Glenn Reynolds is rightly mocking the failure of the left wing narrative that shootings should result in new restrictions on guns. But there’s another narrative out there, one that should be calmly insisted on, that the Aurora shootings should be analyzed as a failure of Colorado’s commitment to its own state constitution whose Article 17 insists that the ordinary guy between 18 and 45 constitute a militia. All of us, the gun control side, the gun rights side, are not acting as if we take that seriously. And the gun rights side *should* be taking that seriously.
The next day after the 1983 Beirut truck bomb, US sentries in Beirut were no longer walking around with no round in the chamber and no magazines inserted as they had been when the truck zoomed through the sentry post on its way to mass murder. The rules of engagement for US forces in Beirut changed quickly.
The day after the Aurora Colorado killings, that movie chain was still barring CCL carriers from entering their premises with their legal firearms. Nobody seems to find it strange that we acted that way. Nobody seems to find it strange that we don’t have a legal framework that we can use to change the rules of engagement for the unorganized militia. We have to go through the legislature and make a new law every time. It is as if the narrative of the general population being a militia is something we only pay lip service to. This too is a failure in narrative, and a worrying one.
19 thoughts on “Aurora shooting: the other #narrativefail”
Another issue is the impossibility of committing psychotic folks who are risks for such paranoid outbursts. Clayton Cramer’s new book is extremely well done and is a history of the closing of state hospitals and the origin of the homeless problem.
This fellow has a classic history for schizophrenia.
I am wondering if the possibility of lawsuits – by CCW holders who didn’t have their weapons in that theater – and lost a loved one – will change their attitude.
My guess is that increasing numbers of people will carry regardless of rules. Kind of like how air passengers learned to fight hijackers. The formal rules may not change but some citizens will tacitly change their behavior if they think they face real danger. Otherwise, in many parts of the country, the possibility of being victimized by leftists through the legal system for breaking arbitrary “no weapons” rules is a significant deterrent to preparedness.
Jonathan – I was on this subject with a Facebook group – I was shocked – in a positive way – how easy it is to get carry permits in other states. Indiana, for example, requires the usual checking and then it is $125 for a lifetime permit.
As it is in CA if I feel like I should be carrying – I will. In the movie theater example I wouldn’t have thought the need but like 9/11 a lot of thresholds changed.
Gentlemen, this is about narrative, not actually about end line behavior. This is about asking the question, is our set of enabling laws regarding the 2nd amendment or Colorado article 17 (or whatever your state constitution institutes a like clause) working? Nobody that I can tell is going on the talk shows and having a discussion about it. Nobody is setting up model legislation to increase the effectiveness of the unorganized militia. Nobody is doing R&D for flash militias or other novel ways to improve their effectiveness. In other words, from a narrative perspective, we are limiting our play to our own half of the field.
This will not do.
No matter how demoralized they are, if we do not ride through them, we do not end this fight.
Is this a constitutional issue (unorganized militia), a practical issue (the police can’t be everywhere), a libertarian issue (right to self-defense), a medical issue (untreated mental illness), or some combination of these?
I’m sympathetic to the militia argument but it might be a hard sell. Why not try to change rules incrementally through the legislature? Depending on the state, all that might be required would be a change in the law to decriminalize the carrying of weapons in private venues, plus perhaps carefully drawn statutory limits on criminal and civil liability for people who make good-faith efforts to protect themselves and others against criminal attacks in pubic settings?
“As it is in CA if I feel like I should be carrying – I will. In the movie theater example I wouldn’t have thought the need but like 9/11 a lot of thresholds changed.”
Years ago, there was an early radio talk show host in LA named Michael Jackson (No, not that one). He was a reliable lefty and once had a show about carrying guns in the California legal climate. The focus was obviously planned to be a scolding of anyone foolish enough to break the law. The show turned out to be hilarious as almost all callers were women who carried guns at all times. The LA police chief at the time (another lefty and now a city councilman) was a guest and both of them were befuddled at the unexpected response to the topic. The most common reason given was “I refuse to be a victim.” I think this was shortly after the Rodney King riots.
I doubt any minds were changed but it was entertaining.
Jonathan – We’re running on different tracks (but perhaps the same direction). The preferred narrative in my view is that a mass murder event is a militia failure and should be examined through the prism of how to make the militia more effective. Perhaps the problem is weapons inaccessibility. Perhaps the problem is a lack of training. Perhaps the problem is too low a number of people getting CCL permits. Perhaps it’s public attitudes towards open carry. Perhaps, ad-hoc organization techniques could use some R&D. Declaring a failure that must be fixed satisfies the political class’ impulse to do something, creates a story that the chattering classes can discuss and pick over, and can offer reforms that actually improve things satisfying the general population that we’re trying to learn from our mistakes.
But look at the present narrative. The left-wing gun control narrative is going nowhere but what’s on the other side? What satisfies the political, journalistic, and general population to do something to improve things? There’s nothing wrong with a positive narrative oriented towards action if you point that impulse in the right direction. We really have changed in the relatively recent past that we might be able to truly improve things if we set our minds to it. But we aren’t setting our minds to it because the pro-rights side is still fixated on defensive strategies.
The militia in the US has the status of the National Guard and can be used in times of trouble to expand those numbers. This somewhat simplified but Google is your friend.
They are not a police force.
I would like us to do all of the things that you suggest, but at the same time not give up on incremental reforms, because we don’t know in advance which strategy will work best. There has already been substantial progress, over the past couple of generations, via legal incrementalism and (I think) a shift in public attitudes in response to failures of prohibition.
PenGun – Yes the militia is not a police force, and where there are police the military does not intervene. Where there is no police and an immediate crisis, the military does intervene. All of this is well established US and common law. Occasionally, the two forces work together in a time of crisis. When there is time, the governor calls out the guard and if there is need he may call up the unorganized militia to assist.
What happened in Aurora was that there was no time to call the Governor. There were no police at hand. The closest possible responders, the only ones who could have physically changed any of the events were the unorganized militia and they did so within the limits of the law. All that was left to them under the limits of present Colorado law was to become meat shields and protect others with their bodies, which a number of them did and several of the dead died doing it. I cannot do much from the suburbs of Chicago to honor that sacrifice but I can raise a call to ensure that the next time somebody is in that position, they have better options than meat shield.
Jonathan – Why do you view narrative promotion as opposed to incremental reform? Narrative promotion is a framework that makes positive reform of any type more likely. If it is working against incremental reform, we’d be doing it wrong.
I don’t see narrative promotion as opposed to incremental reform. We should attempt both.
So having everyone be armed and ready take the law into their own hands is your idea of a useful strategy?
PenGun – The narrative is to look at the law, specifically the Colorado Constitution’s Article 17 and analyze how it failed so we can have fewer people die. Why are you so pro-murder that you hatefully speak out against a failure investigation after a mass murder?
I clarified one point with a useful definition and asked a pretty obvious question and I’m full of hatred.
A bit sensitive perhaps?
Having everyone armed and ready to take the law into their own hands is the useful strategy.
That reality was one critical pillar of American self-government: locals made the law, enforced the law, and sat in judgement on the law. Outsourcing the work of governing, be it law making, law enforcement, and law deciding judging to specialists, whatever the motivation, is a time-tested way to erase the hard-won habits of self-government from a people.
The right to keep and bear arms is one pillar of that but is not sufficient by itself. Every eligible American should have the right to a military grade firearm and the training to use it effectively in a group with his neighbors that has been organized under the discipline established by their State. This was the ideal sought by the militia acts of 1792: to create what is known as a “well-regulated militia”, something that remains necessary to the security of a free state.
No, you conflate self-defense with “taking the law into your own hands” and thus are full of idiocy.
PenGun – Generally, people who take the law into their own hands are generally committing crimes. When falsely accused of promoting criminality, it’s not unusual to examine the motivations of the accuser and to ask why you are being unjustly attacked. You have a track record with me PenGun as you’ve been chasing me across several blogs for years. When you descend into hateful rhetoric, you’ve already used up all your free bites.
You attempted to re-establish the old-time gun controller narrative. That narrative is ultimately anti-rights hate speech and uncivilized. You might want to examine your habits.
Kirk Parker – PenGun, after sever years of observation, demonstrably does not fall into the idiot category.
I was giving him/her/it the benefit of the doubt. At least in my universe, foolishness is less reprehensible than duplicity.
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