving right won’t reach us until we’re long dead.