Sam Harris shoots down both sides of the traditional gun control debate

January 7, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

Sam Harris has offered what seems to me to be one of the more even-handed analyses of the gun control debate. As part of his analysis, he points to a video offering training to a classroom of students who are about to be attacked by an assailant with a gun. Fascinating and it actually makes sense, though it would only work for older students, not elementary school kids.


Category: American Culture, Violence

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Edgar Montrose says:

    Lots of very interesting and important statistics (some of which I already brought to DI in previous posts). But I disagree with Harris’ conclusions — turning schools, shopping malls, and public spaces into armed encampments is not the answer, it is merely a reaction to a situation that is out of control. I’m not even sure how effective it would be, as I have read of numerous cases in which police — presumably well-trained with firearms — could not hit the side of a barn during a “shootout”.

    I still believe that the solutions are cultural and psychlogical. I do not know what makes Americans so much more violent than other cultures, but somebody must.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I totally agree. The problem is largely cultural.

    And while the video appears to be targeted at college student, keep in mind that the take-down is accomplished by one or two people. In an elementary school, there are usually twp adults in the classrooms for the younger kids: A teacher and a teaching assistant. They could effectively take the shooter down while the children huddle safely out of the danger zone.

    On the other hand, arming the teachers and providing them with firearms training is likely to work to the shooter’s advantage.

    Most civilian firearm training teaches the gun owner how to clean and maintain the weapon, how to safely store and transport the weapon, and safety for firing the weapon. Actual firing are usually limited to shooting at a paper target directly in front of the shooter as some distance.

    A teacher with only this type of training, would probably react by moving the kids to the corner, grabbing the pistol from the drawer or purse, and taking a position facing the door, wight in the line of fire. This is how she was taught to shoot.

  3. Edgar Montrose says:

    There is no obvious solution:

    Note, in particular, that Figure 4, lower right corner, shows that there is essentially no correlation between gun ownership rates and gun homicide. And Figure 9 shows almost a negative correlation between gun ownership rates and gun homicide on a state-by-state basis (though Figure 10 disputes this, it is a poorly constructed graph; nevertheless the correlation is evidently weak).

    Figure 13 contains an error — there is a big difference between “automatic” weapons (multiple rounds fired from one trigger pull; already illegal in the USA) and “semiautomatic” weapons (only one round fired from one trigger pull; legal in the USA). Gun opponents have taken to calling all semiautomatic rifles “assault weapons”, though that term was originally applied only to automatic rifles. Also, this graphic is not normalized by the relative number of each weapon type. There are more semiautomatic handguns than any other type, so it is not surprising that they are overrepresented in the graph.

Leave a Reply