Sam Harris has a blog posting that demands a thoughtful response. I thought I'd try one.
Although this piece is thoughtful and well written, I think Sam Harris sounds like a shill for the bone-headed NRA plan to put armed guards in every school. It’s a stupid idea, not just because it over-reacts to what Harris admits is a low-probability event, nor even just because it seems passively to accept the notion that there is nothing we can do about the U.S. being an inherently violent “gun-culture” society, but because of the message it sends that schools are dangerous places (they are not) and that schools should be run like armed camps (they should not).
I, too, am a gun owner and I, too, train with my weapons (I am also martial-arts trained). But I have no illusion, as apparently Mr. Harris does – in his NRA-inspired fantasy world, in which he forgets that the NRA exists for the sole purpose of increasing gun sales – that no matter how well trained one is as a private citizen, stopping an armed loony intent on murdering people is likewise a low-probability event: most of us are not military-trained and shooting people is not what we do for a living.
Mr. Harris forgets, perhaps because it doesn’t fit with his narrative, that there was an armed guard at Columbine, to no avail. He does mention the Chinese knife attack on the same day as Newtown, in which no child died, but still misses the point: the mortality is much lower in the absence of weapons whose sole purpose is killing people. And the author’s sneering attack on the NYT editorial, which was right on target (as it were), tells us all we need to know about his pro-gun lobby bias.
There is no training regime in the world that will both ensure that gun carriers or school security guards will be “well trained” and be cost-effective against the admittedly rare event of a school shooting – or any other public shooting. I imagine there were many “well trained” gun carriers in the Ft. Hood shooting, as there obviously were at the recent police station shooting.
I don’t know how to make the U.S. a less violent country. I don’t know the solution to the gun control issue – or even if it is as large a problem as the multitude of other problems this country faces (like the rape of The Commons by the Corporate Elite). But I say this again because it is so obviously true that even Sam Harris should know it: more guns = more dead people.
"It vexes me when they [clerics] would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures," wrote Galileo, "and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment."