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So That This Never Happens Again

The first reaction to the Aurora Massacre was the usual call for making sure that "this never happens again". Everyone from New York City Mayor Bloomberg to author Salman Rushdie to mystery writer Patricia Cornwell called for imposing gun control to insure "this never happens again".

And yet if we were to confiscate every privately owned firearm and outlaw the manufacture of new ones in the country, if we were to forcibly institutionalize anyone suspected of being mentally ill, and if we added naked scanners to movie theaters; we still could not insure that this will never happen again.

And yet Colorado has half the murder rate of Illinois, as adjusted for population. Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and New Hampshire, all full of guns, have far lower murder rates than gun control states like New York, California and Illinois. According to Bloomberg, "If we had fewer guns, we would have a lot fewer murders." But guns are not proportional to murders.

Utah has the second highest gun ownership rate in the country and the eighth lowest homicide rate. Wyoming, the state with the fourth highest gun ownership rate has the fourth lowest homicide rate. Meanwhile New York is 48th in gun ownership, but is the 18th highest in its murder rate.

We escape tragedy by searching for control and this is an obscene gift that we give to liberalism and its counterpart, the police state. Both promise us a better and safer world in exchange for our freedom. After every tragedy they promise us that they can keep it from happening again. They can't. No one can.

The illusion of control attempts to tie James Holmes to some larger issue, whether it's gun control or movie violence. It ignores the banality of individual evil, to make him into some larger monster that we can fight. But sometimes there is no meaning to evil except that it exists. No way to make sense of it or transform into a social crusade. Evil just is.

We can make war on organized or semi-organized enemies. We can bomb Hiroshima, round up the Mafia, launch drone strikes on Al-Qaeda leaders and break up cartels. We cannot however make war on the evil that lurks unexpectedly in human brains.

The edifice of government towers over public life. It is built for fighting systems, groups and "Isms'" and it can be used to ban guns, lock up the mentally ill or launch another one of its incessant public education campaigns. Its ability to stop an individual bent on causing harm to other individuals is highly limited at best.

That is where the illusion of control breaks down. The system can promise to stop gun violence, but it can't stop a man with a gun. All it can do is exploit the tragedy for more power. Only individuals can stop individuals. The only control we can possibly have comes from living in a society where the people do the right thing... and are empowered to do the right thing.

But that is not the society that the gun-controllers and police-staters want to create. The society they want is a place where everyone sits quietly, offers no resistance, contacts the authorities and waits for the accredited branches of the government to do something. A place where everyone knows that if they do something, they may be arrested or sued by the criminal afterward. A place where people are expected to be willing to die, but not fight back.

It takes a great deal of conditioning to break the reflex of leaving things up to the proper authorities. It takes something like seeing two towers fall in burning rubble while sitting on a plane that is clearly headed toward a similar mission. But shortly afterward the proper authorities will be back on the job, reminding everyone to fly planes, submit to some profiling-free groping, and pay no attention to the man with the beard and the itchy underwear chanting "Allah Akbar" to himself in the window seat.

Bloomberg replied to a suggestion that if more people in the theater had guns they might have been able to fight back, with, "To arm everybody and have the wild west all the time is one of the more nonsensical things you can say." And in Bloomberg's world it is nonsensical. By "Wild West", he means anarchy and when you're running a major city that has more employees than some countries have people, the last thing you want is anarchy.

Systems respond to a failure of control by intensifying control. Going the other way is "nonsensical" to them. To Bloomberg the Aurora Massacre was a failure of control, which every "rational" person has to respond to by agreeing that we need more control. Find the "loopholes" and close them. Tighten the noose and this will never happen again... until the next time it does, when it will be met with the same response.

More loopholes, more nooses and more zero tolerance. Make a law, name it after a murdered child and sit back confident that nothing like this can ever happen again because the big book of laws just had another forty pages added to it.

That is the government world, a place where every problem can be solved if you throw enough money, manpower and laws at it. And that world is as imaginary as the comic book world playing on the movie screen during the massacre. That is why gun control is so appealing. Unlike murders, guns can be banned.

Government is not god, though it often seems to aspire to the job. No amount of regulations can exercise complete control over the world around us. All they do is create a hedge maze within which both we and the criminals operate. And criminals will always be better at navigating that hedge maze.

Those who follow the law will always be proportionally more dis-empowered by regulations than those who do not. The flip side of a police state in the anarchy boiling underneath. The more laws there are, the more they are broken. The more control is centralized, the more corrupt the controllers become until the criminals are in power and those who are in power are criminals.

A police state is not a perfectly-controlled society where everyone follows the law or gets locked up. It's thugs with shotguns, tattoos and uniforms, dark sunglasses covering their eyes, collecting bribes from the criminals they are in league with. It's a president with forty mansions to his name and an entire apparatus of party loyalists who feed the bribes up to him. It's not a place that's free of crime; it's a place that's saturated with a crime, where everyone is a criminal from the leaders down to the little boy picking your pocket because otherwise the gang leader who runs the block will beat him.

We can turn America into that place in 10-15 years. All we need to do is spread the failed liberal policies that destroyed the country's greatest cities to the rest of the country. Then try to lock down that anarchy with gun control, SWAT teams and 5 million regulations. Give it time and we'll manage to achieve the current Democratic Party platform of being just like Mexico.

In America the police state has emerged as an attempt to manage the consequence of liberal social policies. Import enough immigrants from lawless countries, put them side-by-side in major cities and it will take a police state to manage the consequences. Destroy values, promote cultural anarchy while running regulatory totalitarianism, and you will need a police state. Destroy manufacturing and keep enough men of all races out of work, and the police state will be needed to manage the violence. Import enough followers of a religion in which terrorism is a mandate, and it will take a police state to maintain even temporary normalcy.

Officially liberals don't like the police state very much, and yet the police state is the only thing that prevents the countries afflicted by their policies from completely melting down. And when faced with a problem, whether it's a man filling in a swamp on his own property or individuals owning firearms, they resort to the power of the police state. Right now they are telling us that if we just had a police state where all the firearms were controlled by the police, this will never happen again.

Adulthood means knowing that this will happen again. That madmen will kill people and it is our responsibility to prevent that not by passing a few laws that invest more power in a police state, but by being aware and taking action when necessary. And knowing that this too may not be enough.

We have some impressive technologies, but those don't make us gods. We have information at our fingertips, but that is not the same thing as control. We do not control the world and we certainly do not control other people. And it is important that we remember that.

The actions of James Holmes are not a reflection on us or on that imaginary village that raises all of us. It is a reflection on him. To forget that by assigning responsibility to the gun or the movie is to abdicate individual responsibility and throw up our hands to the liberal gods of government and the police state to come and save us from ourselves. And they will eagerly answer the call.

The power of the individual to do good comes from a sense of individual responsibility. Take away that responsibility and the country begins to rot. Bury it deep enough and there are only sheep waiting for a wolf.


  1. The world will continue on as it always has. These things are thousands of years old and will never stop until the end.
    Everything man tries ends up with the same results in the end.
    The fixes are band aids that don't stick.

  2. That total gun control is nonsense can be given by the example of my country, The Netherlands, where such is imposed. The murder rate is low, yet a rare shooting spree did happen committed by a member of a gun club in possession of legally acquired arms. In Switzerland where virtually every ex military has his gun at home the murder rate is also low, yet there too a couple of years ago a mad man with a grudge went on a shooting spree in the city Zug and caused scores of victims. The man owned his guns legally. Both countries and both situations show that it does not matter wether control is absolute or saturation of guns owned is almost total. A mad man with a grudge can always find a manner for mass murder.

  3. It is a forensic fact of life that if a killer or robber suspects that his victims have the capacity to fight back, he is not likely to enter a home, business, shop or theater and start shooting. It is also a forensic fact – and there are dozens of stories that demonstrate it, which video footage – that a killer or robber who enters a venue with a gun gets the short end of a hail of bullets from victims who were as armed was well as he was. I recently watched a video of a pair of hooded thugs entering a Starbucks kind of café with a gun and baseball bat and proceeded to round up the patrons. Then some 83 year old patron with a pistol got behind them and began firing. The thugs tripped over each other trying to escape.

    But laws that ban guns are pointless, as Daniel suggests here. Law-abiding citizens will refrain from buying guns, or are prohibited from buying them, regardless of their spotless records. Law-breakers will not obey such laws and will always find ways to get guns. Breaking laws is what they do. Then they prey on the defenseless law-abiding citizens. And in a society in which the health and safety of law-abiding citizens are not a government's first priority, but to control of all actions, if they fight back, they are liable to be made criminals themselves, for having had the capacity to fight back to preserve their health and safety. And if they happen to injure a criminal in the act of defending their values, in that same society they're liable to be sued for the injuries they have inflicted on the criminal. Such citizens don’t even need to have possessed a gun. They could just as well kick the criminal in the groin or judo-chop his larynx or break his jaw, and they could be charged with using "excessive force" to subdue a criminal.

    It's the criminal who initiates force, and when he does, he is risking death or injury at the hands of his victim, who can retaliate only to the best of his ability. That's the only thing criminal law should consider, and not whether or not a "sporting chance" is granted to the criminal. A criminal forfeits all rights once he initiates force. He introduces the element of force into his victim's life, and he is just as likely to be a subject of force if his victim fights back as he is willing to subject his victim to. For horror stories of people jailed, fined, or sued for defending their lives or property, see Britain, a comprehensive police-state envied by gun-control advocates here in the U.S.

  4. To state the problem simply: the knee-jerk reaction to any horror like this is to call for stripping the law-abiding citizens from owning the most effective weapon that can stop criminals -- the gun.

    So the upshot is that madmen and criminals who forfeit their rights when they initiate force are being aided and abetted by the government who is stripping the law-abiding citizens of their most effective means of self-defense.

    If madmen knew that many sane, law-abiding people routinely carried concealed weapons to defend themselves, how many would rob banks, how many madmen would shot people in theaters, how many disgruntled ex-employees would go postal or shot people in McDonald's, etc.?

    As usual, the "received wisdom" of the government and the popular press has it all wrong.

  5. So when in the line of duty a police officer shoots and kills a violent criminal, the Liberal Left is the first to pounce on the officer. Throughout our entire involvement in Iraq, the Liberal Left calls our military murderers.

    Yet when ever something like this happens they do a complete 180 and call to have every private citizens gun a way or make it harder for them to obtain guns and ammo. So they fear the police and military but would at the same time prefer they be the only ones armed.

    I think it is a perfect picture of the irrational thought process of a Liberal. Then again their Guru tells them to think this way, rational or not and like good cult followers they obediently chant what they are told to.

  6. Anonymous23/7/12

    This whole "make guns illegal" issue is a total farce! I can just hear the boyz n the hood:

    "Yo bro we ain't usin' no piece cuz they'z illegal now."

    As if criminals will obey the law!

    Given that the political and ruling elite have nothing but contempt for their own people that preventing civilians from owning firearms is born out of nothing more than their own self interest.

    Proud Brit.

  7. By all accounts, not one of the movie goers was armed and able to fight back against the assault of a madman with several guns. So in a microcosm example, the theatre represented a Gun Control state. How did that work out for the 12 dead and the many more that were wounded?

  8. Bob5723/7/12

    The solution to mass shootings is more guns, not less. At my rod and gun club, everyone is polite and honest. You can leave your wallet on the bar, and it will be there, undisturbed when you return. Everyone has a gun, and even a $10,000 shotgun can be left unattended without worry of theft. The club is a perfect of example of the old saying, "an armed society is a polite society".

  9. Anonymous23/7/12

    I would imagine that the stats you use regarding murder, has a direct correlation to the # of blacks in the state.

  10. Your closing three sentences cite the humane of humanity; the inherent ethic that good people pursue. As the rabbis say "Pursue justice".
    As well, the 'liberals' more resent the police apparati until they possess the aeges. When that happens, there'll never be enough ink to write commands.
    Yet, with all the laws, codeces and moraes; we have the bizarre. I'll repeat a quote use by (early studies) Claire Sterling, a dean of terrorism studies, as she quoted Ovid Demaris;
    "The is nothing more savage than an educated man with a personal grievance that he considers a cosmic wrong."

    As I've mentioned "(early studies) Claire Sterling": from the eighties those of us who focussed upon terrorism were seen by officialdom as species deserving rubber rooms.

  11. Daniel what's the best way to personally contact you.

  12. Irwin Ruff23/7/12

    My memory is slipping, and a can't pull a name out of my memory. I am referring to an incident in Chechnya, when a group of terrorists took over an elementary school, and which ended with a large number of children. I'd appreciate if someone can refresh my memory.

    What I remember is that the local parents were almost all armed. The police were negotiating with the terrorists, when the locals started firing, touching off the massacre that ensued.

    If I'm correct, this is just the situation that I'm afraid of. In a darkened movie theater, someone starts shooting. Everyone else then pulls out his gun and starts shooting, with the result that we now have 30 dead instead of 14.

    Restricting guns may at least reduce the number of guns in play, although admittedly not the number of gun-happy people with guns.
    After all this, I still agree with your argument.

  13. you can contact me via email sultanknish@yahoo.com

  14. David, it doesn't seem as if much has changed. The growth of terror has only buried serious studies deeper.

  15. Anonymous23/7/12

    Have you ever wondered why there are so many breaking and entering in Britain during the day time.

  16. Irwin Ruff23/7/12

    The brain is a wonderful thing. Re. my previous post: The town was Beslan, and the date was 6 September 2004. Once I remembered Beslan, I could find the other details.

    It wasn't completely clear from the news reports exactly what set off the final killing, but it was strongly suggested that it was the armed parents who precipitated it. And if it was my child in the school, would I have been any different?

  17. Harfor23/7/12

    16 million people in America with some form of mental illness.

    One movie theater shooting in Colorado.

    Where were the other 44,000 mass murders that day? And the 44,000 mass murders that must occur each and every day of the year, if we assume that everyone with a mental illness is a mass murderer like Holmes?

    Given that we do not, currently, assume that the commission of a violent crime is per se evidence of mental illness (and vice versa); why haven't ALL criminals been found NOT Guilty by reason of insanity?

    Or will there be no need for any criminal justice system once we lock away all the crazies? Any judges? Criminal code?

    I mean, if the only penalty is life imprisonment in the mad-house; who needs a judge, jury, or different penalties for different crimes.

    Holmes had never been diagnosed with a mental illness. So, if we round up the mentally ill, how would Holmes have been "locked away" prior to committing his crimes?

    He would have been missed by the "rounders-up" of the mentally ill. He would have remained free to commit his evil act.

    Additionally, if the the shooter had been diagnosed, he may not have been able to legally buy his guns .... as the law stands now. Those who have been institutionalized at any point because they posed a danger to themselves or others, are ineligible to purchase any firearm.

    Lastly (for now), when it comes time to round up those military veterans with PTSD, you can do it, I want no part of it.

    As with the kids with ADHD; the obsessive compulsives; the depressed; people with tics and tourette's; bulemic women; alcoholics; gamble-holics; people with adjustment disorder from divorce, death of a loved one, or loss of a job; and so on ....

    Rounding up all people with a mentally illness and permanently institutionalizing them in a concentrated quarantine, ----- isn't that how Hitler started?

    When do we begin rounding up the mentally retarded? That kid with Down's Syndrome is starting to worry me.

  18. To refresh readers' minds about the Beslan incident: It was Putin's federal troops bungling the siege that precipitated the massacre. The Muslims – yes, those adherents of the religion of peace again – had the place booby-trapped. All the children and teachers were herded into the gym, and at the least sign of trouble from the authorities or anyone else, the bombs were fixed to go off, killing everyone, including the terrorists. The terrorists rounded up the male parents, forced them to barricade part of the school, then killed them with a female suicide bomber. The terrorists selected girls and teachers, took them in another part of the school, raped them, then killed them, tossing their bodies out the windows. They made the hostages drink their own urine when water ran short. They randomly shot anyone who looked at them the wrong way. By the time the Russian forces showed up, things had grown desperate. When they began to move in, that's when the terrorists began shooting back and executing hostages. I remember a picture of one woman hovering behind a Russian tank as it broke into one of the school walls.

    The armed parents were men who wanted to go hunting for the Chechnyan terrorists who planned the whole thing. Putin's government discouraged it. His forces later nailed the terrorist who had planned it.

  19. Very insightful and easy to comprehend article. Pity so few people in government can grasp this reality.

    Re Holmes. Given his age and the nature of his crime I'd compare him to the Unibomber. Some sort of psychosis. He had the means and knowoledge. Whether he had an awareness of right and wrong who can tell?

    Other thoughts on the tragedy--I thought of the IDF the minute I read that Holmes used tear gas. A while back I read that the IDF utilized training of some sort that involves hand to hand combat under such conditions. It's a tragedy that law enforecement in the US and the US military can't get up to speed.

  20. With the exception of the US military and SWAT teams most first responders in law enforcement have adequate training in dealing with heavily armed criminals such as this.

  21. Anonymous23/7/12

    So people died in Beslan because people tried to fight them. In other words if you sit there and do nothing no one would have died?
    What utter BS

  22. Aurora has one of the strictest gun control laws in the nation

  23. Carl Owen23/7/12

    Anonymous said:

    "I would imagine that the stats you use regarding murder, has a direct correlation to the # of blacks in the state."

    Racist comments like that solve nothing.

  24. Anonymous23/7/12

    The obvious point is that killing people is illegal. Laws don't stop crime or there would be no murder.

  25. Anonymous23/7/12

    Carl Owen said...
    Anonymous said:

    "I would imagine that the stats you use regarding murder, has a direct correlation to the # of blacks in the state."

    Racist comments like that solve nothing

    These are stats just like saying men on average are taller than women .

    Take a look at Detroit , I could go on.

  26. Anonymous23/7/12

    Here are some facts


    Here are the most dangerous cities


    Any common denominator? Carl

  27. Anonymous23/7/12

    "Systems respond to a failure of control by intensifying control."

    Most writers write a lifetime without ever writing anything that profound. For you, Knish, that's just another throwaway line

    -- spanky

  28. These are stats just like saying men on average are taller than women .

    Take a look at Detroit , I could go on.


    I have to agrete with you on that, Anony. I see these stats weekly.

  29. If law stopped crime everyone would be observing the 10 commandments perfectly.

  30. Anonymous24/7/12

    guns do not kill people. people with guns kill people.

  31. Anonymous24/7/12

    All gun control laws do is prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves. Criminals---by definition---disobey any law, regardless of how draconian.

  32. Irwin Ruff24/7/12

    To Anonymous, who wrote "So people died in Beslan because people tried to fight them. In other words if you sit there and do nothing no one would have died?"

    First, I admit that the Beslan story came through the Russian press, which is not reliable.

    Second, would you prefer that everyone with a gun start shooting randomly? It isn't completely clear what happened in Breslan, but transfer the gun question to Aurora, with dozens(?) of people firing away when they don't really know what the target is. Even with trained soldiers in the army, there are still cases of "friendly fire".

  33. Anonymous Poster24/7/12

    @ Irwin Ruff
    Yes I would prefer people shoot on their own and end it quickly.
    Friendly fire is a load of bull. Not that common (vet of 2 wars here)
    Don't be a moron. Dozens rarely have guns.
    The people who carry now, will continue to carry. The majority of people never will carry a weapon of any kind.
    "Dozens of people firing away" do you sit up nights thinking up these stupid scenarios?

  34. As the above commenter says those who carry now, would continue to carry.
    We already have concealed carry in many places and certainly not 'dozens' of people are carrying weapons.
    Most people feel uncomfortable carrying loaded weapons.
    The right to bear arms is already a right. Millions are not out buying guns.
    I agree, where do people get these stupid ideas?

  35. Anonymous25/7/12

    James Holmes plea, "The gun did it, not I".



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