(About 15 minutes before the screening started)
I spent my evening at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy watching Colin Goddard’s “documentary” Living for 32. I guess that if a movie is not a work of fiction, then it is a documentary. The showing, hosted by North Carolinians against Gun Violence, had approximately 50 people attending, but there was room for 75-100. Here are my thoughts,
Brady Campaign is learning. They didn’t lie on any matters of fact. There was a good explanation of what a hollow point was, and why police use them. There wasn’t much in the way of scare tactics, though I couldn’t understand why it got brought up. It was “Hollow points do a lot of damage to humans. I didn’t get shot with a hollow point, thank goodness.” They were also clear that the shooter (who I will not name so as to frustrate his desire for fame) was not a prohibited person. They offered the opinion that if he wasn’t legally prohibited, he should have been. They were very careful to say that the Virginia State Police said that because the shooter had not been committed against his will, he was not prohibited, despite the judge making the determination that the shooter was a danger to himself and others.
Colin is the last best hope that the gun grabbers have. He is tall and very photogenic. I can picture Whoopi Goldberg telling her compatriots on the View that Colin “rang her bell.” He didn’t come across as too big an attention whore. Naturally that is how we think of him, but most people will not believe that. Colin started VA Tech as an Army ROTC cadet in VT’s Corps of Cadets, but he dropped out of ROTC and changed his major after 2 years. Any military “experience” he has is limited to those 2 years as a cadet. His knowledge of firearms appears to be rather limited because his gun handling skills when he was looking at a Glock 19 were terrible. He held the pistol in the palms of both hands with his left hand cupped over the muzzle and his finger on the trigger. It made me twitch just seeing it. We can safely assume that he’s not a shooter and not part of the gun culture at all.
The NYPD officer that was showing the Glock 19 to Colin was a fairly good shot. It was impossible to see the distance that he was shooting at, but he was shooting rapidly and hitting the -0 circle on an IDPA target. I could have done the same at 3 and maybe 5 yards with my .45, but like I said, I couldn’t tell what range he was shooting at. The cop said that in his opinion, the Glock 19 was a military and police weapon, and there was no reason that a civilian should have one. It was the cop that explained that the police use hollow points in order to prevent over-penetration.
The film focused on two policy positions, background checks and concealed carry on campus. Why they focused so much on the “gun show loophole” so much when the VT shooter bought his two guns over the counter at gun stores I don’t know. Logic is not these people’s strong suit. Concealed Carry on Campus was dealt with by treating it as a fringe movement, and one that Colin thought was repulsive. It seemed that he was trying to minimize it and ignore it as much as possible because to debate it was to allow that they had a logical point. Marginalize and trivialize appeared to be the way they wanted to go.
The panel was completely anti-gun. There were 4 people, Dr. Kristen Goss, Dr. Phil Cook, Shannon Ritchie, and Effie Steele. Goss is the author of Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America. Both she and Phil Cook are professors, Goss is an Associate Professor, and Cook is a Senior Associate Dean, both at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Shannon Ritchie is a 1st year grad student at Sanford School, and Effie Steele’s daughter was murdered. When I asked after the Q&A why there was no countervailing viewpoints I was told that the purpose of the meeting was to get support for NCGV, not to have a debate.
Dr. Goss seemed very confused that her side appeared to be taking a beating politically. She seemed to be one of those who has made her mind up, and she’s just waiting for everyone else to catch up with her. She seemed to be utterly mystified as to why other people have made different policy choices. She said that she was forever getting calls by foreign correspondents asking her to explain American gun culture, but when she was asked by a Canadian audience member to explain it, she didn’t have anything helpful to say. I wanted to jump in and say that there were two basic reasons American liked guns. First, because we used them to kill the King’s soldiers to get our freedom, and second, because the USA never went through the WWI/Depression/WWII era fear of an impending communist revolution like the Europeans did. No one ever considers that fear and loathing of firearms in Europe is fairly new. It’s not that we are different, though we are, it’s that they changed and we didn’t.
Dr. Cook seemed like an honest man. He had ample opportunity to make statements that were unsupported by evidence, but didn’t. He was quite happy to tell us that the conclusion in John Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime” was not supported by his evidence. He was also happy enough to fail to mention that there was no evidence that any gun control schemes have ever brought down crime rates. But he did say that there was no evidence that Shall Issue laws made things worse. He could generally be counted on to do the sort of “on the one hand/on the other” sort of thing that made Harry Truman wish for a one handed economist. He was a poor choice as a panel member because what he was saying was not clearly in support of the mission. He was trying to be honest, but honesty will never work to push the gun control agenda. They don’t have the evidence to support the proposition that their positions will reduce crime.
Shannon Ritchie (5th one down) seemed a person who was personally invested in the issue of gun control. She’s on the board of directors at NCGV. I couldn’t figure out much about her except that she came across as one of those liberals for whom the solution to every problem is more government. Thus the fact that she is getting a Masters in Public Policy.
Effie Steele was there for her personal story. I spoke to her after the Q&A and she was very nice. Her daughter was murdered by that rare person who had no convictions before he murdered. She did tell me that the murderer had a lot of “visits downtown” for various reasons including domestic violence, but had never been convicted of anything. She was very clear that in her opinion, he had no business being allowed to have a gun. She agreed with me that somewhere, something in the legal system broke down. He should have been brought up on charges long before he got to murder, but wasn’t. The circumstances of the murder are sickening. The murderer was the father of her daughter’s best friend. The murderer had been molesting the victim for a long time and had gotten her pregnant. She was almost due, and he took her out into the woods and shot her 4 times. He may not have ever been convicted of anything previously, but he certainly was not a decent, honest, or law abiding human being. Effie was a big part of getting the Unborn Victims of Violence act passed through the House recently. I liked her very much.
Final thoughts. These guys are doomed. If this is all they can get, they’re going to get buried. With the kind of lead time they had, I could pull 250 people or more for a pro-gun event. Had I wanted to be a jerk and disrupt their event, I could have convinced 50 people to show up with me to this event. The audience was not left with a “let’s get engaged” feeling. They seemed to want the info, but they aren’t motivated like we are. There was no “call to action.” No list of “here’s what law we want passed,” or “Help us stop this law.” It was, “we’re on the defensive, and we can’t explain why.” They, and the people in the audience, couldn’t fathom why there wasn’t a groundswell of support for McCarthy’s “High” capacity magazine ban. They were at a loss as to explain it. They seemed like bystanders at a car wreck. Unable to assist, unable to get out of the way. I think that if we can get the Governor to sign the pro-rights bills we have up this year, they will be crushed emotionally.