Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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48 Responses

  1. M.A. says:

    Well stated.

    We need far less gun nuts who think they are John Rambo and would instantly whip out a gun, kill the “bad guy”, and then get fame and fortune for it.

    Every gun nut I’ve known who talks about having a gun “for self defense” doesn’t think this way. They want license to whip out a weapon and shoot the first thing they see, imagining that they will get to be worshiped heroes who righteously used their gunpowder-powered Penis Replacement in the service of “good vs evil.”Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to M.A. says:

      Would you classify Joseph Zamudio a gun nut?

      The guy has a CCW permit. He carries a loaded gun around apparently on a daily basis. For a good number of people, this would put Zamudio in the “gun nut” category, nearly by definition.

      And yet when confronted with a mass shooting event, even when pushed to the “Fight” stage, he used least force. Highly commendable. Do you think he’s more representative of people who get CCW permits, or less representative then the people you’re calling “gun nuts”?

      I agree there are lots of gun nuts out there. I think, however, the classification system for defining “gun nuts” is really fuzzy, and we ought to be very careful about statements that include “gun nuts” and what “they think”.Report

      • M.A. in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Less representative. People like him are at my estimation less than 1% of the CCW population.

        Zamudio had self-control. Most of these Rambo idiots don’t.

        The biggest point that gets missed in all this? Zamudio was a latecomer to the scene. By the time he got there, several other people had already wrestled Loughner down. If Zamudio had not been the rare CCW carrier with a fully functioning brain, he could so very easily have shot one of the men trying to subdue Loughner.

        This isn’t a matter of “used least force.” This is the inherent problem with the Rambos thinking they will whip out a gun and save the day. They’re likely to shoot each other, or an unarmed innocent civilian, thinking that they have identified someone “evil” in the blink of an eye.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to M.A. says:

          I think you might need something more stringent than your estimation to have a credible bit to say, then.

          To be clear, I have no idea whatsoever what the general gun owning populations’ competency ratings are. Zero. None.

          I know quite a few people who own guns and a few of them would indeed apply for a CCW if it was reasonably possible to get one here in California (which it isn’t). The ones who would apply for a CCW are guys like Zamudio. I would trust them to babysit my kids while strapped. They’re the type of person that is going to shield my kid with their body in a shooting event before they would consider trying to shoot back.

          But I have a very self-selected group of people and I can’t say anything about what that means for the general population, except by inference.

          And by inference, there are a goodly number of states with much less stringent CCW regulations than California and I don’t see a correspondingly large uptick in the number of Rambo types gunning it out with perps on the street.

          To which I have to conclude that Rambo types are actually probably a lot less common than I thought they were, way back ‘when. And they’re probably (but not certainly) less common than you think they are.Report

          • zic in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            Qualifying for special forces training is a serious, difficult commitment.

            Those are the Rambos.

            And they are scarce on the ground. Even in the US military.Report

            • M.A. in reply to zic says:

              How many Concealed Carry permit holders THINK that they are John Rambo?

              Therein lies the problem. It’s nearly all of them.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to M.A. says:

                Again, M.A., this does not jibe with my personal experience. Not that my personal experience is representative.

                But it maybe ought to give you some degree of pause with the certainty you’re displaying here. You’re making pretty broad generalizations for a group of people with whom you haven’t demonstrated much familiarity.Report

              • I’m wondering what e suspects the self-image of the Gun Safety Advocate would be.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

                Church LadyReport

              • greginak in reply to M.A. says:

                You are really off on this MA. That certainly isn’t my experience. Yes some gun owners are a bit too certain they will have precise aim in the middle of some unexpected fire fight at the mall. We could all benefit from loading up on humility especially people talking about using deadly force on another human.

                Also lots of people are braggarts but if you talk to them a bit the braggadocio goes away.Report

              • Patrick Bridges in reply to M.A. says:

                You’re making assumptions about CCW holders a little to readily, I think, M.A.

                When I lived in Arizona more than a decade ago, I took a CCW class with the friend just to get more knowledge and experience handling firearms than the casual shooting I had done as a kid. The people taking the class ranged from people like me, to people very knowledgeable with guns, to people inexperienced with guns considering carrying in their car or purse for personal protection.

                The whole experience was fun and I enjoyed it, and I wasn’t a bad shot, either. The class was very good, covering both gun safety and legal aspects of ownership very well. The exam portion was a joke, really, but the content of the class was very good.

                When I was done, I went ahead and got the state CCW permit the class qualified me for. Despite that, I’ve never owned a firearm, and have exactly zero desire to have one in the house. I don’t want a gun anywhere near my kids, even though I plan on educating them well about guns and gun safety when they get older. If I ever took up target shooting with a pistol (I favored single-stack semi-automatic handguns) or some form of shotgun shooting, I’d keep the gun locked up at a range somewhere.Report

        • Fnord in reply to M.A. says:

          Do you have any links to statistics on “wrong target” shootings by bystanders or victims trying to defend themselves?Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Fnord says:

            I don’t.

            I’ve looked for them, but I haven’t found them.

            Part of the problem is encoding: if you’re a security guard, and you hit a civilian when shooting a perp, the perp is typically charged with the murder. So from the standpoint of UCS, that’s a firearm related murder.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to M.A. says:

          MA, you probably didn’t read this article I take it. Can’t really blame you, as usual the “hero” doesn’t often get fame and fortune especially when the national media has its own agenda. Certainly if I were in Clackamas with a gun I’d have been more than hesitant to take the shot, but since I’ve been trained to seek cover (not concealment) first and /then/ engage as Nick Meli did I believe the outcome could have been similar. Wasn’t anyone else curious why the mall shooter only took out two people before he shot himself? ” [T]he shooter was already dead when police arrived on the scene.”Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

            Based upon what I know of the psychology of these events, Ward, I really doubt that Meli being armed led directly to the shooter’s suicide.

            His report is also likely contaminated by his own experience in the event. There’s also nothing in the reports I’ve read that directly says that the shooter even saw Meli, let alone knew he was armed. That’s inferred.

            I think the whole chain of logic is dubious.

            Also: if you go search for “mass shooting” on CNN, you won’t see a lot of non-Aurora shootings, and there are two that I know of in the last month, more depending upon how you classify “mass shooting”. That kind of pokes a hole in the “national media has an agenda” idea.

            The media conglomerates report what their viewing demographic wants to see. They do this because that keeps the eyeballs in front of the ads.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              Patrick, I’ll just agree to disagree with you on this one. The shooter came loaded for bear, had hundreds of rounds of ammo but decided to quit after shooting 3 random victims. Yup, that pop psychology degree sure comes in handy don’t it?

              Admittedly the mainstream media likes to follow the “bigger” events and nothing spells bigger like higher body counts. However you can just Google for Nick Meli and see how little attention he got from the MSM. As for /your/ contention that he was lying, that’s simple. By now the law enforcement authorities have all the video from the mall (and I’m sure there’s plenty). With that it is academic to determine whether the shooter saw Meli, but his actions indicate he did by dint of the fact that he (the shooter) went for cover himself before he decided to attempt self-decapitation by firearm. The Landes and Lott study proved fairly conclusively that A) you can’t stop rampage killings and B) if you want to minimize deaths by gun, increase (not decrease) the number of concealed carry holders.Report

              • Pat Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                Ward, I’m not calling anybody a liar, I’m just generally dubious that any one person’s account of a very high stress scenario is likely to be accurate.

                Also, the idea that I must take cover to avoid being shot while I commit suicide strains my credulity meter.

                As for the pop psych dig, you didn’t appear to have a problem with my Spree killing post after Aurora, so maybe save the digs when you disagree with me if you’re going to not when you agree.

                As for the Landis study, nobody in social science would ever claim that a single study proves anythingReport

              • wardsmith in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Again, this is entirely academic, the video will prove or disprove the tale. Unfortunately the police have a new “weapon” in the war of ideas, wherein they claim that something is under “active investigation” in perpetuity. Therefore they are not obligated to release information they may or may not have under FOIA regulations. We may therefore never find out. The sheriff was quick to pat himself and his deputies on the back for saving the day, even though the killer was long dead by the time they actually did anything. Hence they don’t want to be embarrassed, hence “active investigation”.

                The pop psychology “dig” is well founded in that neither thee nor me are psychologists. I don’t recall your spree killing post on Aurora I made some comments someplace but haven’t spent as much time here as before. I do recall posting something about mental health written by a mental health professional and something about the Aurora killer’s psychiatrist, unfortunately his legal team has that all sewn up right now, not that it matters because if he had suicided the police could still hide behind “active investigation” indefinitely.

                The fact that the shooter “hid” then decided to off himself is exactly as logically stated. He wanted to shoot people, saw someone pointing a gun at him, didn’t know if it were a cop or not (I suspect Meli was holding the gun properly and not for instance gangland style). He /tried/ to find his own cover, realized a gun was still pointed at him by someone behind safer cover and decided to end the game right then and there. The nice thing about support pillars is they are round, when someone attempts to avoid your line of sight, you just move along the round object, still fully protected.

                From Lott’s paper: Referring to the July 1984 massacre at a San Ysidro, California,
                McDonald’s restaurant, Israeli criminologist Abraham Tennenbaum
                wrote that:
                what occurred at a [crowded venue in] Jerusalem some
                weeks before the California McDonald’s massacre: three
                terrorists who attempted to machine-gun the throng
                managed to kill only one victim before being shot down
                by handgun carrying Israelis. Presented to the press the
                next day, the surviving terrorist complained that his
                group had not realized that Israeli civilians were armed.
                The terrorists had planned to machine-gun a succession
                of crowd spots, thinking that they would be able to escape
                before the police or army could arrive to deal with them.9

                The Trolley Square shooter was gunned down by police (including an off duty officer flouting the no-gun rule at Trolley who undoubtedly saved countless lives by engaging the gunman). But you’ll undoubtedly chalk this all up to anecdata since there aren’t thousands of statistical data points to choose from.

                Lott’s original paper caused a shit storm and to quote from their latest peer reviewed rebuttal: The Lott and Mustard
                results have been tested many times. There have been a total of 29 peer reviewed studies by
                economists and criminologists, 18 supporting the hypothesis that shall-issue laws reduce crime,
                10 not finding any significant effect on crime, including the NRC report1, and ADZ’s paper,
                using a different model and different data, finding that right-to-carry laws increase one type of
                violent crime, aggravated assault.

                So do 30 studies prove anything or in social science must the reviews be ad infinitum?Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                I’ll read the paper and let you know what I think.

                Note, though… that’s not 30 papers saying one thing. If you get 29 papers and 18 support one result and 10 find no significant result, you’re probably not looking at a direct causal mechanism.

                The thing you’re studying is certainly very likely to be a major contributor, though, at least in some sets of circumstances.

                Before I go dig into the meat of the thing (and 29 other papers is a lot), I’ll hazard a guess, though. I’ll guess that there’s a preponderance of positive correlation in specific areas of study. The 10 more ambiguous results are probably comparing a larger data set and the 19 confirmatory ones are probably comparing a smaller data set. “Shall-issue” is a bad controlling variable, because California qualifies as a “shall-issue” state but they pretty much never issue CCW permits, and our population numbers would thereby skew results based upon a controlling variable of “shall-issue”. Which would, on first guess, maybe make Lott’s results look better, not worse.

                Which tells me that it’s likely that CCW permits and issue status are less important than a the actual number of CCW permits issued and the socioeconomic status of permit grantees, but I’d have to read a lot to know for sure.

                Shorter: thanks again for the link. You probably have something interesting here. It’s probably going to support your case to a degree, but it’s probably also not going to prove what you asserted originally.

                The real answer is most likely: “Do CCW permits reduce crime? In some circumstances, quite a bit, in others not much at all.”

                Which is a useful finding, mind, and supporting evidence for pro-gun folks, sure. But it’s not quite the same thing as you’re characterizing it as, here.Report

    • Just Me in reply to M.A. says:

      The “gun nuts” I know would run, hide and then if the shooter came after them and their family they would shoot. We know different gun nuts though I am sure.Report

  2. Will H. says:

    Two things I disagree with here.
    One is the idea that first responders know what they’re doing. In a situation like that, they don’t. That’s special training that goes to special units. First responders can make the situation much more deadly.

    Secondly, cover should always be the first move, even if it’s hug the dirt. If I take off running, I’m a target. If I cover, I have more time to assess the situation, and I can move when safe.

    My 2¢.Report

    • zic in reply to Will H. says:


      More importantly: in small PDs, particularly small rural PDs, the officer on duty is often a ‘relief officer,’ and has almost no training. At all. It would be like sending me to a weekend seminar on how to shoot a gun and drive a cop car and use the radio. What they know is to call in for backup, and that backup may be two hours or more away.

      Even many ‘police academy’ trained officers are light on the kind of training this requires.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will H. says:

      Well, in Houston (the target audience) and most other major metropolis settings, the first responders would be SWAT.

      Dropping for cover is only a good idea if it doesn’t cost you too much mobility. Early on, if you’re in a place where you need cover, you’re probably also already in the kill zone.Report

      • Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Da Fuk? We had five police departments show up at the WPIC shooting, but I don’t think SWAT was a part of any of that…
        Maybe Pittsburgh is different?

        You hide first, because it works best with the startle response. Plus, you often haven’t oriented to know which way to run from.Report

  3. Stillwater says:

    Run, hide, and fight. In that order. Regardless of whether you are armed or not, you should run first, hide second, and fight only if cornered and have no other option.

    I agree. I just can’t imagine anyone ever think the opposite. For example, that the best thing we can do as a society is to “[drill] into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun”. I mean, that’d be fucking crazy.Report

    • Just Me in reply to Stillwater says:

      Ok, don’t think me crazy. But I can understand why some suggest gang rushing an attacker. It comes down to if a bunch of people are cornered in a room and the shooter is between them and the exit it really probably makes more sense to do the gang rush. Yes I know that self preservation says not to, but in the long run in a close confined situation you are (I think) more likely to have less casualties if you can take out the shooter before allowing him to pick you off one at a time. That would be the only time I would probably gang rush a gunman myself (I think).Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    Is there any average time frame for these things? I’d imagine one would spend at least a bit of time frozen in terror. As for ‘evacuating,’ yes, I’d imagine that would happen too, although perhaps not in the way they mean.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Rufus F. says:

      The average is probably a very bad number to use.

      Some spree killers are focused on a small domain. They stake out their attack space and go on their rampage and when they run out of targets of opportunity, they often get confused about what to do next. Roughly half the time (for spree killers with guns) they suicide. Sometimes they just put down their guns and come out.

      Some are roamers. They’ll move from location to location.Report

      • M.A. in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Likewise the “choice of target location” BS that’s been coming from the gun-nut crowd recently. They talk about how “gun free zones” attract the spree killers?

        If you have a mentally unhinged person, they’re hunting down something or someone they think hurt them. For the Newtown situation, it was this school. Something happened here and he blamed the school as an entity, just as in Columbine the two boys blamed the school as an entity. Same for Virginia Tech, he was lashing out at the “entity” he blamed for his troubles.

        Other spree killers start off with a person of focus who happens to work at a given location, but then move on to taking out coworkers or other bystanders.

        A number of the places that have been called out for being “gun free zones” have in fact had armed security present. Someone looking to go out with a news flash, taking as many people with him? They go where the people are, guns or no guns. They want to go where headlines will develop.

        I guarantee you this. These people are thinking “how many people can I kill”, they are thinking “where do I know the target of my anger will be at X AM/PM.” What they are NOT thinking, ever, is “is there someone with a gun that might shoot me?” In some cases, they’re actually counting on it.Report

        • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to M.A. says:

          Maybe not all

          Of course, this being Fox News, I’m readily open to evidence refuting that position.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

            That’s… yeah, uh, not compelling.

            There are more than seven movie theaters within a 10 minute drive from my house, and I usually go to only two of them (the Laemmle and the Arclight). The Arclight isn’t the closest to my house, but I see most of the blockbusters that come out there, because I have a sneaky parking spot in that mall.

            There are so many potential factors involved that unless the guy admits in his “tell-all” book with The National Enquirer (or some computer forensics guy finds Google searches on his home PC for “gun-free theaters” or something like that) that I’d say this is staggeringly likely to be a coincidence, nothing more.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to M.A. says:

          I’m close to absolutely certain that no spree killer pays any attention to a sign that says, “Gun Free Zone”.

          They do have a choice of target location, absolutely.

          If you have a mentally unhinged person, they’re hunting down something or someone they think hurt them.

          This isn’t true in all cases, although it’s very common. Particularly when this is the motivation, gun-free zones are completely cosmetic details.

          However, some spree killers are triggered by immediate circumstances, and their target zone is where they’re triggered. Some spree killers are attempting to lash out at that something that hurt them, but their perception of that is so generalized that it’s hard to really call that a primary factor in target zone selection: when you’re pissed at society in general, attacking society becomes a motivator for action, but not a motivator for location choice.Report

    • Kim in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Yes. Startle and then Orient responses are instinctive. Someone’s done the research.Report