(Photo by “Ilmo Joe” via Flickr.com)
Since the tragic mass murder of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, CT last week, conservatives have been ringing that old, familiar bell: “MORE GUNS!” See, in right-wing world, the best way to curtail violence is… more violence. Everyone should be packing. If those teachers (and even the kids, some of the crazier types say) had only been as heavily armed as the shooter, everyone but him would still be alive!
Of course that scenario would have to take several fantastical leaps before it landed in the vicinity of feasibility, but the general advice from conservatives is, “When you’re faced with a sudden invasion of armed intruders, everything will come out OK as long as you’re armed, too.” The fact that both Columbine High School and Virginia Tech were protected by armed guards doesn’t seem to count at all.
So let’s take a look at a few instances in history—some famous, others notsomuch—where being armed really didn’t help at all.
Fort Hood Shooting: Nov. 5, 2009
The remains of Sgt. Amy S. Krueger are carried to the waiting aircraft by the Fort Hood honor detail. Krueger was killed during the Nov. 5 massacre at Fort Hood. .(U.S. Army Photo by John Byerly)
In July, 2009 Maj. Nidal Hasan entered a Guns Galore store in Texas and, according to witnesses, asked for “the most technologically advanced weapon on the market and the one with the highest magazine capacity.” After settling on a semi-automatic weapon, Hasan purchased some SS192 hollow-point cartridges—considered too dangerous to be sold to civilians. He returned several times for more ammunition.
A few months later, he strode onto the Fort Hood military base—a place crawling with guns and folks who are trained to use them—with his new toy and started shooting. In 10 minutes, 13 people, including 12 soldiers, were killed and 29 others injured. A female police officer attempted to subdue Nasal with her pistol, but it was no match for his firepower.
Bonnie And Clyde: May 23, 1934
Famed outlaws/bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow sure did love them some guns, a particular favorite being the Browning Automatic Rifle. The two spent a short but memorable time terrorizing the country in a well-publicized crime spree, during which they happily shot anyone who got in their way.
Justice finally caught up with them in 1934 when some fed-up Texas lawmen—who sported a few Brownings of their own—ambushed the pair’s car in Louisiana, riddling it—and them—with bullets. Were the two young outlaws unarmed and defenseless? Nope. Found in the vehicle: “Automatic rifles, sawed-off semi-automatic shotguns, assorted handguns, and several thousand rounds of ammunition.”
Tyler Courthouse Shooting: Feb. 24, 2005
David Hernandez Arroyo Sr. waited at a Tyler, Texas courthouse, where his ex-wife and son were to attend a child-support hearing. Accompanying Arroyo, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was his little friend: a MAK-90 semi-automatic rifle (modeled after the AK-47). As his quarry appeared, he opened fire. Local resident Mark Wilson heard the commotion as Arroyo engaged in a shootout with law enforcement officers. The holder of a concealed-carry permit, Wilson grabbed his Colt .45 pistol, and ran outside to get involved. One shot found the gunman’s back, but the local hero’s pistol paled in comparison to the MAK-90, and he lost his life.
But wait, there’s more! A trained sniper from the Tyler police force joined the fray with a Colt AR-15 rifle, and 116 rounds of exchanged gunfire later, a car chase ensued. Police officers, sheriff’s deputies and a crazed gunman drove recklessly through the streets, still exchanging gunfire, until five sniper shots finally took Arroyo down. Lots of men, lots of guns, lots of bullets… yet it took all that to capture and kill the bad guy.
Photo by J. Stephen Conn via Flickr.com
The Capture/Killing Of Osama bin Laden: May 2, 2011
The killing of Public Enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden, by Navy SEALs in his Pakistan compound is probably the signature national security achievement of the Obama administration—accomplishing in a little over two years what the previous administration was unable to come close to in their eight years in power.
As SEAL Team Six stormed the compound, they were met immediately by a courier brandishing an AK-47. Several AK-47s and pistols were later recovered from the compound. As for Osama himself, although he was technically unarmed, as even a gun owner usually is when ambushed by unexpected intruders, in the room where he was killed—within easy reach—were an AKSU rifle and a Makarov pistol. Which, as it turned out, did him no good whatsoever.
Tacoma Mall Shooting: November 20, 2005
When Dominick Maldonado entered a mall in Tacoma, Washington armed with a semi-automatic MAK-90 rifle and started randomly shooting at people, he found more than he bargained for—in the person of Brendan McKown, a citizen who happened to be packing a 9mm CZ pistol. “Put the gun down!” he demanded. That demand was promptly met with a burst of gunfire, which eventually left McKown paralyzed.
Going on his merry way after what he surely considered a minor inconvenience, Maldonado then took four hostages, including a child, whom he quickly released. Four hours and a SWAT team later, the gunman surrendered—convinced, apparently, not by anyone shooting at him, but by conversations he had with two of his hostages, both with a military background.
Photo by Andy E. Nystrom via Flickr.com
The Empire State Building Shootings: August 24, 2012
One bright and sunny morning this past August, New Yorkers were shocked to awaken to the news that there had been a shooting at the landmark Empire State Building. While many worriedly thought back to another bright, sunny morning 11 years earlier, details began to emerge of a workplace rivalry that spilled into the streets of New York City, leaving two dead and nine wounded.
However, all was not as it seemed. All nine of the injured were bystanders who had been hit by police gunfire. Two NYPD officers fired 16 wild rounds in pursuit of a lone gunman who had only shot the one person he intended to shoot. Another case of everyone having guns doing far more harm than good.
Photo by Dave Sizer via Flickr.com