Saturday, 22 December 2012

Faster than a speeding bullet

The US far right is prepared to do absolutely anything to save the nation's kids from gun-toting maniacs. Well, anything short of actually making it less convenient for maniacs to get hold of assault rifles, (because interfering with the ready availability of deadly weapons would obviously strike at the heart of the United States' well-regulated Militias, freedom's sole bastion* against the pillaging Canadian hordes, waiting to roll in from the north, treacherous Mexicans plots to avenge the Alamo, or Hollywood-villain-accented Brits returning to torch the White House again).

Fortunately Americans can be spared the horrors of gun control, so long as they can just train their kids to respond to the rampages of assault rifle-toting lunatics by ... er ... running about as if they were playing dodgeball. Because a mass of six and seven-year-olds running about in random directions would be almost invulnerable to modern firearms. Yeah, right.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with this cunning plan. First, running about at high speed, with random changes of direction is what children of this age do, anyway. As any parent who has had to negotiate a busy primary school playground at dropping-off time could confirm, this doesn't make children invulnerable. To be practically certain of mowing one or more of the little tykes down, a pedestrian would just have to walk briskly in a straight line, without looking where he or she was going. A killer's bullet, travelling in a straight line, would almost inevitably intercept one of the mass of rapidly moving small bodies in much the same way. The probability of hitting a child would be even greater if the killer managed to get inside and the milling mass of kids was contained within the school buildings.

Second, it might be worth taking a moment to think about what the police officers, whose poor marksmanship Kellmeyer cites, were doing when they failed to hit their targets. The majority of cops doing the shooting were presumably confronting potentially violent, probably armed, adults. You don't have to be an expert to realise that those cops' aim must have been compromised by considerations of self-preservation and public safety (it must be harder to get a clean shot when you're trying to avoid your target shooting back, and trying not shoot colleagues and innocent bystanders). If you're a nutcase, with the advantage of surprise and probably beyond rational ideas of self-preservation, intent on mowing down as many unarmed kids as possible, such handicaps don't apply.

I guess this sort of ill-thought-through bullshit is the sort of thing you'd expect from the sort of woolly-headed conservatives who babble on about the Second Amendment without specifying whether the "militia" they have in mind are the official - and presumably 'well-regulated'-  federal Army National Guard, Air National Guard and state military reserves, or just the one of those unofficial, unregulated Patriot movement / survivalist / millenarian / Branch Davidians-style "militias" dedicated to dressing up in camo and waving guns about - in other words precisely the sort of people any sane observer could identify as part of the problem, not the solution.

*Apart, that is, for the USA's famously puny regular armed forces.