Absolutely no sane, decent person wants a loon with a weapon to slaughter children, but can we prevent that from ever happening? We can’t identify violent loons reliably. We can’t eliminate weapons — knives and fists each kill more Americans each year than rifles.
Across the world, loons with weapons occasionally slaughter people, sometimes including children — and those who pretend we can stop that with more rules are ignoring reality, as no one has succeeded. If prevention is not absolutely certain — and it just can’t be — what do we do when the unthinkable happens and an individual with a weapon enters a school or other public place and starts shooting? The choices seem to be let them keep killing for eight to 10 minutes until police arrive, or allow trained people with arms to be present and stop them by force.
Other measures, such as rapid lockdowns, which were admirably followed by the teachers in Newtown, Conn., weren’t enough. Arms themselves can be a deterrent. The Aurora, Colo., shooter reportedly chose a theater in a jurisdiction that did not allow guns in theaters over others where folks might fire back, and the Oregon mall shooter reportedly stopped killing and shot himself when faced with an armed civilian.
At the moment, this debate is emotion-driven. The key question is not what makes people feel good; it’s what is actually going to be effective in reducing slaughter by the deranged. Sometimes, only force stops a slaughter in progress.