Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Changed?

 I've kept quiet about the Newtown massacre while I tried to figure out what happened. Meanwhile the usual suspects have been howling about guns. There have been hundreds of people spouting off about killing the NRA President and members. Aside from this not being particularly nonviolent I would posit that threatening armed people might just be a mistake.

 I have found a couple of strange things about this most recent massacre, one is that the Congress and the President have let a couple of school safety programs lapse, one funding police in schools.

 Another odd thing about Newtown is that it took twenty minutes for police to show up from the first calls of shooting inside that school.

 Twenty minutes. That is a pretty good response time for police to show up for a theft report, suspect gone. It might be a pretty fair response time for a deputy sheriff in rural northwest Texas. It is not a good response time for a city police responding to a shooting inside a grade school. Someone should be asking what those police were doing. The average citizen won't like the answer.The day of the first officer on the scene running to the sound of the gunfire is long over. Today we "establish a perimeter." We set up a chain of command. We establish a line of communication. We gather intelligence. We then wait for the heavily armored SWAT types to go in and only then does the shooter kill himself.

 I admit, I've never been to Newtown and have no idea of the terrain. I will say that it is damned well impossible to believe that the nearest patrol car was twenty minutes away.

 One of the reasons these killing sprees happen is that police no longer have commanders, they have administrators. Their key philosophy is to make sure that no blame redounds to themselves.And an ijured or killed police officer is a real drain on the municipal budget whereas a dead child does not financially affect the city.

 An important question: How many police have been killed or injured during one of these killing sprees since Columbine? Hint: More police have been killed or injured protecting government motorcades. Police administrators have forgot the addage of shedding blood to take the King's shilling. We spend a lot of money on officer safety, as we should. In reponse, the officers go into dangerous situations. Still, it seems the more we spend on officer safety the longer it takes said officers to actually do something useful when there is shooting going on. This is not the fault of the officers but is the fault of the administrators.

 Please note that I am not calling for a bloodbath in police work. I am saying that many lives would be saved by having those first officers go in and cause the shooter to kill himself, as almost always happens. I am further saying that the person who goes into policing to be safe had better apply, instead, to city road repair. The life of an officer is not worth more than that of a child. Again, no officers have been killed in all these school massacres since and including Columbine.

 It is, of course, more than poor administration of our police. I grew up in an era where we had a high school rifle team. Kids in Jr. ROTC got to fire fully automatic Browning Automatic Rifles. Many high school principals had large closets where the kids could pack their hunting rifles and shotguns during the seasons.

 A kid with money could write off to one of the advertisors in The American Rifleman and get a lot of really fine rifles, revolvers and pistols. There were 1903 Springfield rifles for around fortty bucks. German Mausers were even cheaper and at the bottom of the barrel were the Japanese 6.5 and 7.7 mm and those Italian 6.5 and 7.7s. There were M1 rifles and M 1 Carbines, both .30 caliber  but the M 1 fired the full sized .30-06 and the Carbine a hot pistol-type thing with a lighter bullet. As I recall, that was the round Charles Whitman used, mostly, in the Texas Tower massacre. There were thousand of the old British .303 let go, tons of .45 auto M1911 pitols, Webley revolvers in both .455 Brit and .38 S&W were cheap, along with bazillions of Colt and S&W .38s both .38 Special and .38 S&W.

 Yet we boys settled our differences with fists. And that is a big difference. Today a kid fistfight is pretty much beyond the pale. And THAT is a big difference. Somehow we have allowed education to be feminized. Recesses are almost gone, with none of the physical games boys of my day played. Today a child with normal boyish energy is medicated. He's no longer a boy but is hyperactive or has A.D.D. So, today they sit around, numb and playing games on their mobile phones. Or texting.

 I live where cell phone coverage is very spotty. The largest man made lake inside Texas is a half mile away by the trail kids (or adults) can walk. It teems with catfish and bass. It is a small game hunter's paradise. Our back roads are great for bicycles, we have lots of horses. Yet when I drive home after school hours I see kids standing around, in the spots where they can get coverage, with cell phones in both hands, not even looking up as cars go by. What do these boys do with their energy? And our "betters" blame the fast food industry.

 My own grandsons aren't allowed to roam. Kids are on such short leashes today and it's a crying shame.

 Most, if not all, of the people doing these spree shootings were on some sort of psychotropic drug. Something is really wrong and it ain't the guns. We've always had guns. We've had high capacity semioauto guns since the 1903 Winchester .32 and 35 self loading cartridges. Then in 1907 we got the more capable .351 and in 1910 the .401 Winchester SL. These stubby little carbines had short magazines from the factory although when I was a boy I knew an old bluesuit who had a .401 with a long mag he'd either cobbled together or bought. Of course far more LEOs had lever action carbines in .44 WCF and .38WCF. Few carried the longer .30WCF (.30-30) or .32 Special. Many carried 92 Winchesters converted to .38 Special and .357 Mag.

 My own Marlin .357, made in the mid 1970s spent some ten years in a county cruiser, far more useful in the country than a patrol shotgun. But, that's another story. It's just we've always had guns. And if we ban certain guns criminals and madmen will just use another form of gun. Suppose there was some kind of magic spell to remove all semi auto handguns? And it would take a magic spell, there are far too many for a law to get rid of them. After all, tell me again how people get heroin andcocaine wheen there are draconian laws about them.

 Still, without those dread semiautos, what could the Newtown killer do? Well, he could have shot his way in with one or two revolvers and then used gasoline bombs. How many one quart molotov cocktails can fit in a backpack?

 It ain't the guns, folks. We're doing things seriously wrong today and we're looking at the wrong things for solutions.


pamibe said...

Nope, it's not the guns, it's the culture. Makes me sad that boys are not allowed to be boys anymore.

And I had no idea it took 20 minutes for the LEOs to respond at Newtown. Wow. That was the slow response time of a deputy if he was clear across Montgomery county, Texas, which is comprised of over 1,000 square miles.

Good grief.

pamibe said...

Re-joined the NRA after today's press conference.