Yesterday The Daily Beast published an article penned by Megan McArdle that contains one of the stupidest suggestions to come out of the Newtown massacre thus far. Aside from her Libertarian logic detailing how Congressional action on any sort of gun control legislation would only be symbolic and useless, she admits she really doesn't know what should be done. Oh wait, she does have one suggestion. If only these little children had been trained to gang rush the madman shooting at them, disaster might have been averted.
It would certainly be more comfortable for me to endorse doing something symbolic--bring back the "assault weapons ban"--in order to signal that I care. But I would rather do nothing than do something stupid because it makes us feel better. We shouldn't have laws on the books unless we think there's a good chance they'll work: they add regulatory complexity and sap law-enforcement resources from more needed tasks. This is not because I don't care about dead children; my heart, like yours, broke about a thousand times this weekend. But they will not breathe again because we pass a law. A law would make us feel better, because it would make us feel as if we'd "done something", as if we'd made it less likely that more children would die. But I think that would be false security. And false security is more dangerous than none.She readily admits that this might not do the trick in actual application, but she appears to be advocating we give it the old college try. Why waste everyone's time with having a sensible debate about gun control. Much better to add to the first grade curriculum lessons on the best way to run towards someone with a gun.
My guess is that we're going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity. 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.
Never mind the Department of Homeland Security's suggestions.
Objective 1 is to evacuate, and if you cannot evacuate, objective 2 is find a hiding place: "If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you." DHS recommends that people take action against an active shooter only as a last resort and when your life is in imminent danger.That is just crazy talk. Best to train our little ones to become our first responders, rushing towards the bullets instead of trying to find a place to escape them. That is a far more sensible approach than actually having the long-overdue national conversation about how we deal with automatic weapons, mental health issues and a recalcitrant and powerful NRA lobby that has held Congress at bay for decades.
Heaven help us all.